What Kind of “Faith” Do You Have? (part three)

Read this to see part one.

Read this to read part two.

Here’s a recap: Modern Christianity has misunderstood the word “faith” for primarily “head knowledge agreement with certain principles or truths.”  Yet, there are other ways we should understand faith.

Faith as assensus: faith as belief which I mentioned above.

Faith as Fiducia:  “trust” in God.  Faith as trust is like floating in a deep ocean.

Faith as Fidelitas: “fidelity.”  Faith as fidelity means loyalty, allegiance, the commitment of self at the deepest level, the commitment of the “heart.”

4. Faith as visio: The closest English equivalent is “vision,” which suggests that faith is a way of seeing.  In particular, this is faith as a way of seeing “what is.”

Of course, there are 3 ways we can see and each goes with a particular way of responding to life.  First, we can see reality as hostile and threatening.  God is the one who is going to get us–unless we offer the right sacrifices, behave the right way, or believe the right things.

Second, we can see indifferently.  This is the modern secular viewpoint that what is just is.  Less paranoid than the first but basically characterized by the here and now which leads to being concerned primarily for ourselves and those who are most important to us.

Third, we can see “what is” as life-giving and nourishing.  This is seeing reality as gracious, the way Jesus spoke about the birds and the lilies.  God is generous.  This way of seeing makes possible a different response to life.  It leads to radical trust and frees us from anxiety and self-preoccupation.

Thus, faith as visio is seeing reality as gracious.  Its opposite is seeing reality as hostile and threatening or as indifferent.  This is closely related to fiducia, as trust.  What it adds, though, is that how we see reality and our ability to trust are connected to each other.

Significantly, the last 3 understandings of faith are all relational.  Where did we go wrong?  Certainly Martin Luther’s faith was not primarily assensus.  He is responsible for making “faith” so central to the Christian vocabulary.  Luther started with assensus aplenty but a transformation occurred through an experience of radical grace that transformed how he saw (visio), led him to see that faith was about trusting God (fiducia), and led him to a life of faithfulness (fidelitas) to God.  For Luther, saving faith was not assensus.  It was about visio, fiducia, and fidelitas.

That is not to say that assensus doesn’t play a role.  There ARE affirmations that are central to the Christian faith.  In other words, there are ESSENTIALS to the Christian faith that we must believe, assensus.  But how many people do you know who “accepted Christ” and said the “sinner’s prayer” but have no fiducia, fidelitas, or visio in God?  TONS!  That’s the problem.  We’ve compartmentalized our “beliefs” from our “actions” and our attitudes.

So what kind of faith do you have?  Do you merely have the “head knowledge” down?  The “facts” about God and Jesus and the Bible?  Or do you have that on top of radically trusting God to the point that it’s changed who you are and how you treat others.


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