What Is Faith?

This little word “faith” troubles believers and unbelievers alike. Some say it’s trusting in fairy tales; others, submitting to authority.

Our brother from another mother, Augustine, has a lovely definition tucked deep inside his City of God:

“But the peace which is peculiar to ourselves we enjoy now with God by faith, and shall hereafter enjoy eternally with Him by sight. But the peace which we enjoy in this life … is rather the solace of our misery than the positive enjoyment of felicity.”

Why?

“Our very righteousness … is yet in this life of such a kind that it consists rather in the remission of sins than in the perfecting of virtues.”

We are constantly fighting a losing battle.

So what is faith?

It’s like this: You are the Vikings and you’re in the Super Bowl. Now imagine, as the game starts, you KNOW you are going to win. You relax. Peace, right?

That’s an analogy to the kind of peace Augustine claims is known in this life by those who have faith.

The journey itself may be arduous, of course. But if you KNOW it’s going to end well, it’s easier. So faith is not the same as believing a fact. It’s more like time travel.

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One response to “What Is Faith?

  1. I think that it was Kurt Vonnegut said that faith is “believing really hard in something you know isn’t true.” It is one heck of an ironic problem. On some level, faith is an acknowledgment that we are not correct in our assumptions about life. This is why I find it strange when people of faith speak with certainty. What I like about faith is that it represents the idea that we haven’t figured everything out. We hope something is true, even though the evidence points in another direction. My issue with Augustine’s quote is he jumps from uncertainty to certainty in less than a sentence. If you know him by faith, you can’t be certain you’ll know him by sight.

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