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Who is “faithful”?

Some friends say about them that they are not faithful. They mean that they don’t follow any religion or denomination. I prefer to say that they are non-religious. Which does not necessarily mean that they are less “faithful” than people who follow some religion.


Somebody who understood the Good News and decided to believe in it.

people of good will

A synonym for faithful.

I find it interesting that the Roman Catholic church translates faithful to le fidèle (French) and der Gerechte (German). Yes, being faithful implies being just and loyal.

No human institution can decide whether you are faithful or not. Only God will judge you in the end of times. All people of good will are part of the Church.

Christians can indeed use the word faith to designate the faith in the Gospel. Among Christians, a faithful is a human who “understood” the Good News and “decided” to believe in it.1 Also other religious institutions use the word “faithful” in that specific meaning of belief in their specific teachings.

But this usage becomes questionable in multicultural contexts because it assumes that there is one “right” religion.



“Faith is a decision, a judgment that is fully and deliberately taken in the light of a truth that cannot be proven–it is not merely the acceptance of a decision that has been made by somebody else.” Thomas Merton (1915-1968)