What is faith?
What is Christian faith? I don’t mean “what is ‘the Christian faith’?” I mean, when I Christian has faith in Christ, what does ‘faith’ connote? Many Christians carry a meaning of the word faith around in their heads that leaves them with no actual ground to stand on for living the good life hinted at in Deuteronomy 30, the Sermon on the Mount, Micah 6:8, and Romans 12-15.
Dallas Willard on the most basic form of Christian Faith
I think that Dallas Willard has a very import insight into this specific issue:
“Jesus’ disciples are those who have chosen to be with him to learn to be like him. All they have necessarily realized at the outset of their apprenticeship to him is, Jesus is right. He is the greatest and best. Of this, they are sure.” Willard, Dallas (2009-02-06). The Divine Conspiracy (p. 318). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
This is a good way to see things. Christian faith is a particular stance in life vis-à-vis Jesus as he appears in the four gospels and in the preaching of the earliest church. This faith is, of course, a seed that grows up and discovers more explicit answers to hard questions but it must start with the simple admission and recognition that Jesus really is a wonderful, competent, reliable to guide human life, really is clever enough to save you from sin, and really does know what God and his kingdom are like.
Gary Black, in his book The theology of Dallas Willard, elaborates upon Willard’s brief description of Christian faith in Jesus:
“Willard asserts that confidence in Jesus should proceed from trusting him as a competent, verifiable master and guide into the vagaries of all human existence and endeavor. This would include placing confidence in Jesus’ own claims regarding his divinity and his resurrection. But belief in only these two propositional doctrines is not, in Willard’s view, positioning confidence in Jesus as the holistic Christ offering a total whole life soteriology proclaimed in Scripture.” Black Jr., Gary (2013-08-06). The Theology of Dallas Willard: Discovering Protoevangelical Faith (p. 123). Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Faith in Christ is not simply right ideas about Jesus. Faith in Christ is a particular way of respecting Jesus as a person in relationship to yourself.