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a leap of faith

Discussion in 'English Only' started by danielxu85, Feb 17, 2007.

  1. danielxu85 Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    I often hear people say have or take " a leap of faith", but I am at loss about its meaning. What's the difference between "a leap of faith" and simply "faith"? Could you give me some examples with this phrase?

    Here is the context:
    If buying a book online takes a small leap of faith, then doing one’s banking online is a far bigger leap.
  2. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    Faith sometimes has some marginal basis to support it but a leap of faith skips the requirement and relies on acceptance of a premise.
    It is the difference between accepting a blind date on the recommendation of a friend which requires only faith but a blind date with a person met on the net requires a leap of faith. You leap right past the faith to the acceptance.

  3. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English

    I love your answer up to the last sentence: "You leap right past the faith to the acceptance." I don't think that a "leap of faith" ever includes jumping "right past the faith." Rather, it means making a "blind leap," relying only on faith and not on common sense. When, in your example, the person agrees to go on a blind date with someone met on the internet, he or she is blindly entering into a relationship based on (almost) nothing but faith, and perhaps in defiance of common sense and practical reasoning.
  4. To buy a book online takes a small leap of faith. Well, of course it does. You are giving out your financial details, and you keep your fingers crossed that they don't fall into the wrong hands or get abused.

    To do one's banking online is a far bigger leap. Agreed. A hacker might gain access to your bank account and empty it.

  5. KYC Senior Member

    Hello, there:
    I am learning a phrase "a leap of faith".
    I looked it up in a dictionary and archive.
    It says :a decision to believe that something is true or will happen although you have no proof.

    However, I am not sure if I misunderstood the meaning of the phrase. Therefore, I try to use it to make sentences.
    Could you have a look at it for me?
    1.Even Kevin has lost a lot of money in the stock market, even most people have stopped investing, but he still takes a leap of faith and continues to invest a lot of money on the stock market.(Kevin stills believes that he will benefit from the stock market so he continues to invest even he has losted a lot of money for a long time.)

    2.Everyone thinks he is a bad guy. However, Mary takes a leap of faith of him and marries him. (what I want to express is that Mary believes strongly that he is a good guy even everyone doesn't think so.)

    Do I misuse the phrase "a leap of faith"?
    Thanks for your correction in advance.

    Edit:I have corrected my mistake after reading all of your correction.Thanks a lot!
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  6. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    It should be "marries" rather than "marry," in the second sentence to keep the verb tenses in agreement, but your use of "a leap of faith" is idiomatic.

    Note that "make a leap of faith" is also common, though for obvious reasons "take" is probably the most popular.
  7. roymer New Member

    Vancouver BC
    English ... England + Canada
    "leap of faith" is a phrase that suggests that the chasm between REALITY and FAITH requires a "leap" to cross it. Faith is essentially a situation of uncertainty owing to a lack of available PROOF to confirm it as reality.
  8. Rational_gaze Senior Member

    British English
    I personally would find the use of 'leap of faith' in the first example odd. Simply carrying on doing something, no matter how foolish, requires no 'leap', although he still does indeed have 'faith'.

    'Leap of faith' is most commonly used to refer to a person's religious beliefs: what they want to believe doesn't make sense, or is unfathomable, or mysterious, so a 'leap' is required for them to accept it.

    In the second example, Mary is indeed taking a leap of faith, in that she presumably thinks that 'the guy' will change if she marries him, or that he won't be 'bad' to her, and there is probably no evidence to support that conclusion.
  9. Franzi Senior Member

    Astoria, NY
    (San Francisco) English
    1 doesn't sound quite right to me either, but I could use "leap of faith" in the same general situation.

    "It takes a real leap of faith to start investing in this market!"
    "He took a leap of faith and began investing again despite the continuing economic crisis."

    A leap of faith is generally something you do one time. You decide to trust someone or you start doing something. It doesn't describe an ongoing state.
  10. manon33 Senior Member

    English - England (Yorkshire)
    I agree with the comments by Franzi and others that to take a leap of faith is a one-off action, not a continuing behaviour.

    I don't agree that it most commonly refers to someone's religion; it is a figure of speech derived from religion I suppose, but it is more commonly used in secular contexts.
  11. Rational_gaze Senior Member

    British English
    Okay, with hindsight I should have said 'commonly' rather than 'most commonly'. I guess the use that any one person finds to be most common depends entirely on the people they converse with and the types of publications they read.

    I wasn't meaning to suggest that it almost always used in a religious context (although I'm fairly sure that's where the phrase originated).

    However, perhaps a religious example could be a good one to illustrate how it is an isolated event: You wouldn't say, in my opinion "George found his prayers were not answered, but he took a leap of faith and kept on praying". The leap of faith occurred when George first became 'a believer'.
  12. almufadado

    almufadado Senior Member

    Português de Portugal
    How about :

    Even if Kevin has lost a lot of money in the stock market and most people have stopped investing, he still invests a lot of money in a leap of faith on the stock market.
  13. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    A "leap of faith" does not fit any religious context I know of, and I think it refers essentially to leaping without looking, trusting fate, not to leaping into faith or to jumping to conclusions.

    Some activities may require leaps of faith at multiple steps, but I agree that each step only takes one leap of faith. A leap of faith is not anything ongoing.
  14. KYC Senior Member

    Thanks for all of your clarifications.:)
    Could you help me again?
    Since most of you are in aggrement with Franzi's opinion.
    I am wondering if I can rewrite the sentence like:
    Even Kevin has lost a lot of money in the stock market, even most people have stopped investing, but he still takes a leap of faith for the stock market.Therefore he still invests money as much as he did.

    I am not very sure if the part I rewrote is right or not.
    May I have your correction?
    Thanks a lot!
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  15. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I would say "Kevin (still) takes a leap of faith and again invests as much in stocks as before."
  16. KYC Senior Member

    Thanks for your correction, Forero!:)
  17. Rational_gaze Senior Member

    British English
    That's really surprising to me. Are you perhaps saying that you don't think 'leap of faith' applies to your own religious beliefs? I know this isn't the place for a religious discussion, but I'm almost shocked if you're saying you've never heard 'leap of faith' in a religious context.

    Note I haven't mentioned 'leaping into faith', which changes the meaning significantly.

    If you do a Google search, and look at the first page, then you find:

    A Wikipedia article (the very first link) on the term 'leap of faith'. The first paragraph of that article reads "A leap of faith, in its most commonly used meaning, is the act of believing in something without, or in spite of, empirical evidence. It is an act commonly associated with religious belief as many religions consider faith to be an essential element of piety."

    Then you find a number of links about the (U.S.) film 'Leap of Faith', which is about a fraudulent Christian faith healer.

    You find a link to a Catholic website.

    ...and the Britannica entry for 'Leap of Faith (Religion)'.

    The rest of the hits on page one refer to song lyrics (which I haven't looking into the meaning of) and some sort of online game.
  18. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Thank you, RG. I had only heard "leap of faith" in regard to taking a risk.

    I probably need to read the Britannica more often. :)
  19. almufadado

    almufadado Senior Member

    Português de Portugal

    Sorry, but "leap of faith is from a bible allegory.
  20. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    What allegory is it from? Does faith require a leap, or does taking a leap require faith?

    More importantly, do the original sentences make sense in regards to the origin of the phrase?
  21. mplsray Senior Member

    Although one forum member has attributed leap of faith to a biblical allegory, the Wikipedia article "Leap of faith" referenced earlier in this thread has this to say about its origin:

    The article continues discussing Kierkegaard's idea by using the term leap of faith. Kierkegaard's take on it is clearly a reference to religion.

    As others have pointed out, leap of faith does indeed come up in discussions of religion, some believers objecting to it (as the Wikipedia article says C.S. Lewis did) but many embracing it. It takes only a bit of browsing on the Internet to see that this is so.
  22. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Interesting, Mplsray.

    "Leap to faith" is how I would describe a leap as in post #3, which reminds me of "jumping to conclusions", though obviously not the same thing.

    But a "leap of faith" to me is the other way around, a leap requiring faith/trust/courage, a leap over one's fear of the moment, such as a "leap" into a volatile market, which may require faith in a particular economic theory.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  23. almufadado

    almufadado Senior Member

    Português de Portugal
    I do not to sound like a preacher (as i am not one!) but :

    from king James bible

    So Moses, he is told to go to the desert, bring neither water nor bread (the lord provides !) ... we went in a leap of faith trusting the guy you spoke to him.

    On the other hand there are many temptations that, it seems, the "devil" (they say not so trustworthy !) plants them in front of you so you either take them in a "leap of faith" of reject those temptations.

    In religion (most at least) you are required to take that leap of faith that allows/provides/opens your belief in, the case of Christian religions, to accept "one god, one son, one holy spirit, all saints, and the miracles".

    That's is the immemorial use of the expression !
  24. Pet Luker Senior Member

    Sorry hit the button by mistake... he is not taking 'a leap of faith' he is 'keeping the faith'
  25. jacdac

    jacdac Senior Member

    Am I using the 'leap of faith' correctly in this sentence?

    The negative sensations feel so real. It will be a leap of faith to follow the treatment.

    Thanks in advance.
  26. AmaryllisBunny

    AmaryllisBunny Senior Member

    It doesn't make sense even without "leap of faith."

    Any who, here's the definition of leap of faith: an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved.

    Also the common phrasing is, to make or take a leap of faith.
  27. jacdac

    jacdac Senior Member

    What about this sentence ?

    My current perspective is so distorted that it will take a leap of faith to achieve the envisaged results.
  28. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    Jacdac, I have merged your question with an older thread on this same topic to reduce duplication. I hope it answers your questions, but if not, you're welcome to ask them here. :)

    English Only moderator
  29. ironman2012 Senior Member

    <Merged with an earlier thread. Nat, Moderator>


    If you take a leap of faith, you do something even though you are not sure it is right or will succeed. (From collinsdictionary.com).
    Does the blue part mean "they have done something (here the something is not specified), though they are not sure it is right, for some truth or mission or love"?
    Here "something" is "stepping into the unknown", so does the blue part mean "afraid to step into the unknown"?

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2018
  30. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    1. Yes.
    2. Yes. Piling up vague phrases like this does nothing helpful here. The last sentence means "Maybe you are afraid to take a chance on an uncertain thing."
  31. ironman2012 Senior Member

    This is clear. So can I think that "take a leap of faith" roughly means "take a chance/risk"?
  32. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    That's right. If you "take a leap of faith", you do some risky thing even though it isn't logically clear that you will succeed.
  33. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    For me the key element is that someone made a decision with some element of determination despite uncertainties and doubts. It is faith because you believe it will work out.

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