believe

I believe in Jesus.
I believe in God.

I believe in the Tooth Fairy.
I believe in Santa Claus.
I believe in the Easter Bunny.

I believe that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the Sun in an elliptical orbit; the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes.

In our post-Christian culture, where anything that isn’t on YouTube is disputed whether it was historical, and even what is there is open to debate, the term “believe in” has been reduced to “actually happened historically like this.” Hence, if we want to convey what the Christian, biblical understanding is of “believe in,” let’s stop using the words “believe in.”

When, in Christianity and in the Bible, we use the word “believe,” it is not to mean “holding the opinion that a certain object exists objectively.”

πιστεύω, the verb, means: I believe, have faith in, trust in. The passive means: I am entrusted with. It derives from πείθω I persuade, I have confidence, I urge. πίστις, the noun, means faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness.

Even the etymology of the English word, “believe” derives through Proto-Germanic, hold dear, love, back to Proto-Indo-European roots for to care, desire, love.

Belief used to mean “trust in God,” while faith meant “loyalty to a person based on promise or duty” (a sense preserved in keep one’s faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of Latin fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to “mental acceptance of something as true,” from the religious use in the sense of “things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine” (a sense attested from early 13c.).

So… belief is not a mental acceptance of one more invisible, unverifiable object in the universe (ie. God) than provable by Science. It is not getting over a certain percentage of boxes ticked that you can agree with in the Creed. It is actually about trust, love, entrust, and have confidence…

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll

Discuss…

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