Faith Explained

2009-4-25 06:31:00

A reader wrote me that they were having a conversation with an LDS (Mormon) authority over my teachings on faith where the following was stated:

"What of those who the Savior has said "thy faith hath made thee whole." So was it their ability to logically reason to others that that made them whole? The woman who touched the hem of Christ's cloak was noticed by the Savior, not because of a logical argument or externalization, but because the Lord felt virtue leave him. There was no reasoning when the Savior healed the blind man, repaired the lame, and no logic expressed when he raised the dead child -- only silent pleas for help and unwavering hope that he was who he said he was."

The reader then wrote:

"I searched both my own memory of and The Archives to see if you had discussed the topic of "faith" as described in these specific instances, and could neither remember nor find where you had. "As you can see from what he has written that he is essentially stating that by virtue of these examples that one does NOT have to use ANY 'logic or reasoning' or even understanding in order to have 'faith' -- but only has to 'believe' as described in the above events. "Can you possibly shed any light on either what it is or was that these people were actually 'exhibiting' or to at least help me to understand how it is that what is being called 'faith' in the above instances is not 'faith' but something else?"


The apparent problem here comes from my definition of faith which this reader is evidently using as follows:

In the New Testament faith comes from PISTIS, which is derived from the root word PEITHO which basically means "to prove a thing true or false by evidence, argument, reason or experiment and through the guidance of your inner authority."

This LDS authority apparently believes I am wrong here because many of the people Jesus healed were simple folk who didn't apply much reasoning, but just believed and were healed. Isn't faith then just a simple belief?

Two points here:

  1. I didn't just make up this definition from my imagination but got it from studying the core meaning of the Greek PISTIS from whence it came.
  2. If all faith was or is a simple belief, then why is it that most of the things that people believe in do not materialize? Some people believe they will be healed and are healed. Others also believe and are not healed. Did the second just not believe strong enough? I've seen some pretty strong believers not get that they want.

The basic problem here is the LDS guy just doesn't understand my teachings on faith, and not even that of his own religion. Alma, Chapter 32 in the Book of Mormon explains it pretty good.

The important point to understand is that a person does not have to be a genius or Socrates to use sound principles or even advanced technology. Some pretty simple people use complicated computers as well as the advanced technology that goes into their big screen TVs.

The remote control for my TV has 46 buttons on it, but only one of them will turn it on and off. If I want to turn the TV on I must press the right button. None of the others will work. Now many fairly simple folk, including myself, have a similar remote. It matters not whether the person has great reasoning powers or not, he must follow some simple basic logic that will lead him to pressing the right button. If he does not the TV will not go on.

Even so it is with the simple folk who Jesus healed. They must press the right button of faith or it just will not work.

And who says the people that Jesus healed were that simple? The scriptures says nothing of their intelligence. It is quite possible that those who were successfully healed contemplated the true meaning of faith. After all, their word for faith had a much more complete meaning in that day than the English word we use today.

Let us then apply the original meaning of faith in connection with a typical person healed by Jesus.

There was a man named Timothy who lived with an infirmity in the days of Jesus and could not be healed by orthodox methods. He did, however, believe it was possible to be healed through the exercise of faith. He had already gone to three faith healers and nothing happened. This did not deter him though for he still believed a supernatural healing was possible. One thing he concluded, however, was that he did not seem to have the knowledge or power to heal himself. He had to find someone who understood faith healing greater than himself.

After much searching he finally came across Jesus and decided to give him a try. While waiting in line he heard many testimonies about his healing power, some even saying he was the son of God. This gave Timothy encouragement and straightened his belief that something good may happen.

Finally, he gets to see Jesus. The Master looks him in the eye, grabs his hand and states, "Your faith has made you whole."

As Jesus made this statement the thing that first impressed Timothy the most was his sublime confidence. Did Jesus really think that saying this would produce results?

But during the next couple seconds Jesus held him fast and fixed his gaze as Timothy felt a current of energy surging through his body. This got his attention and he returned the eye contact and suddenly felt like he was merging with this strange man. When Jesus let go of his hand Timothy stood up and found that all of his pain was gone and he seemed to be healed.

He turned to the Master and said, "Am I truly healed?"

"Yes," said Jesus.

"Thank you," said Timothy about a half dozen times.

"Thank God," said Jesus, "and remember your faith has made you whole."

Now Timothy had gone to other faith healers and believed but nothing happened. This time it was different. Did he have faith with Jesus, but not the others?

Not really. The truth is this: Timothy had faith from the beginning of his illness.

Again, the meaning I gave for faith is "to prove a thing true or false by evidence, argument, reason or experiment and through the guidance of your inner authority."

Timothy believed a spiritual healing was possible and sought to prove the truth of this through experiment, through reason, through evidence and through guidance from his inner authority.

Even though the first three healers did not work for him he believed that a healer with the correct knowledge could help him. By faith he proved his belief to be true when he met Jesus.

He did not give up on proving his belief to be true and when it was proven true he, at that moment, realized he was exercising true faith.

If a teaching or principle is true, faith will prove it. If a teaching or supposed principle is false, true faith will prove them false and lead to the true.

To further understand faith, Hebrews, Chapter 11 is helpful:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb 11:1)

We can again find that the Greek will give us a much clearer translation here. "Substance" comes from HUPOSTASIS and in modern translations it is usually rendered "assurance" or "confidence" but in reality one English word cannot do it justice. It more literally means "That state of mind which supports an idea through a sustained effort." "Evidence" comes from ELEGECHOS which means "to prove a matter true or false." The word indicates that faith establishes the true reality. Thus a clearer translation of the preceding verse would be:

"Now faith is having that state of mind which sustains that which is hoped for and reveals the truth of those things we do not see."

This definition corresponds much better with the root meaning of the Greek PISTIS which is translated as "faith."


"Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought."
  -- Henri Bergson (1859 - 1941)