WHAT DO WE MEAN BY "FAITH'? R.D.Ice 11/99
I have rewritten some things said by A. Campbell on Faith in his writings.
Churches of Christ follow Campbell's "Common Sense" method of understanding the Bible. When we read a newspaper we use the "laws of language" without micro-examining each individual word. Campbell looked for direct commands, approved examples, and necessary inferences. Since the Bible cannot contradict itself, what is said in one place must be understood and qualified by what is said in other places. And all that JESUS said, did, and taught was exactly right.
"Faith, as it is commonly used, means both the act of believing, and also the fact or system believed. The underlying idea is trust and confidence. "Proof" is defined as the evidence that compels acceptance - the mind of a truth or fact. In a court of law, evidence is given by witnesses who may or may not be telling the truth. A pattern of testimony is built up, and judge and jury must decide the probability of truth or falsehood as accurately as they can about the facts of the matter. Faith is quite closely involved. "Proof" is rarely based upon first hand knowledge. Our technical society is made possible by the "faith" which allows us to accumulate empirical knowledge that comes "second hand" to us and to then act upon it with certainty.
Campbell pointed out that the power in faith was the FACT believed rather than the act of believing. He told this story (which I have updated) to illustrate this.
"As we came near to the city we met crowds of people, both men and women, who appeared to be running for their lives! Some had not brought a thing with them; husbands had left wives; parents their children; and children their parents. I asked everyone who would stop and listen, what was happening? Everyone always answered: 'The Enemy have invaded and are near to our city!' 'Have they reached it,' I asked? 'No,' they said. 'Are they in sight,' I asked? Again they said no, 'Why the frantic rush,' I asked? Every line of their face and tone of their voice showed the terror which gripped them, 'Twelve men of undoubted honesty have brought us word that the enemy are just at hand with weapons of destruction and the war is upon us!'
I joined the crowd of fugitives, and as we reached the safety of an underground shelter, I thought: 'What an advantage to mankind to have been given by God the ability to be so certain of things they have not seen, nor experienced, and to be impelled into action because of what they believe to be true, just as though they had already seen it. The people in this shelter have been saved from destruction - saved by faith, It was not their faith, in the abstract, but rather the fact believed that impelled them to take this action. These people were saved by the belief of one fact, and that fact was so important to them that it changed their views and practice"
We draw these conclusions:
1. All men and women act on the basis of what they believe to be true.
2. Faith always proceeds according to the fact believed. Joy and sorrow, love and hate, fear and hope, are the effects of the fact believed, and not the effects of the manner of believing.
3. Evidence alone produces faith - testimony which can be believed is all that is necessary to faith. Romans 10:17.
4. Faith, by itself, abstract, produces nothing, Faith and opinions have nothing to do with each other. It is not a man's believing that saves his soul, but what he does believe to be true. 1 John 5:4-5
5. The great question is: What is fact or truth?
6. No person can help believing when the evidence of truth catches his attention. And without evidence it is as impossible to believe, as to bring something out of nothing.
7. Men may be deceived and may deceive others, therefore we sometimes put little confidence in those things they say, God's testimony is infallible, Compare John 20:24-31; Acts 17:11.
FAITH - Compact Bible Dictionary
"In the OT, the word "faith" is rare, but the concept is conveyed by the use of such verbs as "believe," "trust," and "hope." Abraham exemplifies faith for he believed and obeyed God unreservedly. The basis of the covenant of Sinai from the Israelite side was the accepting and believing God in His self-revelation in the Law and saving acts. The prophets persistently called the people to believe, to trust, and to obey their God."
"In the NT, faith is obviously an important concept and the word is common. Jesus called for faith in God as the Father and in Himself as the Messiah. The apostles called for faith in, and commitment to, Jesus as God’s divinely appointed Messiah and Lord. in particular, Paul emphasized faith centered on Christ and active in love as the primary response of sinners to the gospel of God. James emphasized that merely believing the facts of the gospel was not enough; true faith results in acts of love. True faith is faithful to God for it means both believing or trusting and obeying. Deut. 32:20; Habakkuk 2:4; Genesis 12:1-2; 15:1-6; Romans 4:18-22; Mark 11:22; Matt. 18:6; John 14:1; Luke 11:28; Gal. 5:25; 6:8; James 2:17-26."