Understanding Different Uses of the Word ‘Faith’

I recently updated the tagline of my other blog to include the word ‘faith’. As I thought about that word, I felt it would be good subject matter for a blog post to clarify what I, and others, are often trying to convey when we use the word.

I feel as though atheists and agnostics (that is, people who don’t believe in God and people who are unsure whether or not God exists) can understand the word to mean a kind of ‘blind faith’. They believe the word means putting trust in something (God) on the off-chance that he might exist, even though, they feel, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest he does. We have faith, they would say, because we cannot be sure. Faith is a kind of ‘hoping’ or ‘trusting’.

The second use of the word ‘faith’ I’d like to describe — and this version applies to me — is that the term is a kind of all-encompassing word people use to refer to their spiritual lives. We are ‘people of faith’. This meaning of the word, for me personally, is not intended to communicate ‘blind faith’ or uncertainty.

In my 2019 book release, entitled God’s Grand Game: Divine Sovereignty and the Cosmic Playground, I wrote a chapter entitled, ‘How Do I Know God Exists?’. I intentionally didn’t title the chapter, ‘Why I think God exists’ or something similar, because that would have conveyed uncertainty. But I am certain that God exists. 100%.

Atheists and agnostics often say it’s impossible to know for certain whether or not God exists, but I honestly think this is untrue. God reveals himself to spiritual seekers in very tangible ways. I hope that the arguments that I make in God’s Grand Game are sufficient to persuade people that God does exist, or that my arguments at least provide a basis for helping people understand why having certainty in relation to the subject of God’s existence is by no means impossible.

When I personally use the word ‘faith’, it is to profess a knowledge of God’s existence, and that the fact of God’s existence is the centre of my life. I am a person of faith, meaning I know God exists. It’s pretty much as simple as that, for me, although my faith itself is less simple, because there are philosophical and theological issues that I wrestle with.

I might have faith that God will fulfil a certain promise, or that he will unfold all events ultimately for good rather than for evil. This sense of the word ‘faith’ is a kind of trust. But concerning the existence of God, I do not have merely trust, I have knowledge, and that is the substance of a different kind of faith entirely.

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