What is This Thing Called Faith

by Hugh Duffy, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.



The author promises to deal with the Christian Faith specifically. He also makes an important distinction between a notional faith and a real faith. A notional faith has to do with acceptance of doctrinal prepositions such as we find in the Christian Creed and in the church’s teachings. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself but it is not enough. A real faith is based on a personal responsive to the living word of the Gospel; it is a heartfelt faith because it is rooted in an encounter with Christ. In other words, it is a personal knowledge or the wisdom that comes from personal experience. There is always a need for a fresh approach to old truths, if Christians want to remain relevant in today’s world. The truths of Faith are ancient but they are forever new (the Confessions of St. Augustine Book 10)

This book is about fifty meditations, followed by reflections on the sayings of Jesus. These sayings, which I’ve chosen, are by no means exhaustive. They are intended to provide the reader with pertinent examples of what Jesus had to say about faith. The scriptural meditations in the book sometimes include Old Testament readings because Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and are intended to awaken the reader’s appreciation of the gift of faith. Since the Holy Spirit is given for the benefit of everyone (John 3:8) The reader is given the opportunity to share his/her experience of faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The opportunity to appropriate the message personally by each individual is offered in the reflections which follow each meditation.

Each meditation is headed by a verse of Scripture. It is recommended, before engaging in the reflections; that the readers become acquainted with the scriptural version in context in order to better understand the message. This would mean having a Bible available to look up and read the entire scripture passage. The questions posed in the reflections address the main points of each meditation. Again, these questions are not exhaustive but the Holy Spirit is our guide who brings us the fuller understanding of the Word. At the end of each reflection in the book, there is a prayer, chosen according to the message, to elicit one’s faith, This prayer is a valuable way of connecting with the Lord in the privacy of one’s heart. This is a wonderful gift for friends wanting to deepen their relationship with Christ.

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