From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
2 a: belief and trust in and loyalty to God : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b: firm belief in something for which there is no proof: complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof:
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion:
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.:
5. a system of religious belief:
6. obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement,etc.:
7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath,allegiance, etc.:
Webster’s 1913 Dictionary
1.Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony.
2. The assent of the mind to the statement or proposition of another, on the ground of the manifest truth of what he utters; firm and earnest belief, on probable evidence of any kind, especially in regard to important moral truth.
3. (Judeo-Christian Theol.) The belief in the historic truthfulness of the Scripture narrative, and the supernatural origin of its teachings, sometimes called historical and speculative faith.
4. (Theol.) That which is believed on any subject, whether in science, politics, or religion;especially (Theol.), a system of religious belief of any kind; as, the Jewish or Mohammedan faith; the Christian faith; also, the creed or belief of a Christian society or church
6. Credibility or truth.
Above are three different dictionary definitions of faith. I have deliberately left out the examples given by each site. Dictionary.com is the most contemporary of dictionaries. As you can see, it introduces a definition of faith that includes the statements “belief without proof”. The 1913 Webster dictionary includes “belief based on authority and veracity, reliance on testimony.” A secondary definition includes “firm and earnest belief based on probable evidence of any kind.”
The Bible has much to say on faith – “without faith, it is impossible to please God,” “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” “the just shall live by faith.” In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is actually faithfulness – meaning persistent commitment. God is faithful – He keeps His promises. This has great importance – what God promises He will do, will come to pass. It cannot be stopped by anyone.
The problem I have with faith is when it is defined as a “belief without proof.” Many folks will state that those who require proof are without faith. When a scientist or a skeptic points out inconsistencies in a point of view, they are often castigated and pronounced heretics, instead of encouraged to investigate those inconsistencies and try to resolve them. There are many scriptures that invite us to test God – but those invitations also demand action. We test God (in a good way) by walking in the direction He is leading. When we put our faith in Christ, we walk towards Him and away from our selfishness – a life totally bent on pleasing our flesh. We rest in His accomplishments – His death, burial and resurrection – and trust that when we are buried with Him, we will also be raised with Him. The walk by faith is not always an easy one, but the testing and trials we go through strengthen our commitment and character in Him.