in a word :: opposing virtue

The way that we think about a concept (and employ it in practice!) is often clarified by articulating just what we see as that concept’s opposite.

How would you categorize the opposite of these three virtues?

The opposite of faith is _______.

The opposite of hope is ________.

The opposite of love is _______.

Elaborate further if you care to do so… I’ll enter my suggestions in a day or two.

10 Replies to “in a word :: opposing virtue”

  1. sensory input

    If you can see, taste, touch, smell, or hear something then there’s no need for faith that that thing exists. Irrefutable proof that Jesus existed and was the Son of God would be the death of Christianity because faith would be made unnecessary.


    I think we too often use ‘hope’ when we really mean ‘wish’. ‘Hope’ has the notion of expectation and anticipation so the opposite is to not care one way or the other.


    It’s not ‘hate’. You only hate something because you love something else so hate is just an expression of love. Think “love the sinner, hate the sin” — it’s all the same thing.

  2. incoherence

    Faith is an essential component of all knowing and living – the question isn’t faith vs no faith but faith in what, and within what horizons/parameters.


    Without hope, people die. Human beings are stubbornly teleological creatures.


    When we fail to love, we fail to fulfill our role as God’s image-bearers.

  3. I think a convincing case can be built that a cheap tradeoff between these two terms has been made by those who hope to build a credible apologetic for the Christian belief. Christianity is a worldview that can simply be placed on a chart next to several other “worldviews” so that one is free to compare how each stacks up against the other in various categories, and of course it will be plainly seen that Christianity is the one that makes the most sense. Not only do I think this is a shady tactic, it runs the inherent risk of placing our belief in a what instead of a whom. Think about the way we talk about belief; it is common to ask “What do you believe?” but rare to ask “In whom do you believe?” My thoughts on this have been influenced by Chesterton’s “The Everlasting Man” and Carl Raschke’s “The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Should Embrace Postmodernity.” I wish I had the time to cite some Chesterton; he is terribly exciting and original.
    On a somewhat tangential note, but not entirely, I think of a speech I heard given by N.T. Wright in which he said, “Many Christians believe that they are justified by faith because they belief in the doctrine of justification by faith.” George MacDonald, another terribly exciting and original thinker, argues along the same lines almost a century earlier in his “Unspoken Sermons.” Sigh. I wish we had a few MacDonalds and Chestertons around today…..reading them is so refreshing.

  4. of course, I’m not sure I listed opposing vices, just definitions and perspectives.

    I like Ryan’s thought on the opposite of love being neglect. Especially as I think about love/neglect as it relates to my daughter

  5. Tim,

    Very good points and an interesting take on it. It seems to me that even the Nicene Creed is a statement of “What I Believe” so there is a fair amount of precedence for posing the question thusly. But at the same time, isn’t it the “what’s” that make the difference? Many religions can say, “I believe in ‘God'” but it’s the qualifiers on God — the adjectives that separate the Christian God from, say, the Muslim God — that make the distinction and, therefore, become very important.

  6. Actually, and slightly more carefully, I might say that despair is to hope as hate is to love. In one sense, they are opposites, but as others have pointed out, it is probably more accurate to speak of apathy being the real “opponent” to love. In a similar way, I wonder whether “despair” is a form of hope that has lost sight of an object and whether the real opponent to hope mightn’t be complacency or satisfaction (or complacent satisfaction).

    Extending this thought further, the “obvious” or belligerent opposite of faith is unbelief, mistrust. The hidden or sneaky real opponent of faith is isolation.

    In each case, if faith, hope and love are positive numbers, the combative opposite is a negative number and the cancerous opponent is zero.

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