“An act of faith is an act of a finite being who is grasped by and turned to the infinite.”
Paul Tillich from Dynamics of Faith
“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.”
Paul Tillich from Systematic Theology, Volume 2
What is Spiritual Faith?
Many psychotherapists identify to varying degrees with the term “spiritual,” yet we lack a common vocabulary for explaining the significance of a spiritual orientation. We need a place to start, a reference point for “spiritual faith,” otherwise it is difficult to have a meaningful discussion about how psychotherapy and spirituality go together.
How can we define faith in a way that can apply to a wide range of people, including those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious”–and possibly also including people who do not like the word “spiritual,” but nonetheless would identify with the concept of “faith”?
Faith as a Relationship with the Infinite
Since spirituality is not about having a particular belief system, it is necessary to look at the actual experience that we associate with spirituality—to attempt to understand what faith actually feels like to someone with a spiritual orientation. I propose to look at it as a faith that stems from an ongoing relationship to those aspects of life that embody the infinite quality that Tillich was referring to. I understand that any attempt to describe faith is ultimately subjective and may not resonate for all of those who consider themselves to be on a spiritual path.
I offer several different ways to look at spirituality that I hope can help bring to life how we actually experience a relationship with the infinite. See the following articles: “Defining Faith: Paul Tillich on Faith and Doubt,” “The 23rd Psalm: For Those Who Are Spiritual But Not Religious” and “Defining Spirituality: The Wisdom of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Brother David Steindl-Rast and William James.”