The Theology the Basic : What is Faith - Alister McGrath


What is Faith


1) Trusting God for His promise. ex) people believed Jesus is a Messiah and would be able to heal their diseases.

  • God lies beyond proof by His nature

  • God's existence lies beyond reason. His existence is not contrary to reason. ex) rigorous logical demonstrations, conclusive scientific experiments

  • Faith is about trust in God, rather than just agreeing that God exists.

2) Thomas Aquinas' 5 lines of arguments supporting God's existence

- World mirrors God as its creator. ex) signs of ordering, the world shows obvious traces of intelligent design, purpose-driven/created for a purpose. God is the single original cause of all the motion of all creatures and even earth.


3) Blaise Pascal : “We know the truth, not only through our reason, but also through our heart.”

  • The existence of God is not something that can be proved. Equally, it is not something that can be disproved.’ “Atheism is also a faith”


4) Ludwig Wittgenstein : reasoned defense of their faith

5) John Paul II : by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.


6) John Polkinghorne : Faith is to be understood as motivated belief, based on evidence. - -. Jesus is part of the evidence of God’s existence.

7) Martin Luther : "fiducia" – confidence. Faith is about trusting a God who makes promises and whose promises may be relied upon.

- Faith is not merely believing that something is true ; it is being prepared to act upon that belief and rely upon it. 

- The efficacy of faith does not rest upon the intensity with which we believe, but in the reliability of the one in whom we believe. It is not the greatness of our faith, but the greatness of God, which counts.


Faith and doubt  : the problem of suffering If God is good, why is there suffering and pain in the world?

  • Evil is seen as a necessary prerequisite for spiritual growth and development

  • Evil arises from an abuse of human free will

  • God will not compel human beings to do good.

  • God suffers : God shares in the sufferings of the world

  • Divine decision/willingness to suffer

  • Bonhoeffer : The church is the continuing presence of the messianic suffering of God by being there for others, carrying their burdens and thus fulfilling the duty laid on them by Christ himself. Suffering God has not abandoned his people. He stands by them as a fellow-sufferer, and will bring them home to a place from which suffering and pain have been removed.

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