Is The Abstract On A Separate Page For Chicago Style Faith Is An Abstract Noun

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Faith Is An Abstract Noun

Faith might be the wrong word, both inside and outside the church. Inside, when asked what church a person belongs to, we often hear: “What is your faith?”. when it is meant: “From what church or par you?” Outside we hear, “I don’t believe in government—in public education—in marriage.” when it is meant: “I have not confidence in government, etc.” Misuse outside the church is easily corrected by inserting the correct word. However, inside the church, misuse – since faith is the fundamental means by which we come to God – can indicate a serious problem. Vigilance comes more easily with a better understanding of the English language and through a deeper study of God’s Word and His inspired writers in general.

The word faith in English grammar is a noun. Traditionally, nouns are defined as the names of persons, places or things. Nouns also have different forms. There are proper nouns that are capitalized and common nouns that are not. Distinguish concrete and abstract nouns. Concrete nouns indicate something tangible that can be seen, heard, touched, etc.: shoes, soup, grass, teacher. On the other hand, abstract nouns denote a quality, state, action or state of being that cannot be directly perceived, that is, seen, heard, touched: faith, love, courage, honor.

Concrete, I understand. For example, one look at my old garden shoes tells me almost everything there is to know about them: dirty, whitish sneakers with cracked soles; torn laces, carelessly tied, stained with paint, grass and who remembers what. I can see them, touch them, smell them, and to prove my point, I could even taste them. On the other hand, the abstract is not easy for me to understand. It’s fuzzy, out of focus, out of reach, off site around the corner. A simple look will not be enough. In order to reach a correct understanding of the faith, I must be taught.

Fortunately, I can be taught by my parents, teachers at church, and many wonderful writers on church history. Four examples: (1) The author of Hebrews, a book of the Bible, gave a brief definition of faith in chapter 11, verse 1: “And faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…” (KJV) (2) The Apostles’ Creed expanded the definition and provided the foundations of saving faith. (3) The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563, with its 129 questions and answers, provided one of the most expansive definitions of the church. (4) After 450 years, Heidelberg demanded a decipherment, and one of the best books available is that of Dr. G. I. Williamson, Heidelberg Catechism, study guide.

After all, perhaps faith is best understood not by its definition, but rather by its purpose. An excellent example found as a theological note in Reformation Study Bible under the title Faith and Works reads: “Faith is the means or instrument by which a man is saved. Christians are justified before God by faith, and by faith they live their lives and maintain their hope…secured in Jesus Christ. .. is caused by the Gospel, because the Gospel is made clear through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. Christian faith is a personal act involving the mind, heart, and will, . . . directed to a personal God, not to an idol or idea.”

My old sneakers deserve only a glance, but an abstract noun faith deserves a deep study of the Bible plus a serious look at the work of inspired writers in general. – What faith do I have? May my answer always be: “The faith set forth in the Apostles’ Creed; the means by which I am saved; the means by which I stand before God in the righteousness of Christ; the means by which I obtain eternal life.”

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