Faith, Hope and Doubt

For many religious people there is a problem of doubting various creedal statements contained in their religions. Often propositional beliefs are looked upon as a necessary, though not sufficient, condition, for salvation. This causes great anxiety in doubters and raises the question of the importance of belief in religion and in life in general. It is a question that has been neglected in philosophy of religion and Christian theology. In this paper I shall explore the question of the importance of belief as a religious attitude and suggest that there is at least one other attitude which may be adequate for religious faith even in the absence of belief, that attitude being hope. I shall develop a concept of faith as hope as an alternative to the usual notion that makes prepositional belief that God exists a necessary condition for faith, as Plantinga implies in the quotation above. For simplicity’s sake I shall concentrate on the most important proposition in Western religious creeds, that which states that God exists (defined broadly as a benevolent, supreme Being, who is responsible for the creation of the universe), but the analysis could be applied mutatis mutandis to many other important propositions in religion (e.g., the Incarnation and the doctrine of the Trinity)
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