Faith – Concept, characteristics, Christianity and Buddhism

We explain what faith is, in what areas it exists, its importance and characteristics. Also, what are the Christian faith and the Buddhist faith.

Faith is sustained without the need for supporting evidence.

What is the faith?

When we speak of faith, we normally refer to a form of belief or trust in a person, thing, deity, doctrine, or explanation, which is sustained without any need for evidence in its favor. That is, we have faith in what we choose to believe above the possibility (or impossibility) of proving its existence.

The word faith comes from Latin fides, that is, “loyalty” or “trust”, and it was the name that received in Roman mythology the goddess of trust, daughter of Saturn and Virtus. In the temple of the goddess the state treaties of the Roman Senate with foreign nations were kept, so that the goddess would ensure their mutual respect and fulfillment.

Therefore, the main meaning of the term today is linked to religious belief, although this is not so much a heritage from Roman mythology, as from Christian doctrine, which for centuries established faith in God, that is, the blind belief in God, without question and without doubt, as the maximum value of a good Christian .

This is a trait shared by all monotheisms: exclusive loyalty to their God, the only one, the true one. That is why religious wars have been so common throughout history.

The concept of faith, however, applies to worldly matters as well, as a rough synonym for trust. We can have faith in someone, when we blindly trust him, or his abilities to solve a problem or achieve success in a specific matter.

For example, we can have faith in our doctor or in the medicines that he prescribes us, or even in the explanations that science gives us regarding reality. However, in this case, scientific thought does not ask us at any time to grant it our faith, but rather provides us with empirical and corroborable demonstrations of its hypotheses. That is to say, it offers us explanations and proofs, instead of asking us to simply believe it.

At the same time, the word faith It is used to name the set of beliefs that make up the doctrine of a religion (the Catholic faith, the Muslim faith, etc.), and to certain documents that serve as support, that is, that support – paradoxically – our faith in what they contain (baptism certificate, life certificate, single status, etc. ).

In some countries, there is even talk of “attest to something“To say that one believes in it, or that he has evidence of it or that he is convinced of it, thus serving as a witness, guarantor or guarantor.

Characteristics of faith

faith characteristics
Religious faith does not necessarily prevent trusting science.

In general, the concept of faith is characterized by:

  • Involves belief or blind trust, without doubts, without requiring tests, demonstrations or verifications.
  • It is a concept far from skepticism and, at times, also far from reason, when what one has faith in is not questioned, but clings to it for subjective reasons.
  • There is no single model of faithNor is faith incompatible with other value systems, such as the scientific one. For example, it is not a requirement to lack religious faith to be able to do science, but it is a requirement not to resort to faith instead of using the scientific method. In the contemporary world, religious faith is an intimate, personal affair.
  • Sometimes can be synonymous with “hope”, as in the case of believers who, in a situation of need or danger, cling to the conviction that God will provide them with salvation.

Importance of faith

Faith can become important in different aspects of everyday life. For the parishioners of some religion, is part of the fundamental beliefs that organize your experience of reality, especially in the moral and existential aspects. That is why losing faith can lead to a period of suffering and deep questioning of the meaning of life.

At the same time, faith in a cosmic order and a guardian entity can give people more confidence in getting things done and a certain sense of well-being and protection.

On the other hand, faith can be an important component in certain medical treatments, to the extent that the general mood and predisposition of the patient have proven psychosomatic effects on the functioning of the body.

For example, emotionally depressed people have less active defenses and respond more poorly to treatments than do people of stable mood. In that sense, faith (religious or not) can help treatment.

Christian faith

According to Christian doctrine, faith is a theological virtue, that is, one of the habits that God himself instills in the mind of human beings to guide them on the right path. That is, the Christian faith is not passive, but organizes life morally and ethically, according to the ideals and teachings of its prophet, Jesus of Nazareth (c. 4 BC – AD 33).

Christian doctrine inherits the Old Testament concept of faith, which is that of the Abrahamic tradition of the ancient Jewish prophets. In that sense, consists of the belief that God promised mankind a savior, a messiah who would come to lead them back to paradise lost, separating the just from the unjust, the faithful from the unfaithful.

However, the Christian New Testament proposes that Jesus Christ renewed the covenant between God and humanity, sacrificing himself for it, but that in the future he will return, to undertake the judgment of souls and grant punishment (hell) or redemption (paradise).

The Christian faith, in principle, is understood as a voluntary act and that cannot be imposed on anyone, since it is in the internal forum of each person where it occurs. This is how Saint Augustine (354-430) states it: “credere non potest nisi volens”(“ You can’t believe if you don’t want to ”).

That is why Jesus Christ, according to tradition, never forced anyone to follow him, which instead the Catholic Church did during centuries of the Inquisition and holy wars against other equally intolerant monotheisms, such as Islam.

Buddhist faith

buddhist faith
Buddhism only demands faith in the method taught by the Buddha.

Unlike Christianity and its brother monotheisms, Buddhist tradition does not require blind and absolute faith from its followers, possibly because Gautama Buddha is not perceived as a deity, nor as a prophet, but as the discoverer of a method for personal enlightenment (bodhi).

In this way, Buddhism demands faith in the method, that is, in the spiritual teachings (dharma) and in the community of followers (sangha) of Buddha, who plays a role as teacher, as a guide towards awakening consciousness.

The particular faith of Buddhism, thus, does not propose blind adherence to a code, but rather invites his followers to experience and investigate the teachings in a personal way, based on what has been learned and accepted. Texts like the Kalama sutrain fact, they promote in their followers an attitude, rather, anti-authoritarian.