Counsel of Chalcedon
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Cross-Examination: What Does It Mean to Believe?

Each month the "Cross-Examination" column presents a summary statement of a Reformed and Reconstructionist conviction in theology or ethics, and then offers brief answers to common questions, objections or confusions which people have about that belief. Send issues or questions you would like addressed by Dr. Bahnsen to the editor.

Question: What does it mean "to believe" or have "faith"? Some writers make it sound like faith goes beyond assenting to the truth and involves personal trust. Other writers react against that idea and make believing sound completely intellectualistic. How should we as Christians view "believing" the Bible or having "faith" in Jesus?

Answer: To help us through the many conceptual tangles that are possible when it comes to the nature of faith (belief, believing), let me begin first by offering a philosophical analysis - somewhat dry and technical, but still prerequisite to clarity. Then secondly we can turn to examine the Biblical use of the terms for believing or faith. Finally we can note some practical applications to our theology and apologetics.