"Just have faith"?

Hi everyone,

When someone asks a tough question about Christianity, sometimes Christians respond, “You just need to have faith”?

What problems do you see with this answer?

Are there times when it is the right answer?


“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1, KJV) italics added for emphasis

I think the above verse can be paraphrased
somewhat loosely to say that cli​chéd phrase, “just have faith”. Meaning that Jesus Himself used a variant of this statement

I think this phrase has its proper place in a conversation relevant to the intended receiver of the words. Saying it to somebody who do not hold the same belief as you do might sound dismissive. But to a like-minded believer, it might be reassuring; like a verbal equivalent of a pat on the back.

There are times when silence is the best response. Referring to faith for a final appeal might be another better reply.


I definitely think there are times when we should be encouraged to just have faith even when we don’t understand. I think it’s hard to do, especially in our culture where we now require evidence for everything.

However, in my experience, there are times when it’s such an unsatisfactory response. An example might be in conversations where someone is earnestly trying to understand why the Bible says something that seems so difficult to grasp, such as suffering, trials and temptations. Another example might be why some people are healed and not others. In certain instances, I believe this response may have a negative impact on someone’s faith. It can give the impression of believing something because you want to believe it - a sort of wishful thinking - rather than because it’s true even when it’s hard to comprehend. In some of these instances, all we can do is have faith, but I believe the Bible also calls us to wrestle with understanding. There’s something so important about trying to understand our faith more intricately.

We’re commanded to love the Lord with our heart, mind, soul and strength (Luke 10:27). To only ‘have faith’ and never try to understand anything would be to fail in using our minds to love God. Similarly, Proverbs 15:14 demonstrates that we are to seek things out. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that fools despise instruction. It would be foolish to never try and grow in knowledge. This would be a ‘blind faith’ which is very different to faith based on sound understanding of God’s perfect nature as described in Hebrews 11:1.

To ‘just have faith’ really means to grow in understanding of God and trust His unchanging goodness even if the circumstances, or the theology isn’t fully understood. Perhaps there’s a better way we should be saying this to each other?


I realize this is an old thread, but it caught my eye as a suggested thread, and I wanted to also comment on it. :slight_smile:

I like what both @alison and @dennis have written about context. There are some times when the phrase may be appropriate and some times when it is not! I mostly think it’s not.

The crux for me is the word “just”. There are several ways this adverb can be used, and in this case it’s used to mean “simply”. One of the things I’ve often wrestled with (esp. when I was thinking about the words we say and sing in Sunday worship) is grasping/communicating the simple core of Christianity without descending into simplicity. “Just have faith” has a simplistic ring to it, as in, “Look. This situation is not complex or difficult; it’s simple. Have faith.”

Oftentimes, there is nothing “plain and simple” about having faith. Faith – though it can involve simple actions – is, itself, not a simple action; it is a process of relationship. And that process can be a very difficult one, where one cannot hide from the complex emotional responses it inevitably brings. The concept may be simple, but the execution can be hard.

What if we just leave off the “just”?? :laughing:


Well said @kathleen . I can recall several situations where I was asked to ‘Just have faith’ without any tangible help. And in response I would eagerly ask, “But how?” How much better if someone could take the time to understand the difficulty in having faith and provide explanations and support as needed during the struggles of faith.