What is Christian Faith?
What is faith? Faith involves a decision about a statement’s truthfulness based on our evaluation of the facts. For purposes of our Catholic faith, those statements involve divine truth which are gracefully given to us as a gift from God.
We choose to believe in things every day. When I told you that I am studying to be a priest, for various reasons in your intellect (i.e. you saw me wearing the collar and serving Mass), you chose to believe me. You had faith in what I said.
Faith may be a choice of our free will, but it is also a gift from God. Faith originates with God and not us.
Scripture gives us two examples of faith as a gift from God. When Peter declares Jesus’ divinity, for example, Jesus responds by giving him the keys to heaven. Because faith is a gift, Jesus knew that this revelation was supernatural: given to Peter by God The Father. Faith can never begin with the individual, but rather begins with God in the form of the gift of grace.
Faith as gift must be accepted also in light of God’s nature. God does not force Himself upon us, but rather wants us to choose to believe in Him freely. Free will is given to and preserved in all mankind because it is the very arena in which the salvation of our souls is fought. And so while grace is a subtle prompting, an attraction to the divine and a state of enlightenment which predisposes man to divine truth, it does not have the ability to control our will.
The waves of grace could come crashing at but will never erode the sandy shores of our free will. Faith in God, therefore, is both a gift and also an authentically human act.
By Ryan Bilodeau