There’s no question that the concept of faith lies at the core of the Christian message. The word itself is used more t
han a hundred times in the New Testament alone, appearing endlessly in sermons, pamphlets and books throughout the long sweep of Christian history. More important still; it is the central response to the Gospel message that is expected of every believer, leading Protestants of the Reformation era to pronounce ‘salvation by faith alone’ as one of the great common foundations that we must hold to.
If this single word is so vital to our understanding of what it means to be a Christian and what is expected of us, then one of the most important questions we can ever stop to ask should be obvious; what exactly is it?
The goal of this six week course is to challenge common views of what the word “faith” actually means through an exploration of key verses and the history of Christian thought. Common misconceptions often assume that faith only exists where evidence doesn’t or view it in lasting opposition to good works, and the background of these misunderstandings will be examined. We will also focus on the words “trust” and more particularly, “allegiance”, as terms that capture much of what is meant in the Bible when “faith” is used. A careful look at how the word is applied throughout Scripture as well as the implied level of commitment throughout the New Testament will underwrite this perspective. We will also explore how salvation by faith alone has been expressed and understood by the spiritual leaders and thinkers that came before us. On a practical level, we will look at what it means to have something more than just an intellectual assent to the tenants of Christianity, considering how allegiance, faithfulness and commitment were expressed in Biblical times and must still be expressed today.