If you decide to ask about how faith is different from religion, then you’ll encounter a large variety of conflicting answers. This is because each person has their own notion of what the terms faith and religion mean.
And many of these terms contradict one another, so they can’t be accepted simultaneously. And even the ones which don’t tend to be rather shallow and vague. So they’re not really helpful.
The purpose of this post is to provide a complete and clear answer tot he question.
Faith is a trust which one places in something when the lack complete knowledge of it. Religion is the system of beliefs and practices which arises from one’s faith in a thing. We have faith in God when we trust him without complete knowledge of His workings.
Now, God exists in such a way so that we cannot directly see, hear, or measure Him. So humans will always possess uncertainty where God is concerned. This is why faith must be kept in order for belief in God to remain.
What Faith Is and Why It Matters
When you marry someone, you don’t know if that marriage will last, but you accept the risk anyway.
And when you leave your house, you don’t know if you’ll be safe outside, but you do so anyway.
When you eat the food given to you by a stranger at a restaurant, you don’t know if the food is safe to eat, but you do so anyway.
People take all kinds of risks every day as they go about their daily lives. Now, they could choose not to take these risks. Yet if they chose to forego them, then their lives would become so limited and empty that they could hardly be said to be worth living.
And most people could not live without taking these risks.
So in order to live and fill your life with things that make it worth living, you must be willing to act even when your knowledge is limited. This requires one to possess something which will motivate them to do so.
This something is faith, and people who live without is are forever constrained by their limited knowledge.
What It Means to Have Faith in God -(Is faith different from religion?)
Now, what does it mean to have faith in God?
Well, for a Christian, God is both existence and the capacity to exist. God tells this to Moses on Mt. Sinai when he gives his name as, “I am that I am.”
So to place faith in God is to place faith in existence and the ability to exist. This requires the Christian to believe that continued existence is good and that the ability to foment continued existence is good as well.
A certain ethic then arises from one’s acceptance of these precepts.
For example, if you believe that existence is good, then you will try to extend your life span. This will lead you to avoid risky behaviors such as binge-eating and smoking. It will also lead you to condemn certain actions such as murder, suicide, and abortion.
Meanwhile, the desire to continue and enhance existence will cause the Christian to espouse certain virtues. These include charity, which reduces the resentment of others and allows one to preserve himself; chastity, which helps one avoid STD’s and the home wrecking effects of promiscuity; and bravery, which allows a person to confront dangers before they destroy oneself.
So faith in God, specifically the God of Abraham, is to have faith in existence, and this leads to the condemnation of certain destructive behaviors and the encouragement of life-giving ones.
The Proper Way to Define Religion
Religion is a system of ideas and practices which arise from one’s faith in something, its purpose to develop and maintain proper worship, and the purpose of worship is to bring oneself closer to god.
Religion consists of two parts: theology and worship.
Theology – Religion in the Head
Theology is a type of science. Its source material is divine revelation and those teachings which arise from it. The purpose of theology is develop the knowledge base which is needed to practice proper worship. The result of a full and true theology is the creation of a perfect system of worship which does not need to change.
Worship – Religion with the Body
Worship is the way that you act out your religion. It arises from the knowledge gained by theology. Its purpose is to bring the worshipper closer to their god. A person engaged in worship is moving closer to something, and you can usually observe what their god is by recognizing what they are moving closer to.
How Do Faith and Religion Interact?
Faith is a thing which a person may or may not have. It allows them to trust something despite their limited knowledge. When they place their faith in that thing, then that thing is their god.
After a person has placed their faith somewhere, they begin trying to move toward it. This requires them to develop a religion which will permit them to do so. This religion will contain both an intellectual and a motive component.
The intellectual part of the religion is its theology.
The motive part of the religion is its worship.
Here’s an example:
A starving man may desire food more than anything else. He trusts in food because he is starving, and he places his faith in it because he wants to end his suffering. So he thinks about how to obtain food, and then he acts in such a way so that he moves closer toward it.
In this case, the god of the starving man is food, his theology is his notion of how to obtain it, and his worship consists of those actions which arise thereby.
Where Should We Place Our Faith? -(Is faith different from religion?)
We should place our faith in the God of Abraham. This is because we do not have any better options.
Why is this the case?
Consider the following:
You exist. You exist today, you existed yesterday, you will continue to exist tomorrow, and you will continue to exist for some time into the future.
While you exist, you will have many different options available to you concerning the proper way to live your life. Of these, you should choose to make the choices which allow your life to extend and to improve for as long as possible.
If you do not extend your life, then you will die sooner; and if you fail to gather those qualities which make life worth living, then this elongation will be a hell. You don’t want to die, but you also don’t want to live a long and miserable life.
So you should adopt a certain lifestyle if you want to live a long life that is worth living. But in order to do so, you need to possess a certain ethic.
Now, how do you acquire this ethic?
Well, first let me tell you how you will not acquire it.
You will not develop it yourself. You can’t. You’re too dumb, you’re too dishonest, you’re too impatient, and you won’t live for long enough to develop it.
And even if you could develop the ethic needed for life, the process would take so long that it would not benefit you until you had reached your 80’s.
No, you will not develop the ideal ethic yourself.
You don’t need to.
This is because Judaism and Christianity exist, and both the Jews and the Christians have been developing this ethic for thousands of years. Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Judaism, is the religion which teaches the ethic that one needs in order to live a long life worth living.
Islam is often marketed as an Abrahamic religion, and people may claim that Islam also teaches show a person may live a long life that is worth living. They are mistaken, and the short lifespans of people who live within the Middle East are millions of proofs that the claim is false.
The purpose of Islam is not to exist or to enhance existence. Instead, its purpose is to spread Islam. This is because the religion contains an imperative to take over the world in the name of Islam, and the imperative overrules nearly everything else in the faith.
The imperative appears in the 29th verse of the Quran’s ninth surah, and the fact that it appears in this Surah means that nothing else overrules it.
“Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”
So here’s a standing order in the Quran for the Muslims to war against the Jews and Christians until these two groups have been conquered and begin paying the religious tribute (Jizyah) to the Muslims.