What Does An Act of Faith Mean?

Act of Faith Meaning

Definition: 1) doing something that shows your religious beliefs; 2) doing something that shows you have hope for a positive outcome.

Origin of An Act of Faith

This expression has religious origins. It comes from the Portuguese expression auto da fe.

Starting in the 13th century, the Catholic Church began the Inquisition. This was a way for the church to combat heresy. Certain people in the church believed that it was a good idea to execute non-Catholics or people who used to be Catholic but now left the church. They thought this would please God and be an act that demonstrated their faith.

Over time, the meaning changed to mean something much less intense. Nowadays, an act of faith can describe anything that tests one’s religious beliefs or beliefs of any kind.

Examples of An Act of Faith

act of faith prayerIn the example below, two friends decide to take a chance on something that they believe in.

Ted: Do you remember how, when we were young, we used to always say we would start our own company?

Rufio: Of course! We were going to use our super secret recipe to sell calzones!

Ted: Well, it’s 30 years later, and I still think we make the best calzones of anyone in the world. Also, we’re both unhappy with our current professions. I honestly think we should try to start this business.

Rufio: Really? Neither of us has any experience with opening a restaurant, nor even with customer service.

Ted: I know. But we do have a lot of passion. What do you think?

Rufio: It would certainly be an act of faith, but it has always been our dream. Let’s do it!

Ted: Awesome! I’m so excited for this.

define act of faithThis dialogue shows a woman talking with her friend about plans for a summer day.

Zayna: Hey! I’m going swimming later today at the lake outside of town. Do you want to join us?

Ben: Isn’t that lake super polluted?

Zayna: Now that you mention it, yes. It is pretty polluted. But you’ll be fine if you don’t drink the water!

Ben: I’m pretty sure the hospital dumped a bunch of medical waste in there.

Zayna: Well, swimming there is sort of an act of faith, but it will be fun. Trust me! You should come.

More Examples

The excerpt below is about a woman who uses her clothing choice to show her faith to God.

  • “So it is an act of faith,” Silva said. “I did it for God and to this day I still continue to wear my hijab proudly. And I’m proudly American. I’m proudly Mexican and I’m proudly woman and I’m proud to be here as well.” –LA Times

This excerpt says that people who ride trains are taking a chance because it is dangerous. These people do this dangerous thing because they have faith that they will survive.

  • Riding an American commuter train is a minor act of faith — or at least of psychological sublimation. A passenger must manage to forget the reality of being aboard a cannonball traveling up to 79 miles per hour. –LA Times


The phrase an act of faith means doing something that tests one’s personal convictions.