Markan Faith

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 81 (1-2):31-60 (2017)
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According to many accounts of faith—where faith is thought of as something psychological, e.g., an attitude, state, or trait—one cannot have faith without belief of the relevant propositions. According to other accounts of faith, one can have faith without belief of the relevant propositions. Call the first sort of account doxasticism since it insists that faith requires belief; call the second nondoxasticism since it allows faith without belief. The New Testament may seem to favor doxasticism over nondoxasticism. For it may seem that, according to the NT authors, one can have faith in God, as providential, or faith that Jesus is the Messiah, or be a person of Christian faith, and the like only if one believes the relevant propositions. In this essay, I propose to assess this tension, as it pertains to the Gospel of Mark. The upshot of my assessment is that, while it may well appear that, according to Mark, one can have faith only if one believes the relevant propositions, appearances are deceiving. Mark said no such thing. Rather, what Mark said—by way of story—about faith fits nondoxasticism at least as well as doxasticism, arguably better. More importantly, the account of faith that emerges from Mark is that faith consists in resilience in the face of challenges to living in light of the overall positive stance to the object of faith, where that stance consists in certain conative, cognitive, and behavioral-dispositional elements.

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Daniel Howard-Snyder
Western Washington University


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