20/20 Faith


I’ve been struck by the word.

Its overuse, its watered down meaning, its misconceptions and misinterpretations. I actually found a definition or two that flat out say, “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof” and “accepted without reason or evidence and often in spite of evidence” (emphases mine).

These are certainly the most absurd definitions I’ve ever heard correlated with faith. If faith was belief without finding, we would consider faith a tool of total idiots and the mentally unstable.

The reality is, our culture has greatly abused the word and given it a new meaning (and stigma) entirely.


Not a mental exercise of choosing to believe something or someone unprovable exists or will act.


In Greek, the word for faith is pistis. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines the fullness of pistis (pisteuo) as, “a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth, a personal surrender to that truth, a conduct inspired by such surrender.”

This, Vine’s points out, is in contrast to the notion that faith is “a purely natural exercise, which consists of an opinion held in good ‘faith’ without necessary reference to its proof.”

Faith, therefore, involves belief (a firm conviction), evidence (acknowledgment of God’s revelation or truth), acceptance of the evidence (a personal surrender to that truth) and action (conduct inspired by such surrender).

A very different definition from the ones I began with.

The Hebrew language only acts to further establish the Greek understanding of “faith.” The words emunah and aman/amen most closely mean, “certainty” and “to be certain, enduring to trust, believe.” These words translate to convey our word of choice, faith (and truth, which are almost synonymous in Hebrew, sharing their root).

Going deeper yet, this word “faith” (emunah) is an “action oriented word meaning ‘support’… the Western concept of faith places the action on the one you have faith in, such as “faith in God”. But, the Hebrew word אמונה places the action on the one who ‘supports God'” (Jeff A. Benner). Faith, then, is not simply knowing that God will act, but asking “How does my certainty/belief translate into action on its behalf?”

Greek and Hebrew literature, of course, cement these meanings of faith. “Faith is being sure… Faith is being certain… By faith we understand…” (Hebrews 11)

Faith is worthy of our attention. Worthy of our dissection. Something not left to idiots and the mentally unstable, though they are as welcome as any to share in its fruit. No, faith is meat for the scientific, the analytical, the philosopher. Faith calls us to more than wishful thinking and desperate hopes. Faith calls for decision. Faith beckons with revelation. Faith doesn’t release you with proclamation alone, but with stirrings and passion to move onward, to change things, to change yourself. To act on its behalf in ways deemed impossible, perhaps, but truer than any hypothesis or speculation could offer. Faith is the true legacy of a person. Faith is not for the faint of heart. Its not for liars. Rationalizers. Avoiders of truth. The weak.

Faith. Faith is not blind. Faith has better than 20/20 vision.

Faith without evidence is superstition, not faith. They have errantly become two words with the same meaning. Faith is not for the “irrational, uneducated, unintelligent, or unintellectual view of life.” Nor is unbelief  “a rational and intelligent and enlightened view of the universe” (-James Kennedy)

Everyone has it.

In one sense, we all operate every day on faith in many different areas of our lives. If you’ve ever eaten at a restaurant, accepted a doctor’s prescription, or planned for the future, you have certainly been operating on a degree of faith, that in fact, may be a bit blind. As C. S. Lewis said, most of the things you believe are believed on authority, secondary evidence, etc. For example, you may never have actually seen a molecule, but you have no doubt that molecules exist. Even more to the point, we are confident that things like gravity, time, the laws of logic, and true love exist even though we cannot see them. Of course, experience and rational investigation should increase your confidence in what is true. -FaithFacts

To what have you a firm conviction? What has produced in you a full acknowledgement of revelation or truth? To what have you personally surrendered? To what does your conduct reflect your surrender?”

Has your job or career proven to you that it is worthy of your surrender and loyalties?

Has your wealth?

Has the government’s welfare system?

Has your spouse?

Has your education?

Has true love?


“Faith wich refuses to face indisputable facts is but little faith.” -Albert Schweitzer

“Faith does not admit of telling. It has to be lived and then it becomes self-propagating.” -Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Real works are the natural products of faith taking its next step.” -Paul Goodman

“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” -Abraham Lincoln

“True faith is never merely a source of spiritual comfort. It may indeed bring peace, but therefore it does so it must involve us in struggle. A ‘faith’ that avoids these struggles is really a temptation against true faith.” -Thomas Merton

“Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Without reason we would not know how to apply the insights of faith to the concrete issues of living… The rejection of reason is cowardice and betrays a lack of faith.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel

*quotes taken from Quotationary