Difference Between Faith and Religion – What People Don’t Get

By: Katherine Abraham

By: Katherine Abraham

difference between faith and religion

What does the word “faith” mean in Hindi? How about the meaning of faith in English references? On another note, what does faith mean to Hindus and to Christians?

An anonymous writer once said, “Keep the faith. The most amazing things in life tend to happen right at the moment you’re about to give up hope.”

Hi, everyone! Welcome to “Chasing Hope,” hosted by Katherine Abraham. To start our series, we bring you the first episode entitled “The Power of One.”

Is there any significant distinction between faith and religion? You might be surprised to find out how different the two are! What makes my religion separate from others? Is Hinduism a religion or a faith?

By the end of this episode, you will get more precise answers.

Are you ready? Join in on the learning and decide for yourself what is best suited for you and your spiritual goals!

The Meaning of Faith

Praying in faith

One definition of “faith” can be “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”

But in this Podcast, we will use a more relevant definition. Faith is “the strong belief in the doctrines of a religion. It’s based on spiritual apprehension rather than empirical proof.”

What Does “Faith” Mean in Hindi?

The meaning of faith in Hindi or Hinduism is the way a person carries himself in devotion. It’s more on spiritual practices, highlighting Hindu values and traditions. The main focus is on the inner being and the individual self.

Faith and Christians

For Bible believers, they place the focus of faith on Jesus Christ. They uplift His name and place complete trust in His death, resurrection, and return.

In the context of Christianity, faith is a deep belief in the ability of Jesus Christ to die for people’s sins. The Bible’s words are “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Did you know that there are people worldwide who believe that faith alone can grant you eternal life? What a promise! Such transforming faith moves people to do great things for themselves and others.

What Is Religion?

Man of faith

This world is a melting pot of belief system multiplicity. Consider India. The religions in India are Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, among many others.

So what is religion?

For most religions, the word encompasses systems of spiritual practices. It focuses less on the values and beliefs behind particular groups of people.

Religion refers to the rituals, traditions, and culture of worshipers. In Hinduism, we see many everyday rituals such as pujā, japa, and dhyāna. Such practices count as a believer’s faith meaning in Hindi.

A person can associate himself with a specific religion. All he or she needs to do is take part and engage in its ritual practices.

Religion implies a sense of legalism. As such, there is a formal set of laws or rules to abide by.

If we take a closer look, religion derives instructions from ancient texts. Examples are the Vedas for Hinduism, the Quran for Islam, the Tanakh for Judaism, and the Bible for Christianity. Adherence to these laws is essential for each religion, albeit for various reasons.

Religions tend to come with their own sets of beliefs. It’s remarkable to note that these beliefs affect how their followers think, act, and talk. For example, Hindus believe that the individual soul (or atman) is immortal. The soul carries the transgressions from its past life into the next. For this reason, practicing Hindus try to live moral lives.

In What Areas Do Faith and Religion Differ?

A girl praying in faith

Because faith sits at the heart of religion, many people often confuse the two. Elements of faith are interwoven with the fabric of religious practices. These serve as the principal factor in establishing long-held traditions.

Faith and religion may be interchangeable, but the truth is that there are essential distinctions between faith and religion.

There are three real differences between faith and religion:


The meaning of faith is not always religious in context. It does not denote worship at all times.

We can have confidence in many things we don’t worship. Examples are faith in our friends, our ability to do a task, or whether it will rain tomorrow.

Religion connotes reverence. It is about the worship of a higher power or more extraordinary being(s).

For example, Christianity is monotheistic. Christians believe in a single all-powerful force, referred to as “God”. Hinduism accepts the existence of many gods with various functions, but the meaning of faith in Hindi is to pay homage to one supreme God called “Brahman.”

We see that both religions worship a divine power, and they each have their systems set in place to do that. These systems qualify them as religions. It makes sense that some form of faith drives all religions. 


Religion can be a mere language that expresses faith. It is the systems and practices that translate faith into something quantifiable. 

Think of this: Christianity began as a small movement of people. They had faith that Jesus Christ was the Appointed One they had waited for to save them. Over time, this movement grew to include a formal church structure and bureaucracy; then, it established itself as a religion. In a sense, the Christian “faith” transformed into the Christian “religion”.

Meanwhile, the meaning of faith in Hindi is to take part in Hindu customs and traditions. It is the way to become a true Hindu. Is this applicable to Christianity? Does this mean that a person must take part in a biblical worship structure to be a Christian? 

That’s a gray area, and not all Christians seem to agree on that point. 

Christianity operates within a set of laws believed to have come from God, and the way they keep those laws has become a matter of great importance. As a consequence, such belief led to a legalistic structure.


Here lies the most significant difference. While faith is inclusive, religion remains exclusive. The latter depends on your conformity to spiritual practices and rituals. At times, racial background affects religion (as in the case of Judaism). 

Faith is personal and exists in various ways to different individuals. But religion is corporate and lives for the collective. 

It is interesting to note that Christianity stirs up a lot of confusion. It tends to blur the lines between faith and religion. 

Many Christians believe that becoming a Christian is easy. All you have to do is accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. There are no rituals or religious services attached. This capacity would no longer serve to be a religion but faith. 

And that is where the confusion lies.

The truth is, it is confusing for many people about what it means to “be Christian.” The Bible is direct on this. This holy Book shows that Christianity was never meant to become a standard religion. 

This is the whole idea behind the Bible: Salvation is FREE. It is free for all, regardless of race, background, and even religious practice. But of course, nothing is perfect. There are Christians who claim that the church structure has taken precedence over faith. That is NOT what we are here to share.

The Bottom Line​

Jesus helping a man

There is a clear line between faith and religion. Christianity wasn’t meant to be the latter. 

There is this viral verse from the Bible. It says, “God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son, Jesus. Whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” That sounds like faith is the overarching theme in Christianity.

The religious systems, church structures, and worship services have their parts to play in Christianity. They are critical in facilitating the group’s growth. These are also vital in nurturing a healthy body of believers. Yet, they all come second to the real cornerstone of Christianity: Jesus Christ. 

And this is the best thing about it all. No matter who you are, faith in Jesus is the only qualifying factor to be a Christian. That’s right! You could be a Christian right now if you wanted to! Where you are is not an issue. Your current religion is not a problem. All you have to do is talk to Him in faith! 

To believe in Him doesn’t mean you have to confess to priests or participate in ritual masses. There’s no need to memorize prayers and pray to different saints. (But that’s a discussion for another time.) 

What did you think? Have we helped you to see Christianity in a different light? If you would like to learn more about how the Christian faith works, subscribe to this Podcast and stay tuned for weekly releases! 

If you have questions or comments, feel free to type in the comments section or email us. We’d love to hear from you.

And who knows, we may become your new favorite Indian Podcast.

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One response to “Difference Between Faith and Religion – What People Don’t Get”

  1. Very interesting and I go along with what you are saying! Christianity’s problem arose when man took control. If we read the histories of our Popes we see so many horrors you could easily lose your faith. There are different forms of catholicism but each one now an institution, as you say, and is governed by rules and regulations called the catechism, so it is now deemed a religion. Then came the reformation and our bibles where printed in languages we could understand. In the UK we formed the Church of England or The Anglican Church. They both enjoy dressing up and formalities but have reduced their rules to thirty nine precepts, which still entitles them to be called a religion. On the other hand there are a number of growing independent churches such as the evangelical movement which are truly rule free. They hear the word of Jesus saying love God love your neighbour. and follow me. The written rules of judaism where nailed to the cross and are becoming obsolete. We live by faith alone through Jesus Christ who has given us the knowledge of Almighty God and is our loving relationship with Him that has no formal written rules.

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