24
Oct
08

WHAT IS FAITH?

 

     One of the most important things for both Mormons and Christians to remember when talking with each other is that Mormonism and Christianity defines many terms differently.  But this is also one of the hardest things to remember during the actual discussion.  It is so easy to unconsciously think only of the definition that I am familiar with.  I then end up talking past the other person.

     Not only is this important to remember so that we don’t talk past each other, but it also often lies at the root of why we believe so differently.  A classic example of that is the definition of the word faith.  Christianity defines faith as trust and confidence while Mormonism makes action a vital component of faith.  As the LDS Bible Dictionary states, “Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action”.  Because of these differing definitions, Mormons and Christians hear something drastically different when the Bible talks about salvation through faith.

     Therefore it is important to determine who has the proper definition and thus the proper interpretation of these vital verses.  Obviously I can’t check every dictionary, but none of the ones I checked mentioned anything about action in their definitions of faith.  I also did an Internet search on the definition of faith.  Besides discovering that there were a lot of record albums entitled “Faith”, I did not find any definition from a non-LDS source that included the idea of action.  In addition, most say that faith and belief are synonymous while many Mormons make a distinction between the two.

     More importantly I also refreshed my memory by again looking up the definitions for the Hebrew and Greek words that the Bible uses for faith.  The root idea of those words is assurance and certainty.  For example, this is what the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says about the Hebrew word “aman”.   “At the heart of the meaning of the root is the idea of certainty.”  This is just what the Bible says in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

     On what basis then does Mormonism define faith so differently from everybody else?  This is a very important question as a huge difference about how people are saved hangs in the balance. 

     I also want to make clear that the Bible also teaches that faith will spur people to action.  But that action is a result of faith, and thus is different from faith.  (I elaborated on this in my post of August 8th “Don’t Make the Fruit the Root”.) 

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14 Responses to “WHAT IS FAITH?”


  1. 1 crazychristcraver
    October 24, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Wow, a very good question. I think that although in the definition of the greek or hebrew words for faith you may not find that action is part of faith. However, James says that faith without works is dead. I am in no way saved by my works (I am saved by the works of Jesus the Christ), but if I do truly have faith it will and does produce action. I don’t have to do anything to achieve salvation, Christ did that for me, I can only submit or lay down my life for Him as He has laid His life down for me. When Christ became the man Jesus, He laid down His godliness and took on manliness. For me to become a son of God I lay down my manliness and take on His godliness. Obviously God does good works, and He does nothing apart from faith.

    Please do not read into that, I am not saying that I am God or whatever. Taking on godliness is part of the progression of salvation, read 2 Peter ch. 1.

    Anyway, I hope that speaks to you, or somebody. If not, let me know and I can try to better explain and could pull up some better scriptural references. Otherwise, be blessed in your knowledge of Christ Jesus. Have a wonderful day.

  2. 2 Rosie
    October 26, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    The other night I talked with my mormon roommate about our different faiths. The topic of goodworks did come up but I am struggling to understand their beliefs now that I live with them. I talked about doing good works out of love for God and your neighbors not good works to get to heaven but they never really answered my questions about climbing the ladder to their heavens. I wish I knew more.
    I have recently moved to Oregon and now live with three roommates, two of which are LDS. One night we had the missionary guys from our area come eat dinner with us and after dinner they gave us a lesson and gave me a book of mormon that says Another Testement of Jesus Christ on the cover. I was really rather confused about what they believe so after they left my roommates and started talking about our faiths.
    I told them I believe in none other than Jesus Christ, you cannot get to heaven with out him, and I believe in a triune God. We talked a little about baptism how they get baptied into the church and I believe we are baptized into Christ not a church. Also, communion was a topic because they don’t believe that it is the body and blood of Jesus and it can strengthen your faith. When I asked her what she believes I felt like she couldn’t say anything that made sense. She had to read about Joseph Smith from her quad and cried while she read how God came to him and told him all the churches on earth were wrong so he had to start his own. I don’t know much about mormonism even though I lived in Idaho for 3 years I tried to avoid the topic.

    If anyone had advice and sripture for me to read please tell me.

  3. October 27, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Before answering, Rosie, what exactly are you looking for? I’m not sure which issues with your Mormon friends you are having problems with.

  4. October 28, 2008 at 3:40 am

    Hi Rosie,

    The missionaries will be able to answer any questions. Also I believe it’s best to get information straight from the source. The church’s web site covering our basic beliefs can be found here:

    http://mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/

    There is also a site all about Jesus Christ here:

    http://www.jesuschrist.lds.org/SonOfGod/eng/

  5. 5 Stephanie
    October 28, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Rosie,

    I hope you are following this blog, because it is very helpful for Christians who are in your position. You have a great opportunity to witness the truth to your Mormon roommates. For starters, I would recommend that you find a copy of the book “Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons,” by Pastor Mark Cares. This book explains the Mormon “path to exaltation,” as well as the rest of their beliefs. It also gives a strong Biblical foundation to counter their beliefs. God’s Blessings! Stephanie

  6. 6 markcares
    October 28, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Rosie:
    A helpful website is http://www.truthinlovetomormons.com

  7. 7 Darrell
    October 28, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Rosie,

    My wife and I came out of the Mormon church this year and am now a Christian. The one warning I would give you in talking with your mormon roomates is to be very careful about the definitions of the words you use. Most of the words used in religious conversation with a mormon will mean ENTIRELY different things to a Christian.

    1) Salvation
    2) Grace (most mormons don’t know what this really means)
    3) Heaven
    4) Glorification
    5) Jesus Christ (they have a very different definition)

    etc, etc, etc.

    Do some research to understand what mormons are talking about and you will be better prepared. Without the knowledge of what they mean by these words as well as many others, you might be led to believe that they believe something very similar to what a Christian believes.

    Darrell

  8. 8 Brad
    October 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Rosie, be VERY careful WHO you talk to and what you allow your mind to believe. One place I’d start is in defining what YOU believe, and knowing WHY you believe it, what your basis is for it. Write out WHO you believe Christ is (His nature, his attributes, etc…), and then write out WHY you believe those things (i.e. Scripture verses, thought processes, etc…) You have to know these quite well, and should know them well, as they are a part of your belief system!

    Second, you’ll see that the Mormons (Seth and Reggie, so far) will always try to direct you to what they would consider the “source” for your questions. There are plenty of places to get accurate information, from a Christian (non-Mormon) perspective, than going to Mormon websites. I don’t have to go to Greece to study Greek, or to learn about their history, or see pictures of their land. There are numerous ways for me to do that here, without ever leaving my chair. The same is true for studying religions, but you do have to be extremely careful where you go, and make sure that the sources you are using are reliable. The Mormons will tell you that the Christian sources distort the truth, that they’re not accurate and anti-Mormon, and that you should rely on Mormon information to do your research. Why wouldn’t they tell you that? They don’t want you to look elsewhere to places that will say that Mormon beliefs are wrong.

    Rosie, there are people you can talk to who can help guide you to Mormon beliefs. Darrell is a great resource, as he said he and his wife have come from the Mormon church to Christianity, and are well aware of all their teachings (even ones the missionaries don’t know and can’t tell you about). You can contact Mark Cares and his website, as well, or just pose your questions on here.

    You will see many things, Rosie. You will see the Mormons saying we are misrepresenting what they believe, and you will see the Christians saying that isn’t true. It will be up to you to discern who is correct, and why. The Bible (and the Bible alone) is God’s Word to us, and holds all the answers we need.

    I will pray for you as you embark down this path. Stay strong, and hold to your Christian convictions.

  9. October 29, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Except a non-Mormon Christian website will usually be just as biased as a Mormon one Brad. Both parties are trying to prove that they are right and the other is wrong. You can expect objectivity from neither. Both are defending their turf.

    Ex-Mormons are not an objective resource either. In my experience your chances of getting an unbiased view of the LDS Church from an ex-member are just about as good as getting an unbiased dating profile from a guy’s ex-spouse. Sure, there will be lots of interesting, and probably even true information there. But it will be filtered through a lens of resentment and bitterness, and will often tend to be very one-sided. I rarely take the condemnations of an ex-spouse of his or her former mate all that seriously, and I also take the gripes of ex-Mormons with a rather large grain of salt.

    As for my alleged “diversion” Brad, my question was merely asking Rosie to clarify what she is trying to learn. Her post was not very clear at all.

    Rosie, there are no “objective” sources for the “truth” about Mormonism.

    I suggest you read widely.

  10. 10 Susan
    October 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Rosie,

    I don’t think that you need to be fearful of reading from Mormon sorces as long as you have a solid understanding of your own faith. The Holy Spirit is your guide in discerning the spirit behind the information. There are some Christian websites that are very helpful, but again, test the spirits. Some Christians have a deep love for Mormons and their intentions are pure. Others are more defensive and seem to be motivated by fear, not love.

    I found that my own faith grew and solidified as I had discussions with my Mormon friends and the missionaries….those conversations always led me to my knees and to the Bible. I agree with Seth about reading from a variety of sources, and I also agree that it is very important to understand the definitions behind the terms. I found it very helpful to read the online version of Gospel Principles on the official LDS website to get an overview on their beliefs.

  11. 11 markcares
    October 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Seth:
    If there are no objective sources of truth than how can you say any statement made for or against Mormonism are right or wrong or objective or not objective? What is your basis for making any kind of judgments about Mormonism or any other religion for that matter?

  12. November 1, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    You paint the picture out of a complete sense whole Mark. You take all the data, from all the sources. You take the data seriously, and then you give it your best shot.

    Same as everyone.

    It’s not like being a Christian gives you a Playstation “cheat code” to life.

  13. November 1, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    “It’s not like being a Christian gives you a Playstation “cheat code” to life.”

    Um…yeah it does!

  14. 14 Brad
    November 3, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Sure it does, Seth. And what Mark said stands – you can’t say “there are no objective sources for the truth about Mormonism”, which you said earlier, and then later claim other’s statements are wrong. You’ve contradicted yourself. But that’s Mormon logic for you.


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