What is Faith?

What is Faith?

Popular ideas about faith vary widely and can be misleading. Many religious people think faith is a mystical gift from God that enables us to understand and relate to Him. The Oxford English Dictionary defines faith as “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof”. Others may be more sceptical and add the word “blind”, their view being that faith lacks reason or evidence. So, what is faith? Bible-based Faith The Bible is the key source of knowledge about God. Therefore, faith in God is best considered by consulting the Bible itself. In the rest of this article, this ‘Bible faith’ is what we are talking about. True faith in God really does involve substance and evidence. The Bible is not an indiscriminate collection of writings. Although it was written down over at least 1,500 years by many writers from different countries and

Become Someone New

Become Someone New

There is very strong evidence for believing in a God who cares about the world He has created. What if, after looking at all this evidence, we are convinced about the truth of the gospel message? What then? From Caterpillars to Butterflies Some years ago, our eldest daughter was given a butterfly kit for her birthday. The transformation that a caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly is truly remarkable. Caterpillars are beautiful creatures in their own way, but compared to the beauty, elegance and grace of a butterfly, they pale into insignificance! The apostle Paul uses this analogy to describe believers in Jesus: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). The New Testament was originally written in Greek and the word transformed here in

I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

I think I’m a rational person, as do most people. But I’m telling you that I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Am I a credulous and gullible believer in fairy tales? Have I been touched by a supernatural experience which revealed to me something hidden from everyone else? I’m neither of those things, and I’d like to share the extraordinary evidence available to support such a belief. When I say, “I believe”, what I mean is that I have considered a body of evidence and concluded that one conclusion provides the best explanation. It’s not blind faith. Considering the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is a little like examining the scene of a crime. We can sift through the objects in the room, observe what the suspects did after the crime was committed, take statements from witnesses and try to piece together what happened. But we can never

We All Want to Belong

We All Want to Belong

As human beings we are driven by certain basic needs. Our moment-by-moment decisions are often driven by sub-conscious ‘programming’ to meet our physiological and psychological needs. The ‘need to belong’ is one of these, second only to our most fundamental requirements for food and physical safety. The psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a famous paper in 1943 on “A Theory of Human Motivation”. In it, he described a hierarchy of human needs, a sort of pyramid with the most basic at the base and those things that lead to greater fulfilment at the pinnacle. At the very bottom are our needs for food, water, warmth and rest; the next level is our physical security and safety. Maslow’s theory is that we will seek to fulfil our needs in order from bottom to top. Based on this, once we have physical sustenance and safety, the very next urge which will drive our

Does Belief in God Make Sense?

Does Belief in God Make Sense?

IN this short piece, we are going to think about one of the arguments for the existence of God. The argument is about the fine tuning of the universe and relies on the work of experts found in physics departments or observatories. We should be very clear: this argument doesn’t prove that God exists, or that the God in question is the God of Christianity. What this argument does however, and it does it very well, is to make us think rationally about why the universe is the way it is – and what may have caused it to be so. We’ll briefly think about the evidence, draw some conclusions, and then finish with a question. The Evidence Physicists have observed that the laws and forces of nature (such as gravity), the constants of physics (such as the speed of light), and the initial conditions of the universe are finely

By the River

By the River

The front cover picture shows an idyllic scene, the river Anker as it flows through Nuneaton in Warwickshire, UK. Rivers are a place of life, where plants grow, fish swim and animals come to drink and feed. It makes them a pleasant place to pass the time and meditate. For the Jews in exile some 600 years before Jesus, this meditation was a painful one: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1–4). Popularised History You may know this from the popular song from the 1970s, but it

Life, death and truth

Life, death and truth

ROBERT FERRAR is someone whose name most of us will not recognise. Yet in the 16th Century he was part of a movement eager to bring the Bible to everyone in their own language. He even died because of this ambition. Looking for Truth While he was studying at Cambridge, Ferrar was one of many students who were excited by the teachings of people like Martin Luther, Thomas Cranmer and Hugh Latimer. These men were driving the Reformation, questioning the authority and the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Bible was becoming more widely available and many scholars were publishing commentaries and translations. Before long, thinking people realised how far the Church’s teaching was removed from what they read in the Bible. This further damaged and enraged the Church. A Turbulent Life Ferrar was excommunicated by the Church in the time of Henry VIII but when, in 1547, the Protestant

Creating a legacy

Creating a legacy

As human beings, we know that we are mortal, and one day will die. This is why so many people are concerned with the legacy they leave. That legacy may be money or possessions, which can be left for the benefit of surviving family members, to improve their circumstances. Many charities and good causes depend very much on legacies from their supporters. You can see appeals from many organisations, asking us to leave them money if we can. For many, the legacy they care about is more about leaving an imprint on history. When an artist or a musician dies, then their body of work is what they are remembered by. On a more spiritual note, many quotations remind us how important it is to leave the world a better place than we found it – perhaps by small acts of kindness. This is a very decent attitude. Pride There