I guess not many people were reading this blog last week. At least my old friend Chris responded... (where were the rest of you? I know of at least three other regular lurkers, why didn't you comment?)
Chris said this of faith:
'My short definition would be: "dependent trust".'
He then went on to give a longer illustration relating to abseiling:
'It occurred to me that when you are stood at the bottom of the rock face looking up, you can have absolute confidence that the rope holding the [abseiler] above will hold. There is no question in your mind that he will fall. But it is not until it is your turn to take the rope and lean back over the cliff edge that your confidence becomes faith.'
This is pretty much my understanding of faith too, its basically trust in action.
However, it is clear to me that most outside observers of Christianity (and, indeed, other religions) view faith as being the mechanism by which somebody can believe the unbelievable.
Obviously I can't speak for all people everywhere with faith, but my faith in God is more-or-less my belief that God will behave in the future in the same ways that he has behaved in the past. If he promised something and person X (in the past) received the outcome of that promise then I have faith that, in similar circumstances, person Y (in the future) will receive the same outcome. I have faith that if he has answered a certain kind of prayer in a certain kind of way in the past that he will answer the same sort of prayer in the same sort of way in the future.
My faith relates entirely to what God will do.
I can't approach faith as a way of 'rubber stamping' a given statement. The "God said it. I believe it. That settles it." way of thinking kind of annoys me. For a start, how can we be sure that God said it, whatever it was? I don't have faith that the set of compiled documents that we call the bible is the infallible word of God, as I've explained in this blog. So, for a given 'it', I need to question if God said it at all, before I can believe it. And as for settling it, well, there are some apparent contradictions and some things that God said which were only relating to specific circumstances, so no, that wouldn't even settle it...
The point in all this is to defend faith. Not blind faith - that is no faith at all in my opinion. But it is possible and justifiable to have a reasoned and reasonable faith in God and to live by it.