I have been wrestling with one issue of this book recently, the issue of belief versus faith. He writes that "belief can be studied scientifically; faith can't be studied except by observed results." He uses a dictionary definition of belief, "to accept that certain things are true or real." How do things become beliefs? "Information may be seen as entering the brain as neurological stimuli (hearing, seeing, and so on), and then being neurochemically translated into emotions (that is, how you feel about what you just heard) and then into belief (accept as true or reject as false). Once this is accomplished, the new belief takes on its emotional uniform and, with the authority of that belief, proclaims it as truth."
Faith, however, is defined as "the giving of oneself to be controlled and remade by what commands trust and devotion." (This definition comes from the Encyclopedia of Religion.) Now if we apply this definition to being a follower of Jesus, faith is the surrender or giving of oneself to Jesus Christ as one's ruler. It is allowing Jesus to be the potter and oneself the clay. How does one establish faith? Cox argues that establishing belief involves using the brain. However, faith "comes only from seeing the results of the instilled belief. This is where modeling and celebration of faith comes in." In other words, there is no known neuroscience explanation for the formation of faith. However, one's belief system plus seeing people role model actions of faith plus hearing stories of faith being honored, that seems to develop faith- a switch from just a belief to a surrender to that belief.
There is a huge difference between belief and faith. It is one thing to believe that through Jesus we may have eternal life. It is another thing to live by faith without any fear of death, because you know that you will be with Jesus once you die. It is one thing to believe that God works all bad things and situations out for his good. It is another thing to rejoice in those hard situations, because you know by faith that these difficult things are for God's glory, and so you praise him. It is one thing to believe that one should "count yourself dead to sin," but it is another thing to live "alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11) It is one thing to believe that God heals; it is another thing to pray and wait by faith for God to heal you or show you what to do to receive your healing. It is one thing to believe that all Christians have the Holy Spirit; it is another thing for a person by faith to "live by the Spirit."
When I think of the difference between belief and faith, I see two differences: 1) Faith is belief personally applied. In other words, not only did "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son," but also, "God so loved John Melhorn (put in your name) that he gave his one and only Son." That truth is for me. So, faith personally applies one's beliefs to one's life. 2) As I said earlier, faith is the surrender to that truth that commands devotion. One has given oneself over to that truth. Thus, by faith followers of Jesus have no fear of death. Why? Because if they are following Jesus now before they die, after death they will get to be in his very presence. Thus, for followers of Jesus who have allowed this belief to become faith, they will not fear their death but will celebrate their new life with Jesus even before they die. Faith thus gives oneself over to one's belief.
One last thought: I wonder if some of the theological differences between denominations or fellow followers of Jesus is really a matter of the difference between belief versus faith. If you go back to the paragraph that illustrates the difference between belief and faith and ponder the beliefs of different denominations, could it be that different denominations are in different places in the belief versus faith spectrum? I don't know. I am just pondering it.