Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Philip Browning HelselEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_228

Faith, fidesin Latin and pistisin Greek, can be understood within a spectrum ranging from the content of a particular set of beliefs to the act of trust, usually in a particular community, doctrine, or Deity. In fundamentalist religions, the understanding of faith leans toward an emphasis on the content of belief, especially one’s assent to a certain set of beliefs. In these contexts, faith has a noetic quality and is fixed within boundaries to define what is inside or outside its scope. To assent to the appropriate propositions of religion means to have faith, and to be outside these limits is to be unfaithful (or an “infidel,” a term which derives from the Latin root of fides).

On the other side of the spectrum, faith is simply characterized as synonymous with trust, an attitude of believing, and thus refers more to the act of trusting than to the specific content of one’s beliefs. Within this pragmatic emphasis, the psychological effects of comfort and release from anxiety and...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pastoral Care and CounselingBoston College School of Theology and MinistryChestnut HillUSA