Author Tim Barnett
Published on 02/19/2018
Christian Living

Is Faith A Feeling?

Tim explains that although faith and feelings might be related, they’re actually two different things.


Is faith a feeling? Well faith properly understood is not a feeling. Faith on my view is active trust based on evidence. Now faith can affect how we’re feeling. For example, my trust in my wife can affect feelings of happiness and thankfulness and hypothetically if my wife did something to cause mistrust, it might generate feelings of sadness and betrayal. So faith and feelings are related, but they’re two different things. Faith informs our feelings.

I think I know where this question is coming from, though. You see, some people base their faith on feelings. At least, that’s the way it appears. It makes them feel good so to them, it must be true and worthy of trust. I think this is really dangerous. Feelings are fickle. They change from day to day or hour to hour. If feeling good makes something true, then what happens when you feel bad? Does then it become false?

I like the way Ben Shapiro puts it. He says, “facts don’t care about you’re feelings,” and he’s right. Think about a young boy who’s mad at his father, so he climbs into bed, pulls the covers over his head, and says, “I don’t like you, so you don’t exist anymore.” His feelings don’t change reality. If feelings don’t inform faith, then what does? Well biblical faith is informed by evidence. Jesus said, “Even though you don’t believe me, believe the works.” What works was He talking about? The blind were seeing. The lame were walking. The deaf were hearing. The dead were rising. He’s saying believe based on the objective evidence.

Emotions can be unreliable guides to truth, but evidence doesn’t lie. So feelings follow faith, and faith follows facts. For instance, my wife tells me daily that she loves me and does all kinds of things to show me. Those are the facts. These facts and others form the basis of my faith in her. it’s out of that faith that flows feelings of joy and love and safety. There are facts about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that inform the basis of my faith in Christ. And out of that faith comes feelings of gratitude, humility, joy, and hope.