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Faith[1] extends beyond belief to include confidence about something unseen, such as the achievement of God's will. Faith goes beyond materialism to include a realization of the underlying reality, for the goal of achieving good.

Jesus's definition of faith was this: "Faith is the foundation of our hopes, the evidence of the unseen."[2]

Faith embodies more than belief, requiring more than mere thought or emotion. Faith elevates one's being, while belief is limited to a mental state or emotion. Faith implies a causal role by the believer in an outcome[3] or in overcoming a personal fear. Faith also implies advancement or accomplishment rather than wrongdoing, while belief implies neither.


Faith in God vs. secular psychology for solving addictions and other personal problems

The Christian group Teen Challenge reported:

Teen Challenge claims of a 70% cure rate for the drug addicts graduating from their program attracted the attention of the U.S. Federal Government in 1973. Most secular drug rehabilitation programs only experienced a cure rate of 1-15% of their graduates. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, funded the first year of this study to evaluate the long term results of the Teen Challenge program.[4]

Teen Challenge has a number of studies that indicate the high effectiveness of their drug treatment program compared to other programs.[5] Studies indicate that consumers of secular counseling psychology for alcoholism receive hardly any benefit at all.[6][7] The Apostle Paul in a letter to the church of Corinth indicated that Christians were able to overcome being drunkards through the power of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:9-11).

Faith plays a central role in overcoming addiction. Virtually everyone is plagued by one or more addictions, and faith enables overcoming those weaknesses. Similar to this is faith's key role in overcoming recidivism.

Faith is also helpful in overcoming fear, such as fear of public speaking, appearing on television, or standing up to a bully or unpleasant situations. Jesus reprimanded the Apostles for their faithless fear: "The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm."[8]

Lack of faith can lead to fear, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence and sometimes death. A lack of faith can be very harmful, leading to self-destructive behavior. Faith can be described as the power to ignore the devil and all his antics.


Financial Times (FT)/Harris Poll among adults in 5 countries in 2006

Faith as a virtue

St Paul identified faith, hope and love (or charity) as the three greatest virtues that are central to Christianity, and this idea is repeated and elaborated upon throughout Christian tradition. Faith is put first because it provides the foundation upon which the other two are built: a faithful heart and mind cause one to have hope, and hope causes one to have love for God and one's fellow man.

In Dante's Divine Comedy, St Peter is most identified with faith. This is appropriate, since he was the 'rock' on which the Church was built, just as a Christian life must be rooted in faith. Peter's great faith is shown in Matthew 14:28-31, when he is briefly able to walk on water until doubt enters his mind.

Christian philosopher Robert Merrihew Adams wrote a book, The Virtue of Faith, to defend the idea of faith as virtuous. Consider the case of a loved one accused of some wrongdoing, but who protests their innocence - our relationship with them creates a special ethical obligation to believe what they say, which does not apply to the protestations of innocence of strangers; at the same time, that obligation is not absolute, but can be overturned by the evidence. Adams uses this example to argue that some beliefs we are ethically obliged to hold, and argues that the existence of God could be such a belief for the believer.


  • Faith is a higher faculty than reason.
    • Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), Prœm, line 84
  • There is one inevitable criterion of judgment touching religious faith in doctrinal matters. Can you reduce it to practice? If not, have none of it.
    • Hosea Ballou, Manuscript, Sermons, as quoted in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)
  • A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics, where the very possibility of integral human development is radically called into question. In this most delicate and critical area, the fundamental question asserts itself forcefully: is man the product of his own labors or does he depend on God? Scientific discoveries in this field and the possibilities of technological intervention seem so advanced as to force a choice between two types of reasoning: reason open to transcendence or reason closed within immanence. We are presented with a clear either/ or. Yet the rationality of a self-centered use of technology proves to be irrational because it implies a decisive rejection of meaning and value. It is no coincidence that closing the door to transcendence brings one up short against a difficulty: how could being emerge from nothing, how could intelligence be born from chance? Faced with these dramatic questions, reason and faith can come to each other's assistance. Only together will they save man. Entranced by an exclusive reliance on technology, reason without faith is doomed to flounder in an illusion of its own omnipotence. Faith without reason risks being cut off from everyday life.
  • An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.
    • Book of Common Prayer, Catechism, as quoted in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)
  • You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it.
    • Samuel Butler, novelist, "Rebelliousness", Notebooks (1912)
  • I believe that faith is a precursor of all our ideas. Without faith, there never could have evolved hypothesis, theory, science or mathematics. I believe that faith is an extension of the mind. It is the key that negates the impossible. To deny faith is to refute oneself and the spirit that generates all our creative forces. My faith is in the unknown, in all that we do not understand by reason; I believe that what is beyond our comprehension is a simple fact in other dimensions, and that in the realm of the unknown there is an infinite power for good.
    • Charlie Chaplin, My Autobiography, p. 291
  • Who hath no faith to man, to God hath none.
    • George Chapman, Revenge of Bussy d'Ambois (1613)

Unique Role Within Christianity

Christianity is unique among religions in that its followers are defined by faith rather than by adherence to a prescribed code. St Paul makes this distinction clear in Galatians 3:24-25:

The law was a kind of tutor in charge of us until Christ should come, when we should be justified through faith; and now that faith has come, the tutor's charge is at an end.

That is to say, whereas Judaism required (and still requires) its followers to obey the law, Christianity begins with faith, and any moral or ethical decisions must follow from that. In this regard, Islam has much more in common with Judaism than it does with Christianity: the word 'Islam' itself means 'submission to God'.

Other Definitions and Religions

Outside of Christianity, faith is misused as a synonym for "belief". The Merriam-Webster dictionary, for example, includes this definition of faith: "a system of religious beliefs."[9]

Alternatively, faith often refers to a "firm belief in something for which there is no proof" or evidence.

In the Koran, the concept of submission to Allah is mentioned 11 times, while the concept of faith in Allah is mentioned only once.

Etymologically, the word 'faith' is closely linked to the concept of "fidelity," which emphasizes commitment to something or someone, specifically Christ, in the case of Christianity. Thus, faith is often understood to mean 'loyalty' to a particular view of divinity. Yet, faith can also be envisioned more broadly as a trust in providence, as it entails an active role for the believer himself for advancing good.

The literary critic Harold Bloom distinguishes Christianity from the other two dominant monotheistic religions in his book Agon by contrasting them with Gnosticism:

"Gnosticism polemically is decidedly not a faith, whether in the Christian sense, pisits, a believing that something was, is, and will be so; or in the Hebraic sense, emunah, a trusting in the Covenant. If religion is a binding, then Gnosticism is an unbinding, but not for the sake of things or persons merely as they are. Gnostic freedom is a freedom for knowledge, knowledge of what in the self, not in the psyche or soul, is Godlike, and knowledge of God beyond the cosmos. But also it is a freedom to be known, to be known by God, by what is alien to everything created, by what is alien to and beyond the stars and the cosmic system and our earth."

Faith is emphasized in Christianity but is unrecognized by the worldview of philosophical skepticism.

See also

Mindset of a Modern Survivalist-Permaculturalist:

See Ben Franklin's moral virtues, precepts, perfections, commandments, survival psychology


  1. 1200–50; Middle English feith < Anglo-French fed, Old French feid, feit < Latin fidem, accusative of fidēs trust, akin to fīdere to trust.
  2. Epistle to the Hebrews (Translated) Verse 11:1, His Epistle to the Hebrews
  3. For example, the Biblical Peter's walking on water based on his faith.
  8. Mt 8:25-26 (NIV)

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