Thought for the Day: What does having faith mean?

March 2, 2023

Fr Philip Blackledge asked the question ‘What does having faith mean?’ as he gave Thought For The Day on BBC Radio Scotland this week.

The issue of whether someone can be a politician and have faith has been the subject of intense debate since the candidates for the leadership of the SNP were announced.

“Faith is a small word that carries a lot of meanings,” said the Rector of Holy Trinity Melrose. “We talk about ‘people of faith’, meaning religious people; ‘having faith’, meaning trusting people. We talk about being faithful or unfaithful to our partner or spouse. So what is faith?

“As a priest, and someone who is often described as a person of faith, it’s not a word I find very helpful. It makes me feel as though faith is a thing, like something in my brain that non religious people don’t have, or like a box of opinions or beliefs that were given to me when I became a Christian. And that’s pretty much the opposite of my own faith.

“Perhaps it is the fault of religious people. Sometimes, we say ‘because of my faith’ as a bit of a shorthand because it saves a long conversation. And people don’t generally want us to talk about our faith in public. But that can sometimes mean that people, in an attempt to respect a person of faith, don’t ask the sort of questions they would ask anyone else and so the reasons that people of faith hold views aren’t examined.”

You can hear the full broadcast – along with Fr Blackledge’s answer to the question of whether politicians can have faith – at this link. Thought for the Day begins at the 1:23:53 mark.