Gosh Jac, that's pretty cool. Some exchanges I'd forgotten happened. I'd obviously read that paper you wrote, but forgot and remembered your original belief as faith being intellectual assent. I do believe we're much closer today in our beliefs than in the past.
That part I criticised in your paper, I'd be hard pressed to define what faith is in any conclusion.
It's like what is this "faith" that I have, we just have? We know it, know it's so simple even a child can have it, we feel it, it's part of us, but to describe it... to try and explain how people come by it, Christians and even theologians often come unstuck.
You know I think it is quite hard to explain what "faith in Christ" actually entails, especially if we remove it from believing in certain propositions. Sometimes I think it makes us look so foolish as Christians that something so foundational is hard to explain.
I'm leaning towards the difficulty being because faith is not
something we do
Faith in a person necessarily requires the other party (in this case, Christ Himself).
Faith is actually something God helps to build within us until finally we see and possess it.
Many Christians are use to thinking of faith as something they need to do.
We're all familiar with a Christianity which says you must believe. This turns "faith" into something we've got to do.
After all, isn't it important if someone asks us how can they be saved, that we can instruct them what they need to do?
So we say, you've got to believe! Believe what? Oh, believe you're a sinner, that Jesus came and died for your sins and through Him we are forgiven and made righteous before God.
When "faith" becomes something we must do
which results in our being saved, then I see this as the direct opposite of what Paul teaches of faith in his epistles. Faith for Paul is the blank opposite of anything we can do, such that no one can boast.
Further, I don't see in my experiences with non-Christians (nor do I see in Scripture) that faith boils down to belief, though that does form part of it, perhaps the final touches if you will as we see the world with new eyes. Take the common complaint even my wife had, "but I can't force myself to believe something that makes no sense whatsoever!
" And they (non-believers) are right! They can't force themselves to have faith.
And now because they're not doing, not having "faith" (whatever we mean by that), many Christians will chastise non-believers as being dishonest, willfully blind and the like. Such is just our nature however, without any work done by God in us, working in our lives. None of us seek God in our natural state of sin. (Romans 3:10-11; Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20)
So then, faith is something inspired in us by God which eventually flourishes I'd say in our response to Him.
I recently put it like this to a friend. Let me know your thoughts of the analogy?
God I believe pings us in life. Like active sonar of
a submarine in the water, God pings us. He pings our
hearts and waits for an echo. Some hearts respond back,
and then God moves closer to us as we move closer
to Him and God pings them again. The heart echos back
louder and stronger and this keeps happening until a
collision happens. The person experiences and sees God...