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 distinct meaning.
In this website, I have chosen to follow that second route. I separate the two terms and use them individually. This allows me to express what I understand to be the basic characteristics of, and the interaction between, ‘knowledge’, ‘evidence’ and ‘acceptance’ in our journey of faith. (For the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
For a quick overview of God’s ‘belief building’ options, that are actually available to us, please see the article, “Can I really believe in God?” The article, “Sound Faith” describes the end product of our journey of faith and belief. And finally, the article “What does faith offer us?” explains the rewards of sound faith.
But, let’s look at those definitions, relevant to this website!
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 just accept them without any proof. I explain what we actually come to know is ‘real’ under Heading 3.
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 church, ‘of our choice‘, that can assist with our growth of faith. Or we may attend an ‘Alpha Course‘ to give us clear insight into what faith is about. These are available in 100 countries around the Globe.
As beginner Christians, we firstly trust (through ‘faith’) that God does exist and accept 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 in life.
Importantly, we also accept through faith how God ideally expects us to live, as explained in the Bible. 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, through using our faith, we can actually come to recognise that he REALLY is there. Our faith has in effect been ‘verified’ through its use in our lives. And we come to find that God is actually as the Bible portrays him.
2.2 Acceptance of truths we just cannot test
Of course there are some examples of faith where we need to 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 Bible-based faith are proven to have a genuine basis.
The Bible actually carries the ‘essence of God’s presence’ in its words, which really 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 personal experiences, when they fit an effective ‘evaluation framework’. That relates to what we come, as a minimum, to believe beyond reasonable doubt, i.e. through evidence and the use of our trusted 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 genes and the environments in which our personalities have been shaped. Some of us will require more valid and relevant evidence to believe than others, as a result. And the strength 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. Again, have a look at the article “Framework for evidence” for guidance on how to get it all together.