Exploring the essence of faith reveals a complex interplay of knowledge, conviction, and consent. It’s not merely an abstract feeling but a structured process that engages the intellect, the emotions, and the will. This exploration aims to dissect the components that constitute faith, using the analogy of trusting a chair to support one’s weight, and extending this understanding to the faith in Christ. By examining these elements, we gain insight into the nature of belief and the personal commitment it entails.
The Elements of Faith

1. Content (notitia or knowledge): There is no such thing as contentless faith. We have to have a defined object to trust. (“Claim” could work as well).
In the illustration: “A chair is some solid structure that can hold an individual while sitting, and I believe this is a chair.”

2. Conviction (assensus or assent): Faith requires a degree of being persuaded that something or someone is and can do or has done what is claimed in the content.In the illustration: “I have investigated this chair and have become convinced enough that it can hold me.”

3. Consent (fiducial or trust): Consent here is to yield to the claims by virtue of action.
In the illustration: “I am now resting the weight of my body on this chair, thereby evidencing my belief that this is a chair.”

What this Looks Like with Christ

Content: “I have the knowledge of the claim that Christ loves me and 2000 years ago, He became man so as to die for me on a cross to suffer my penalty for sin, and His desire is for me to believe this and so have eternal life with Him.”

Conviction: “I actually believe this claim about Christ is true. The more I research, the more I find that Christ did everything for me required and that He calls me to repent right now.”

Consent: “Though my knowledge is not perfect, nor is my conviction as certain as it could be, I have decided to rest the full weight of my life and future on Christ.”


Faith, as dissected through the metaphor of sitting in a chair and the profound belief in Christ’s sacrifice, transcends mere acknowledgment. It demands an active engagement with the claims presented, a degree of conviction of their truth, and a consent that manifests in a degree of personal commitment and action. This exploration not only clarifies the anatomy of faith but also emphasizes its depth, challenging us to consider the basis of our beliefs and the extent of our trust. It also should bring to our lives a desire to grow in all three areas.

In understanding these components, we find that faith is not a passive state but a dynamic and deliberate move toward knowledge, conviction, and trust.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    2 replies to "The Anatomy of Faith – Defining What Faith Really is All About"

    • Eric Quek

      To All Valued members of our community who have benefited from Michael Patton’s insightful work on “Anatomy of Faith,” and many other articles (blogs).

      It is time that we reflect on his tirelessly work to demystify theology for the layperson, yet we must not overlook the personal cost of his mission. His battles with depression, dependence/addiction to narcotics, financial difficulties and health issues are not just personal struggles—they are a clarion call for our support and understanding.

      Recent studies by Barna Research (2015-2022) & SurvivorNet paint a concerning picture of pastors’ well-being, one that Michael himself mirrors. The decline in pastor’s physical, mental and emotional health, along with the erosion of genuine friendships is alarming. For instance, only 17% of pastors in 2022 reported having excellent true friendships, down from 34% in 2015. This decline in well being isn’t just a statistic it is a reflection of the challenges faced by leaders like Michael.

      This is more than a call for empathy; it’s a plea for action. We must collectively seek ways to offer tangible support to Michael, ensuring that his well-being is prioritized alongside his professional endeavors. This might involve creating forums for open dialogue, providing resource s for mental and physical health, or simply being a consistent source of encouragement and support.

      As we travel this journey of support, it’s crucial to remember the fundamental virtues of Christian teaching: Our interactions and responses should be marked by charity, respect, and empathy, mirroring Christ’s love. We should embrace and respect the diversity of theological thought, steering clear of oversimplification or biased views, particularly in the current context of reactionary and biased interpretations.

      Your suggestion and ideas are vital in this journey. How can we, as a community, foster an environment that not only appreciates Michael’s work but also actively contributes to his well being? This isn’t just about supporting a valued leader; it’s about nurturing the health of our community. Let’s come together to offer Michael the support he need to thrive, not just survive. Your insights, comments and proactive suggestions are crucial to this mission.

      • C Michael Patton

        Wow! Thanks Erik. Completely agree. Gentleness and respect, or don’t engage.

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