Faith: The Confusion of Pastors and
Theologians; The Blindness of Philosophers; Into the Ghetto for “Peoples
It is really quite incredible that evangelical scholars1
differ as much as they do. There are the presuppositionalists and the
evidentialists, and never the twain shall meet. There are the
predestinarians and the free-willists, and neither will freely decide
for the other. There are the dispensationalists and the Calvinists, and
neither can dispense with the other. There are the moderates and the
conservatives and neither will moderate in their attacks on the other.
These impasses really should cause serious pause, especially as
most of these scholars believe in the law of non-contradiction, so there
is only one truth among all these issues. And, they believe in the same
Bible, their only source of ultimate truth.
But here I would like to propose that faith has a much greater role
in these issues than it is usually given by virtually all of these
positions. I posit that the definition of faith is simply—
action. Some ministries have adopted the phrase, “Faith in Action,”
as their motto. But, I propose that faith is simply—action.
Now, that simple statement does require some explanation. All actions
are based upon some specific knowledge. For example, when a person
marries, he or she has faith that their spouse will behave in a certain
way for the rest of his or her life. The knowledge of that person upon
which this decisions is made comes after many conversations and
activities together. A knowledge base is built upon which to make this
However, faith is even more simple. Virtually every action that a
person takes is based upon knowledge. I set my alarm clock for tomorrow
AM. There are a host of assumptions in that simple act: that
tomorrow will actually come, that I will not die in my sleep or
otherwise be incapacitated to be able to get up, that the electricity
will not go off (or the battery die), that a tornado or some other dire
event will not destroy my house in the night, that the purpose (job,
hobby, family, activity) for which I plan upon getting up will still be
available. I assume that all the people involved in my plans will have
nothing happen to them, also. Beyond these assumptions named, there is
virtually an unlimited number of events that could affect that simple
act of setting an alarm clock and expecting to get up at a certain time.
I hope that you can begin to see that a supposed “simple” act (that
is faith) is not so simple. There are hundreds of actions like that
every day. I plan a shower, not expecting a fall and injury or to be
robbed, and expecting the water to be hot, the water to be on, the
shower door to work, the drain to work, the soap to be there, etc., etc.
Also, I plan to act in other ways: drive my car, make a telephone call,
fix a sandwich, shop at the grocery store, etc., etc.
I am positing that all these actions, based upon knowledge, are acts
of faith. Trying to limit faith to Christianity or another religion
has made faith a fuzzy, nebulous concept that is divorced from its
continuous and active presence in our everyday life.
There is a crucial element to faith: certainty or uncertainty.
Review all the everyday examples above. There is a great deal of
certainty to every one of them. The sun will rise; the
electricity will work; I will not die in my sleep, etc., etc. But, there
is also an element of uncertainty. Sometimes, the electricity
will go off; I will die in my sleep; I will not hear the alarm; etc.,
Certainty or uncertainty is the defining component of faith.
Without uncertainty, faith would not be necessary. Absolute certainty
requires no faith. But, having limited knowledge rather than
omniscience, faith is always necessary. There is always that which is
So, faith is action based upon the certainty of the outcome expected.
That action may be reasonably taken or foolishly taken. It is
reasonable for me to set my alarm clock with all the uncertainties
involved. It would be foolish for me not to set my alarm clock thinking
that my internal clock is sufficient for me to wake on time.
What I want to do here is show the ubiquity of faith in its universal
application. I want to remove the mystery of faith because it is so
often made complex and too ethereal to be of any value in practice.
What about saving faith? Other Kinds of Biblical
Saving faith then is simply action based upon the certain knowledge
of what God has done in Jesus Christ (e.g., John 3:16). It has some
element of uncertainty because its greatest reward is future, something
unknown, as yet.
But, again, Christians get confused here. Faith, as it is used in the
Bible, has many other applications besides its relevance for forgiveness
in Christ and the hope of heaven. Between conversion and heaven, faith
has great application to “work out your salvation (sanctification) with
fear and trembling.” There is the miraculous faith of being healed (Mark
5:34). There is the faith to calm storms (Matthew 6:30). There is great
faith (Matthew 15:28). And, so on. All the “heroes of faith of Hebrews
11 knew how to take action based upon faith.
I am appalled at the misunderstanding of faith that I hear from
Christians. I am more appalled at the complex, confusing definitions of
faith that pastors and theologians devise.
Faith is simply action, based upon knowledge, with an expected
outcome of varying certainty. Biblical faith is acting upon the
knowledge of Scripture. Faith is simply obeying God in all the ways
that he has commanded us. Failure to act is unbelief. I may say,
“I believe that I ought to study my Bible more,” but if I do not
follow-through, I never really believed it in the first place. I may
say, “I believe that I ought to tithe,” but if I do not give one-tenth
to the church and/or Christian ministries, I do not really believe it.
The expected outcome from Biblical faith is the blessing of God.
Limiting Faith Places Christians in the Ghetto
Faith and reason have been a major point of discussion among
philosophers for centuries. In those discussions faith is mostly limited
to religious faith. But, every person has faith because no one has
certainty! Every philosopher who has ever posited any position has
been countered by many other philosophers. So, where is the certainty?
Any position without certainty is a faith position. Therefore, all
philosophical positions and religious beliefs are positions of faith.
Perhaps, this mis-understanding of faith is the greatest
philosophical error ever. I would posit that it is the greatest
error that modern Christians have allowed to be imposed upon them by a
secular world: that there are peoples of faith, distinct from the
unstated “peoples of no faith.”
Reader, think what is being said here! The “peoples of faith” are
motivated by their religious beliefs. But, then, what motivates “peoples
of non-faith” (again, unstated). But implication the latter group are
people of reason and certainty. By implication, peoples of “no faith”
have a stronger position because they do not have to rely on faith. By
further reason, “peoples of faith” are contrasted with “peoples of
science.” By further reason, “peoples of faith” are not in the
mainstream. “Peoples of faith” have a weak philosophical and social
position so they are really irrelevant.
Do you see where the phrase “peoples of faith” have made Christians
second-class citizens and virtually irrelevant to social and political
And you pastors, theologians, and Christian philosophers have allowed
this impasse to come to be. In your high-brow scholasticism
and failure to study faith in the Bible (for its definition can
be found there), you have pushed Christians into the ghetto of modern
thought and life. When pushed into the ghetto of ideas, it is never long
before the ghetto becomes socially, politically, and actually real.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Without faith, it
is impossible to do anything. No one can act without faith whether he
makes Christian or atheistic claims. We are all acting by faith.
The only hope for Christianity and for civilized society may rest on
an understanding and application of a true definition of faith.
It has finally happened... all
"-isms" have been labeled "faith." See
1. “Evangelical” is used as it is defined by the Evangelical
Theological Society. See Glossary
on this site.