The Meaning of Faith – From Michael Patton

December 27th, 2007

In my drafts, I’m working on a post about the definition of faith. The working title is “Faith: Does It Have To Be A Blind Leap?” (Though I think I’ll change it to “Blind, Near-sighted, and 20/20 Faith”.) It deals with the definition and use of the word “faith” in the Bible, challenging the idea that faith inherently means something like “blind leap”. Some people will contrast faith and knowledge, saying that if you know something, you don’t have faith–as though faith implies you lack solid knowledge. Hebrews 11:1-3 notwithstanding (“faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”), I don’t believe that’s quite right, and I want to explain how and why.

I bring this up to refer you to a fine entry Michael Patton just wrote on the same subject, called Can I Just Define “Faith” However I Please?. He approaches it from the angle of how perceptions of faith developed since the Reformation. He uses the three elements of faith that the Reformers discussed: notitia (the content of the information or proposition), assensus (intellectual assent), and fiducia (personal trust or reliance).

This is why many in the church today have the right information (notitia) but they blindly trust in that information without considering it in a critical manner. Notitia and fiducia without assensus is blind faith.

Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying that this kind of faith cannot be real, but I am saying that it is dangerous. The more I read about those who have “walked away from the faith” the more I see that their faith was void of this important element that solidifies the truth in their heart.

Am I saying that assensus is the most important aspect of faith? Not at all. All three are equally important. What I am saying is that it is the most neglected. When assensus is neglected, Christianity has no more legitimacy than any other worldview. This is unfortunate.

2 Responses to “The Meaning of Faith – From Michael Patton”

  1. katie says:

    hey tim!

    i noticed your blog is powered by wordpress.org – i think i want to switch to them. i used to be with wordpress.com but now i’d like to use my url and wordpress.org, as you are doing. but i don’t know how! do you think you could help me sometime?

    been enjoying your posts lately. i want to read that packer book!
    katie 🙂

  2. Tim says:

    Sure, I could help you sometime!

    I’ll just explain a bit about how it works: WordPress.com is a free service that will host a blog for you, using the WordPress blog software. WordPress.org is the website where you can go to download the WordPress software for yourself. That gives you more control over your blog–you can then use plugins, and I think you have more control over the format/appearance.

    To use the WordPress software, though, you have to have somewhere to host your site. (When you use WordPress.com, their server stores your files and sends the HTML to someone who visits your site. If you don’t use them, you need some other server to host your stuff.) I already had an account with a web-site provider–I think it’s about $20/month. There might be cheaper providers, and you might have web space with your ISP you could use.