John Locke on Faith

Cody Libolt
Jul 15, 2014 · 2 min read
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What does faith mean?

In the Christian context, faith means trusting that God’s promises are true. Faith is like trust. But it must be trust in action, in the face of difficulty.

Faith comes at the conclusion of a reasoning process–not as the presupposition to it.

Today I happened upon some similar thoughts by John Locke. He holds that faith and reason are not in conflict. In Chapter 16 of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke says faith is assent to God’s spoken words. But we use reason to determine if it was indeed God who spoke. And we use reason to interpret and understand the message.

Locke says, “…faith is a settled and sure principle of assent and assurance, and leaves no manner of room for doubt or hesitation. Only we must be sure that it be a divine revelation, and that we understand it right: else we shall expose ourselves to all the extravagancy of enthusiasm, and all the error of wrong principles, if we have faith and assurance in what is not divine revelation. And therefore, in those cases, our assent can be rationally no higher than the evidence of its being a revelation…”

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