Greg Boyd has a new book out called Benefit of the Doubt, which looks very good. I’ll resist the urge to buy it, as I would only have to add it to my already overly large reading pile and would probably get onto it some time in 2015. However, having read some reviews, and having already read and listened to quite a bit of Greg’s stuff on the interwebs and read one of his books, I can comfortably recommend it to anyone.

At his blog Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight has this to say by way of introduction to Boyd’s book:

Certainty-seekers need to hear what Greg Boyd offers in his book Benefit of the Doubt, where he defines what “faith” means. Faith, first, needs to be distinguished from what most mean by “belief.” Belief is a “mental conviction that something is true.” […] On the other hand, faith is “a commitment to trust and to be trustworthy in a relationship with another person”.

I think this is a crucial point many need to understand today. We have confused the meaning of “faith” with the meaning of “belief”, and this has caused untold damage. In fact, I would say the word “faith” has been ruined for many modern western believers, precisely because we so often interpret it as being synonymous with belief.

Faith is not about facts. There are some facts we must believe in order to be saved – specifically, that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). But having faith in God is not the same as believing these facts.

Many Christians like to point out that Christianity is about relationship, not religion. To which I say, amen. It’s all about getting to know God and living in dynamic relationship to Him. But in any relationship, there comes a point where, if that relationship is to grow and deepen, one person says to the other “Trust me”, and the other person has a decision to make. Do I trust this person? Will they keep their word? This is the point at which we have to decide whether we are prepared to take the risk of trusting someone without knowing whether they are trustworthy. And the only way to find out whether they’re trustworthy is to take the risk of trusting them.

We often call this kind of situation a “leap of faith”, for good reason. And that’s what faith is: trusting someone when your own experience has not yet proved beyond doubt that they will deliver on what they’ve promised. I find it much more useful to think of faith in God as this kind of risky trust, rather than as mental assent to a set of facts. And the good thing is, it’s not really risky at all, because God is absolutely faithful to His promises. There’s never been one on which He’s failed to deliver, and that’s never going to change.