Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Religions as "faiths"

It is common in our culture to see religion as a matter of faith. Indeed, religions are sometimes even called “faiths”.

Here is a reason why one should be cautious with conceptualizing things in this way. Faith is a specifically Christian concept, with Christianity being centrally conceptualized as a matter of faith in Jesus Christ. To think about all religions in terms of faith is to presuppose that the Christian understanding of what is central to Christianity yields a correct way of understanding the life of other religions.

Either Christianity is or is not basically true.

If Christianity is basically true, then its self-understanding in terms of faith is likely correct. However, the truth of Christianity does not give one good reason to think other religions, with the possible exception of Judaism, would be rightly understood in terms of the concept of faith.

If Christianity is not basically true, then we should be cautious even about its own self-characterization. Self-understanding is an epistemic achievement, and if Christianity is not basically true, then we should not take it for granted that faith has the central role it is claimed to have. And we should certainly not expect that the self-characterization of a religion that is not true should also apply to other religions.


Walter Van den Acker said...


I think if we take a broad definition of faith, then most religions do seem to be a matter of faith. I have often heard non-christian theists say something like, "I trust (meaning I have faith in the God(s) I believe in) that things will work out fine"

steve said...

It's often said that some non-Christian religions center on orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy.