What is faith? It seems that something so primal and primary should be easy to define, but there are several definitions. The first definition in the dictionary says faith is, “confidence or trust in a person or thing.” People also like to rely on the Bible quote, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11: 1). Generally, it seems that confidence, trust, faith, and belief are all interchangeable. But I’m no closer to understanding what it is. Is it a state of being, an emotion, an action? Is it something I can choose or control?
Sola Fide is one of the big tenets of Protestantism, that faith alone can save. But is faith ever alone? It doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it is influenced, cultured, lived. James 2:14-26 says that faith without works is like a body without spirit. One doesn’t produce the other, rather, they should be so intertwined that is wrong to separate them.
The catechism says, "Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself" and that "service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation" (CCC 1814, 1816). Again, faith and belief seem interchangeable. Which takes me back to the question, can one choose to believe. Can I choose faith?