“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
At pub night last night, we talked about faith – what it is; what it isn’t; whether it mixes well with reason; whether it mixes well with doubt. As with any topic, there were a lot of differing opinions, and probably no universal agreement at any point.
Toward the end of the evening, this verse was presented, and people gave their honest opinions about whether the author of Hebrews’ definition of faith was compatible with their own. Some said yes. Some said no. One said they thought this better reflected “belief” than “faith.”
Amid the discussion, one person said something very interesting. It was something like “there are a lot of bad things I’m certain of, even though I don’t see them. I don’t have faith in any of those things, though. You can’t have faith in evil.”
In this person’s mind, then, faith is always a positive thing; faith is always pointed firmly in the direction of what is good. As I reflected on the drive home, that stuck with me. I think they’re on to something. A lot of the other words that we use as synonyms for faith are ambiguous. Belief, knowledge, and certainty can all be in regard to evil just as easily as (sometimes, it feels like more easily than) good.
Faith, though, cannot be evil, because faith can only be placed in that which is good. I don’t know if that’s perfectly compatible with how dictionaries define the term, and I’m confident a great many theologians would take issue with it, but the morning after hearing it, I’ve got to say it sits just fine with me.
What does faith mean to you?