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Faith and Unbelief

‘Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them’ (John 12:39-40). On this account they were not able to believe is put instead of ‘they were not willing to believe.’ Do not marvel…He does not say that the doing of virtue is impossible to them, but that because they will not, on this account they cannot.” (St. John Chrysostom)

“ “Won’t” or “will not” eventually leads to “can’t” and “cannot.” That’s what Christ and the Scriptures repeatedly warn about when it comes to a hardened heart. The willful choice to not believe day after day can eventually lead to a heart that cannot believe even when presented with solid evidence. But faith is not a matter of evidence. If it was, then any rational person who does a deep dive investigation of the historical evidence of Christ and Christianity would be forced to come to a least a grudging conclusion that it “seems” true. Faith is a matter of choosing to believe.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“Many people who struggle with their faith imagine that things would be different if only God would give them more evidence. I have been told by atheists more than once that their lack of belief is God’s fault. “If God wants us to believe in him,” they think, “then He should have made things more obvious.” However, God is a good God and does not give us what is damaging to the spiritual life. The kind of knowledge being demanded (objective) is of no use, and would indeed be spiritually harmful if it were given.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Christ makes it very clear that the path to salvation is both narrow and a path of choice, not coercion, but one has to make the choice to follow. Today’s climate of political correctness says the door is open to everyone, no matter what they choose to believe or do in life. This sentiment is completely unsupported by Scripture.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

“When all is said and done, at the bottom line faith is a function of will—you must want to believe. The person who does not wish to—even if he sees God, he will not believe.” (Elder Pavlos)

“…Christ deliberately permits the windstorm to arise while He is sleeping in order to perfect the disciples' faith and rebuke their weaknesses, so they would eventually be unshaken by life's temptations. Here their faith is still mixed with unbelief. They showed faith when they came to Him, but unbelief when they said, “We are perishing.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 8:22-25)

“Unbelief is one thing. Most of us have some degree of it. But, like the Disciples were, we are works in progress and hopefully our spiritual growth is on the right trajectory. Rigid unbelief is another thing. It creates an impenetrable wall between us and God that can only come down by our choice to believe.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“I do not think of unbelief as a result of reason or philosophical principle. I have spent too many years observing my own heart and listening to the thoughts of others to accept such a simplistic notion of how we behave as human beings. One person professes faith on the ground of “reasonable” arguments, while another, on similar grounds, professes unbelief. The fault is not in the reasoning. Reasoning is, in fact, something we largely do “after the fact.” Indeed, this psychological reality has itself been the subject of study and has been shown to be largely true. Reason is one of the sounds we make after the fact of the heart. It is a symptom of something else and we do one another a deep injustice when we reduce faith and unbelief to something they are not.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“I believe! Help my unbelief!” is one of the most powerful statements in the Bible, because it is one of the most honest…I believe, but I need God’s reassurance in those moments when my faith is tested, when I’m scratching my head wondering…There isn’t anyone who hasn’t had moments of doubt, even on the same day as their moments of faith.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

"The act of the will of faith is not a single moment of final decision: it is a permanent indefinitely repeated act/state which must go on - so we pray for 'final perseverance'. The temptation to unbelief (which really means rejection of our Lord and His claims) is always there within us." (J.R.R. Tolkien)

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