Thursday, September 18, 2008

What Is The Difference Between Faith & Belief?

I have been thinking lately about faith and belief. I wonder, is there a difference between the two? I mean, as children we believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny. Yet can a child have faith? Does faith go deeper than belief? Is belief the beginning of faith? How does belief and faith work in our lives? Is it faith or belief that drives and motivates our lives?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.


Blogger AncientWanderer said...

The main difference in the two is the WHO defines them.

There is both a worldly faith and a worldly belief.

Then there is godly faith and godly belief.

Thank you for your prayers and stopping by.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

I'm not sure how to answer. I would say that there are different definitions of faith. For example, Evangelism Explosion talks about "intellectual" faith, "temporal" faith, and how they are critically different from "saving" faith.

Personally, I believe that atheists have a kind of faith, too. There are things that a person believes, though he may not see it all. I have found that it offends some of them to hear me say that they have faith, but to date, I have not been satisfied with their ability to refute it.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

The denotation of these words may be the same in English, but there is possibly a difference in connotation. When I hear "belief" it gives me the impression of content of faith, while "faith" implies to me an element of active trust. In reality, though, there probably isn't really all that much difference between the words in their meaning.

10:41 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

how about one starts with a "b" while the other starts with an "f". no? awwww rats. thought i had the answer!

oh, well, here is what i found online, yes, i cheated...and looked it up at the online etymology dictionary page.

very interesting...but, i am still not sure that i can keep it straigt.

c.1175, replaced O.E. geleafa, from W.Gmc. *ga-laubon (cf. O.S. gilobo, M.Du. gelove, O.H.G. giloubo, Ger. glaube), from *galaub- "dear, esteemed." The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c. Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty" (a sense preserved in keep one's faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of L. fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to "mental acceptance of something as true," from the religious use in the sense of "things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine" (c.1225).

10:43 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Mind if I add one more thing?

The difference in what I call "saving" faith is like the Niagara tightrope illustration. The people believed that the stuntman was capable of safely carrying a person over in a wheelbarrow, but when asked if they would volunteer to hop in and make the trek across, it proved to require more faith than they could muster. All they had was intellectual assent. Jesus doesn't ask us if we think he is capable of saving us... he actually wants us to "get in the wheelbarrow."

11:22 PM  
Blogger Scott Packett said...

I believe the greatest difference between the two is I believe most things that I can see and touch and evaluate. However, when I faith in something, I can't really 'physically' do that. Faith to me is belief in the unseen, as Hebrews tells us. I believe that the fire is hot, because I know that it is. Faith really can't be proven, scientifically. That is why I hate when a theologian tries to debate with a scientist about creation vs evolution. I believe in creation because of my faith in the truth and infallibility of God's Word.

Just my take on the topic. :)

11:37 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

There is no Santa Claus???? Wahhhhhhh!!!! Sob!!!! Booo Hooo!

You are joking of course?

Thanks for you kind words my friend and the same goes for you!

2:29 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Faith and belief. Good question and you frame it well, Kinney.

It's more messy than a simple formula. A child may trust in Jesus, but not understand much. God knows when they have saving faith. But on the other hand, as an older person hears the message of Christ crucified they may believe and begin a life of faith. Of course faith has a beginning and includes belief and trust and commitment, as well as submission, as far as the content goes in context where it's used.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Tim Archer said...

Faith is belief acted upon.

9:59 AM  
Blogger cwinwc said...

For me, I'd say that "belief" is a conclusion, position, or truth I hold to be true or right.

"Faith" is the degree that I'm willing to hold on to any belief without questioning it or having it questioned by others.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Crowm said...

I'm with Tim Kinney. Faith is acting upon one's belief. Even the demons believe. But the faith we're called to have is more than simple belief.

Blessings Bro!

12:50 PM  
OpenID said...

Faith in God involves three things:

1) Belief in Him, 2) Trust in Him to keep His word, and 3) Obedience to Him.

Yes, it's belief, but it's belief with legs on it.

3:15 PM  
Blogger laymond said...

PM; Tim said "Faith is belief acted upon."
But maybe, faith is a belief that requires no action.

think about it:)

4:49 PM  
Blogger TREY MORGAN said...

Hold on just a minute. I believe in Santa. What are you saying?


10:41 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I am sorry to ruin your belief in Santa. :-)

I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this subject.

I think there is a God-shaped whole within all man. What we feel it with is definately up to each one of us.

I think belief is the beginning of faith.
Faith goes deeper and prompts us to act.

Again, thank you everyone for your thoughts and comments. It was an interesting discussion.

10:05 AM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Hebrews 12, Baby!
"Faith is the substance of things not seen, and the evidence of things hoped for".

Preacherman, Thanks for stopping by my blog. I need to begin another blog item. I've been slacking intentionally. You see, sometimes when I have trouble in my life that I am a large part of, I have to wait for the Spirit to guide my studies. I shut down on my own power. Wait and see. I'll have something Spirit filled in a few days. I'm beginning to feel God tell me it is time to get back to work.

9:45 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I understand what you mean.
Thanks for your thoughts and comments.
I am looking forward to reading your new post.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Cheryl Russell said...

Hmmmmmm. I'm thinking about my family. They believe in Christ, but don't have faith that motivates them to accept Him and have relationship with Him.

1:36 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I will pray for a faith that will motivate. Cheryl thank you so very much for your thoughts and comments.

1:55 PM  
Blogger cwinwc said...

There's no Santa! Say it ain't so.

2:15 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Sorry to burst some bubbles!! :-)
I'm just glad my boys don't read this blog yet. :-)

7:10 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Belief can be no more than giving mental assent to a set of facts. For instance, George Washington was the first President of the U.S. I believe that to be true. I don't have "faith" in that fact.

Faith, in the context of the Bible is: 1. Intellectual. Like belief, we gather facts from what we hear (good news about Christ) 2. Emotional. At some point we must embrace those facts in our heart. 3.Volitional. We must act on what we have heard and embraced. Only then is it faith.

So, if I teach salvation by "faith alone in Christ alone" I am not teaching that if someone agrees to a set of facts they are saved. What I am teaching is that one who depends on, trusts in or on, relies on, puts his faith in Jesus is saved. Embedded in that "faith" is repentance (change fo mind), obedience (including all the observable responses to the gospel), and perseverance (faith is not a one time act but a continual dependent trust in Christ).


9:27 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Wonderfully put.
I totally agree.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Scott Packett said...


Great explanation. I totally agree with how you have thoughtfully and theologically worded your response. If you don't mind, I might want to use this in my church's study on evangelism. Thanks for the insight, and Kenny, as always thanks for posing some good questions.

4:47 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

"Faith is the substance of things not seen, and the evidence of things hoped for".

faith is substance...our heart can see.
faith is gives us freedom.

belief that we embrace with the heart..we see with our heart after we believe. and the Holy Spirit can speak to our spirit.

because we see with our hearts, we are able to act on what the Holy Spirit is saying to our spirit.

faith is praise to God in all

doubt is complaint

faith is a relationship with God, putting our trust in HIm, looking to Him, and God allowing us to see more of Himself. loyalty to eachother within His promise and our need.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Q said...

I believed in Santa... but I had faith that he would bring me presents. I think faith involves knowledge of action.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Liz Moore said...

Good question... and the answers are sometimes a struggle for me. For example in prayer, I have faith that God will answer, but I sometimes wonder when I keep praying for things, do I really believe God is going to answer. I feel like the person in Mark who said "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

11:20 AM  
OpenID salguod said...

There are some good thoughts here.

I was going to say essentially what Tim said., but then I read Laymond's comment and that made my scratch my head a bit. :-D

I guess I'd still say I agree with Tim, but I appreciate Laymond's point as well. Perhaps our belief ascends into faith when we are prompted to act on it, however God does not wait for our actions to act on our belief, or our faith, or, uh ...

Boy, you could give yourself a real headache thinking through that!

10:17 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I came across your blog as I was research this same question. What is the difference between faith and belief. As I look at scripture, I see one main difference. That is action. The woman that reached out and touched the hem of Christ's robe was told her faith healed her. The people that came to seek Christ out to ask him to heal people. Abram as he left his home land for an unknown place. David and goliath. Noah. These are the ones who had faith.

Belief is referred to in a different manner. There are examples of belief leading to faith, but in and of itself, belief seems to refer to a mental state of accepting something as true. I think we see this in James where it says that even the demons believe that Jesus is God.

I think that Ananias and Saphira from Acts 5 probably believed that Christ was Savior, but they did not have faith in what they believed so they kept back some of what they had promised to give.

I often am lacking faith. I believe that God is good. That He takes care of His Children. That his plans are better. I know those things to be true. But, I have a difficult time having faith in those truths. I have a hard time taking actions that reflect my beliefs.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Zsuzsanna said...

Hello Brothers and Sisters!

I'm glad for this topic about faith and belief, because I am from Hungary.
AND in my language there is only one word for the faith/believe.
So I thought that the english translation of the Bible is better, and give better understanding, but I dont know what is the different in these two words.

The English and Hungarian dictionary and the Hungarian- English dictionary give the same result:

faith : hit /hungarian/
belief: hit /hungarian/

hit: belief, faith, religion, creed, affiance

And therefore I searching for better understanding.

For example there is the 2 Thess. 3,3.

"But the Lord is faithful"
in hungarian there is not the "hit" word but in english 'true' or 'loyal'.

I really would like to know what is the most important different.

I think that the english language give better understanding...

8:31 AM  
Blogger Zsuzsanna said...

What is the different in

Believe in God.
Faith in God.

What is the different?

8:34 AM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Another way to say what I said earlier. I am told I need brain surgery. I learn about a doctor who is qualified and has a good track record. I "believe" he can do the job.

I have "faith" in him when I put my life in his hands.


8:58 AM  
Blogger Zsuzsanna said...

Thank you Royce!

6:07 PM  
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