Friday, July 17, 2020

What does the word mean, anyway?

Although the Greek word pistis, the word that most often stands behind our English translations of “faith” or “belief” in the New Testament, can and does frequently involve regarding something as true or real, akin to how we might say “I have faith that God exists” or “my beliefs are different from yours,” the word pistis (and related terms) has a much broader range of meaning. This range includes ideas that aren’t usually associated in our contemporary culture with belief or faith, such as reliability, confidence, assurance, fidelity, faithfulness, commitment, and pledged loyalty. The question is, then, when a person today says, “I am saved by my faith in Jesus,” what portion of the range of meaning of “faith” is understood to effect salvation? Are certain portions of the legitimate meaning of “faith” being unwittingly shaded out? In what capacity is Jesus being regarded as the object of “faith”? And what mental images surround the process of salvation?—Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 3 (emphasis original)

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