WTF is Faith, anyway?

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Heber13
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Heber13 » 24 Jul 2009, 13:11

jeriboy wrote:For me the more I learn, the more questions I can ask for which I cannot get answers. Faith fills in the gaps, and I am content with the way things are.
I think faith can do that...and that works for me too. Although Faith also is a deep and complex thing as well. It can move in and out of stages of development and what was my faither 10 years ago doesn't work for me now.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Pappanoon
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Pappanoon » 25 Jul 2009, 17:58

Some thoughts…

I personally like to break this issue down into four separate parts: ignorance, belief, faith, and knowledge. However, my definitions of these vary a bit from the norm.

Ignorance = No awareness of something. For example, you can’t have belief, faith or knowledge of anything you’ve never heard of before or have no awareness of in any way.

Belief = Believing that something’s true with no real evidence or justification to believe it. You “just believe.” This is what many religious folks would refer to as faith. I think Faith is more than this. The scriptures don’t talk about faith this way. I don’t know why we should.

Faith = Not knowing that something is true, but believing that it is true based on some evidence or reasonable arguments. Alma basically taught, “Don’t just believe this blindly. Try this experiment to see if it works.” Likewise, Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I have difficulty interpreting either of those definitions as "blind faith." I also like what B.H. Roberts said about faith (part of which is in my signature):

“I maintain that ‘simple faith’ -- which is so often ignorant and simpering acquiescence, and not faith at all -- but simple faith taken at its highest value, which is faith without understanding of the thing believed, is not equal to intelligent faith, the faith that is a gift from God, supplemented by earnest endeavor to find through prayerful thought and research a rational ground for faith -- for acceptance of truth; and hence the duty of striving for a rational faith in which the intellect as well as the heart -- the feeling -- has a place and is a factor.” (B.H. Roberts on the Intellectual and Spiritual Quest, Seventy’s Course in Theology, vol. 5)

I also think faith has a lot to do with hope or desire. What do you hope is true? Generally you will pursue what you hope for to see if you can get it. Hope generates action. Action generates substance or evidence. Which in turn, increase your faith or belief in something. To me, that fits pretty well.

Knowledge = This is a tough one. “Know” is a pretty tough word for me. I don’t think there’s a whole lot that we really “know.” I know that I think and that I feel and therefore that I exist. Beyond that, everything is just different levels of faith to me. I like the thoughts of the philosopher William James when he said that things are “true in so far forth,” meaning, everything we claim to know is subject to change based on new information. However, you have no choice but to go with the greatest amount of evidence at any given time. You have to follow your evidence-based faith in order to do anything at all in this life. (Case in point: Once, after a particularly thought-provoking metaphysics class in college, I told my brother that I couldn't prove that he actually existed. He simply replied, "How about if I come over there and pop you one in the face. Then tell me whether or not you think I exist." The point was well-taken. ;) )

In reality, most of what we claim to know is really just faith. I’ve never been to Australia. I don’t know (first hand) that it exists. Yet I believe in (have faith in) all of the evidence I’ve seen and heard that suggests that such a place actually exists. I have so much faith in it that I would get on a plane and travel there fully believing that I'll find it. Yet, it is all faith…just accompanied by a high level of substance and evidence.

I think faith in religion should work basically the same way.

FWIW, that’s what I think. :)
I maintain ‘simple faith’...which is faith without understanding of the thing believed, is not equal to intelligent faith,...hence the duty of striving for a rational faith in which the intellect as well as the heart has a place. B.H. Roberts

Poppyseed
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Poppyseed » 27 Jul 2009, 06:39

Hey Pappanoon....I like how you end with the "substance and evidence" comment. I feel the "substance" too.

I was thinking last night about how faith relates to praying. So many times I have felt that God wasn't answering my prayers, but then I look back and I am not sure my prayers were full of faith all of the time. And maybe that is ok....I mean there has to be a place for desperate prayers. The act alone is a gesture of faith. But I guess I was thinking about faith in terms of making things happen and how I can apply that to my life today. I think there is a difference in effectiveness of prayer when faith is applied.....when one believes there will be an outcome even with the provision of "thy will be done" attached.

I was also remembering the time last year when I needed to get out of a bad situation and I was pleading with the Lord for answers and then looking for his hand to show me where to go next. The Lord put this idea in my head to sell my house. I didn't really have the faith to try that, I mean, would anyone really buy my house? So I kinda sat on the idea. In the next days my H got a job offer out of the blue with sweet compensation and I decided to put a sign on my house just to see if God would make something happen. I had two offers by noon and sold the house by the end of the day. And I just kinda looked up into the heaven's and knew God had made that all happen. Pretty amazing stuff, faith. :D

I need to apply more of that faith and trust now in my life now. I think I have dwelt on my concerns and doubts and disappointments too much. It seems to me that there is always a choice to choose the path of faith in relying on the Lord, or the path of doubt relying on the arm of the flesh. Seems sometimes like I really have to discipline myself towards the faith.


PS. There was a time when I wondered if this process had nothing to do with God. I mean maybe I was just discovering what the author of "The Secret" discovered. I think I have decided that there is a God and those guys are just discovering a piece of what God knows. :D
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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J-Pip
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by J-Pip » 13 Aug 2009, 12:10

In general, the people in this community are very familiar with scripture J-Pip. We don't tend to need a lot of quotes recited. You've posted similar advice elsewhere in the form of Bible quotes. We all have a copy of the Bible. What can you share from your experience and your personal journey of faith? Have you struggled with faith and found a way to recapture those feelings of the Spirit by seeing things from a different and new perspective? That is what really helps us here in our community -- that sharing.

What would you say to someone who struggles with the existence of God, or that it is important to have faith? Simply saying "try harder" or "just do it" doesn't really satisfy most concerns. Those answers are obvious to someone blessed with the spiritual gift of faith. They are irritating answers to people who are struggling. It ends up sounding like "you don't know 'cause you didn't try." When in fact many that come here have given their all for that experience of confirmation so often talked about in the Church.

I found it interesting that No one mentioned Hebrews 11:1 when someone is asking what faith is. What better answer could someone give than the definition of faith in God's inspired word. My knowledge and advice isn't going to be better than the word of God. Our own thoughts or feelings are not what we should use for guidance since " the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" "but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members." (oops more scripture references)
Why search for Godly things in an ungodly creature?

Poppyseed
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Poppyseed » 13 Aug 2009, 12:49

Hi JPip. I haven't met you yet. Hello.
hy search for Godly things in an ungodly creature?
I see what you are saying here and there is wisdom in putting our trust in the words of God over the desires of the natural man. At least, that is what I think you are saying.

But my experience with God recently has been somewhat different than that. I don't know if this applies to everyone or just me considering my circumstances and what God was trying to help accomplish inside of me, but I suspect that it would apply to everyone else too. So much of my recent journey has been God teaching me to look inward into the good and divine parts of me and to trust the righteousness within. I am not completely ungodly. I am a spirit child of deity and so I have capacity for good and for understanding the ways of God and righteousness and I can do much good of my own free will and choice.

I think having faith is not only a trust in God and His ways and wisdom, but it is also trusting ourselves in many ways.

Just my perspective. What do you think about that?
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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HiJolly
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by HiJolly » 13 Aug 2009, 12:52

J-Pip wrote:I found it interesting that No one mentioned Hebrews 11:1 when someone is asking what faith is. What better answer could someone give than the definition of faith in God's inspired word.

Yes, like Alma 32:21 And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
J-Pip wrote:My knowledge and advice isn't going to be better than the word of God. Our own thoughts or feelings are not what we should use for guidance since " the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" "but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members." (oops more scripture references)

So, if you don't take guidance from your thoughts or feelings, what DO you take guidance from? And why? I mean, if you take guidance from the bible, why? Because you *think* you can. But that's "thoughts", and you can't trust that. So what do you do?
J-Pip wrote:Why search for Godly things in an ungodly creature?

Because you are a child of God. You may have influence of the "natural man" within you, but when you are born again, that changes.

Mosiah 3:18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Mosiah 27:24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Alma 7:14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

Poppyseed
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Poppyseed » 13 Aug 2009, 13:08

Yes, Hijolley. My thoughts were headed right to this place. If God changes us in terms of our thoughts, natures, understandings, and desires, shouldn't we trust that and put faith in that? I think yes. It think that is part of God's plan is to get us to a place of spiritual independence...."without compulsory means". I think this perspective helps me a little bit with conversations about all the "law of moses-esque" parts of our mormon practice today.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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Heber13
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Heber13 » 13 Aug 2009, 13:47

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

That's a good start. I like HiJolly's quote of Alma 32:21 also...right up there with good scripture. Ok, we've quoted scripture...now what?

The New Testament has been around for a long time. Lots of people (including us here on the site) are familiar with that definition of faith, yet so many applications of that scripture are found throughout the world's history and throughout our blessed church. Quoting that one scripture isn't all that is needed to fully understand what faith is and how it is important to my life.

The Lord needed to restore "one faith and one baptism" through Joseph Smith - so we needed additional clarification on this assurance of things hoped for, among other New Testament teachings.
J-Pip wrote:Why search for Godly things in an ungodly creature?
I haven't read anything yet on this thread from anyone who is "an ungodly creature", so I see no risk of "waging war against [God's] mind". I am glad we have a forum here to openly discuss the interpretations and meanings of God's character, His teachings, His scriptures, His church...which demonstrates perfectly what I think faith is...I am hoping for added knowledge by engaging in good works to discover His will, and make changes to have my "eye single to His glory".

I'd like to better understand J-Pip's faith, "that I may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven". (Ok, do we really need to put so many scriptural quotes in our posts, or can we be more informal and just talk openly?)
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 13 Aug 2009, 17:01

J-Pip, Everyone else has been ultra-kind and loving in their responses - so I will wield the proverbial admin hammer.

Please, don't come here and lecture us about how we need to read the Bible and just do what it tells us to do - regardless of what we think or feel or believe. That approach has led to thousands of years of disagreement and persecution and warfare and torture and death - all over differing interpretations of what you appear to call a simple thing. Many of us here read and study and ponder and believe the Bible - as far as it is translated correctly, but I don't think ANY of us accept it as the inerrant word of God.

You appear to not be Mormon. You appear to be chastising us for not following an evangelical course. Stop it, please. That is not the purpose of this site, and it won't be tolerated - not a bit of it. If I have misunderstood, forgive me - and prove to me that I am wrong; if I am correct, please leave so you won't have to be banned formally.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

swimordie
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by swimordie » 13 Aug 2009, 17:30

Poppyseed wrote: So much of my recent journey has been God teaching me to look inward into the good and divine parts of me and to trust the righteousness within. I am not completely ungodly. I am a spirit child of deity and so I have capacity for good and for understanding the ways of God and righteousness and I can do much good of my own free will and choice.

I think having faith is not only a trust in God and His ways and wisdom, but it is also trusting ourselves in many ways.

Just my perspective. What do you think about that?
I absolutely love it, poppy!! Beautiful! :D
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

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