How to use “faith” and “belief” in life.
Explaining how ‘theory’ and ‘genuine evidence’
work together during our faith journey.
Each is used to build the other.
The words “faith” and “belief” are sometimes used interchangeably by religious writers. But on other occasions they are used in a way that gives each word a distinctive meaning.
In this website, I have chosen to follow that latter route. I separate the two terms and use them individually. This enables me to express what I understand to be the distinct characteristics of, and the interaction between, ‘knowledge’ and ‘evidence’ in our journey of faith. (For the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
For a quick overview of belief building options, that are actually available to us, please see the article, “How to believe in God”. The article, “Sound Faith” describes the end product of our use of faith and belief. And finally, the article “Real personal freedom” explains the rewards of sound faith.
In regard to this particular article’s heading, the word “faith” is used to describe, ‘a theoretical understanding, based on Bible scriptures, that we accept as truth’. And sometimes, especially at the beginning of our faith journey, we may accept them without any proof.
2.1 Applying faith to life
When reading the Bible, its life affecting message may become obvious, encouraging us to apply it to our lives. We should join a fellowship of faith, after deliberation, that can assist with our growth of faith. Maybe, we might even become a member of a Charismatic fellowship of faith. Etc. Etc. Or we may attend an Alpha Course. These are available in 100 countries around the Globe.
As beginner Christians, we firstly trust (through ‘faith’) that God does exist and that we can engage with him. We do this by opening our lives to his potential presence there. For simple and basic examples, we pray to him for assistance and also look for his guidance when trying to make serious decisions.
Importantly, we also accept through faith the way that we are expected to actually live by God. This includes the manner in which we deal with our fellow human beings in day-to-day life; caring as much about them as we do about ourselves. And we are expected to work towards loving our God as much as he loves us. All this stuff relates to living a ‘faithful’ life.
Essentially though, we come to recognise that he really is there. Our faith has been verified through its application in our lives, and we find that God is largely as the Bible portrays him.
2.2 Acceptance of truths we just cannot test
In fact some examples exist where we do accept Bible statements, like the offer of eternal life after physical death, that can never be proven during this life of ours. In essence, we come to accept that concept of eternal life, through faith, because we clearly recognise that other aspects of Biblical faith are proven to have a genuine basis.
The Bible actually carries the essence of God’s presence in its words, which can become apparent to its readers. That too encourages us to place further credibility on its underlying messages. Now you will just have to trust me on that one. If I came to that position, with my auditing background, then I am positive any ‘thinker’ can! (Again, for the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
As a contrast, the word “belief” is used on this website to describe, ‘what we accept as real as a result of our life experiences, when they fit our evaluation framework’. That relates to what we come to believe beyond reasonable doubt through evidence and the use of our justifiable reasoning processes.
The development of belief in God will not occur in the same timely manner for everyone of course. We are all different. Each of us are affected by our own individual genetic bases and the environments in which our personalities have been forged. Some of us will require more valid and relevant evidence to believe than others, as a result. And the extremity of belief building events in life will obviously vary from person to person.
To a large extent faith and belief are built one on the other. As explained above, faith is often based on a viewpoint that sits well with what we have already accepted through the basis of evidence. And on the other hand, experience-based evidence can also arise through putting our previously unproven faith to the test in life.
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