A while back ago I was rereading the First Lecture in the Lectures on Faith that Joseph Smith taught in the school of the prophets. I had an interesting observation, which I plan to look into more, but I want to share the observation. What I noticed is that in Lectures on Faith 1 there are multiple places where faith and belief was used interchangeably. Which makes me wonder if faith and belief are the same thing.
Lets start by looking at a portion of verse 10.
10 If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thoughts and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily discover that it is FAITH, and FAITH ONLY, which is the moving cause of all action, in them; that without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.
Verse 10 is saying it FAITH and FAITH ONLY which get men to move to action.
In verse 11 it gives more insight but uses a different word.
11 … Was it not the hope which you had, in consequence of your BELIEF in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion, in order to obtain them? …
Wait a minute, didn’t verse 10 say it was FAITH and FAITH ONLY that got men to move to action? Yes it did. What is going on. I hope as I continue you will see that FAITH and BELIEF are synonymous. The next sentence is a real kicker.
11 … Are you not dependent on your FAITH, OR BELIEF, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom and intelligence? …
FAITH OR BELIEF. Is this a either or situation or as I currently believe using different names for the same concept? Considering verses 10 and 11 are describing the same thing, and verse 10 says ONLY I would argue it is a different name for the same thing. But lets continue looking through First Lecture to see what it says on the subject.
Lectures on Faith is a lecture series on faith, and the first lecture is dedicated to what faith is (see verse 1). In addition to the example in verse 11 I already gave, verse 11 mentions BELIEF 9 times and FAITH 5 times. If this is a lecture on faith why is belief being mentioned more than faith? Or is it as I am proposing that faith and belief are synonymous, the same concept but two different words.
11 Were this class to go back and reflect upon the history of their lives, from the period of their first recollection, and ask themselves, what principle excited them to action, or what gave them energy and activity, in all their lawful avocations, callings and pursuits, what would be the answer? Would it not be that it was the assurance which we had of the existence of things which we had not seen, as yet?—Was it not the hope which you had, in consequence of your BELIEF in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion, in order to obtain them? Are you not dependent on your FAITH, or BELIEF, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence, unless you did BELIEVE that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown if you had not BELIEVED that you would reap? Would you have ever planted if you had not BELIEVED that you would gather? Would you have ever asked unless you had BELIEVED that you would receive? Would you have ever sought unless you had BELIEVED that you would have found? Or would you have ever knocked unless you had BELIEVED that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there any thing that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously BELIEVED? Are not all your exertions, of every kind, dependent on your FAITH? Or may we not ask, what have you, or what do you possess, which you have not obtained by reason of your FAITH? Your food, your raiment, your lodgings, are they not all by reason of your FAITH? Reflect, and ask yourselves, if these things are not so. Turn your thoughts on your own minds, and see if FAITH is not the moving cause of all action in yourselves; and if the moving cause in you, is it not in all other intelligent beings?
Verse 11 associates both FAITH and BELIEF as the first step before you moved to action. Verse 12 continues the substituting one word for the other.
12 An as FAITH is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual; for the Savior has said, and that truly, that he that BELIEVETH and is baptized, shall be saved. (Mark 16:16)
In verse 12 Joseph Smith says that FAITH is the moving cause of ALL action, and then quotes Mark 16:16 as proof for what he is teaching which uses the word BELIEVETH. In verse 18 the substitution happens the other direction, but this time it is Jesus Christ who is using the words interchangeably.
18 The Savior says, (Matthew 17:19-20), in explaining the reason why the disciples could not cast out the devil, that it was because of their UNBELIEF: “For verily, I say unto you,” said he, “if ye have FAITH as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place! and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Jesus Christ said they could not do a miracle because of their UNBELIEF, and then goes on teaching them about having FAITH as the size of a muster seed. When I think of miracles and FAITH my mind always thinks of Moroni 7:37, which teaches the same thing as Matt 17:19-20 and also uses FAITH and BELIEF interchangeably.
Moroni 7:37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by FAITH that MIRACLES are wrought; and it is by FAITH that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of UNBELIEF, and all is vain.
One thing I plan to do in the future is go through all the scriptures in the Book of Mormon about faith and belief and see if this pattern I’m seeing exists there. But I do believe the First Lecture in the Lectures on Faith has ample examples showing us the FAITH and BELIEF is the same thing.