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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: Faith versus Belief

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  March 1, 2021 --

Hebrews 11 1. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.


Sometimes people use the words “Faith” and “Belief” as though they are interchangeable, but often in context they have different meanings. When we translate from the Bible into English the same word in the original Hebrew or in the original Greek may sometimes be translated “faith” and at another time “belief”.  It is all a matter of context.  But for me Faith is something I am absolutely sure of, with a firm foundation, needing no argument to convince me, while Belief does not have quite as firm a foundation.  Some things I once believed I now am not so certain about and am quite willing to think that perhaps I was mistaken.


Note also that for any individual Faith is always singular, while Beliefs may be plural. I have one faith, but I may hold many beliefs.  If some of those beliefs turn out not to be true it does not shake my faith.  According to one dictionary definition: belief is an opinion or judgment in which one is fully persuaded. Faith is complete trust or confidence in a person or thing. Thus, they are similar, but there is an important difference. I am certain of my faith, but I have less confidence in my beliefs. Faith inspires one to good works, this being an outward manifestation of faith, as St. James says. Many of my beliefs, being mostly matters of opinion, are less likely to drive me to decisive action.


Again, faith tends to bring people together, while differences in belief tend to drive them apart. When I lived in East Texas, I was astonished at the very large number of very small churches scattered across the countryside. I was told that this was a result of countless disputes among congregations over minor points of doctrine, causing them to split and set up separate churches. It got so bad that the State of Texas revised its tax law, stating that a church must have at least ten members to claim tax-exempt status.  What a sad commentary when beliefs become more important than faith.



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