Credo in Unum Deum

I Believe in One God

What is Faith, Part 2

Thus saith Newman- not Analytic, but also not Thomas Aquinas…

Lead on Kindly Light…

 

Now, in the first place, what is faith? it is assenting to a doctrine as true, which we do not see, which we cannot prove, because God says it is true, who cannot lie. And further than this, since God says it is true, not with His own voice, but by the voice of His messengers, it is assenting to what man says, not simply viewed as a man, but to what he is commissioned to declare, as a messenger, prophet, or ambassador from God. In the ordinary course of this world we account things true either because we see them, or because we can perceive that they follow and are deducible from what we do see; that is, we gain truth by sight or by reason, not by faith. You will say indeed, that we accept a number of things which we cannot prove or see, on the word of others; certainly, but then we accept what they say only as the word of man; and we have not commonly that absolute and unreserved confidence in them, which nothing can shake. We know that man is open to mistake, and we are always glad to find some confirmation of what he says, from other quarters, in any important matter; or we receive his information with negligence and unconcern, as something of little consequence, as a matter of opinion; or, if we act upon it, it is as a matter of prudence, thinking it best and safest to do so. We take his word for what it is worth, and we use it either according to our necessity, or its probability. We keep the decision in our own hands, and reserve to ourselves the right of reopening the question whenever we please. This is very different from Divine faith; he who believes that God is true, and that this is His word, which He has committed to man, has no doubt at all. He is as certain that the doctrine taught is true, as that God is true; and he is certain, because God is true, because God has spoken, not because he sees its truth or can prove its truth. That is, faith has two peculiarities;—it is most certain, decided, positive, immovable in its assent, and it gives this assent not because it sees with eye, or sees with the reason, but because it receives the tidings from one who comes from God. This is what faith was in the time of the Apostles, as no one can deny; and what it was then, it must be now, else it ceases to be the same thing. I say, it certainly was this in the Apostles’ time, for you know they preached to the world that Christ was the Son of God, that He was born of a Virgin, that He had ascended on high, that He would come again to judge all, the living and the dead. Could the world see all this? could it prove it? how then were men to receive it? why did so many embrace it? on the word of the Apostles, who were, as their powers showed, messengers from God. Men were told to submit their reason to a living authority. Moreover, whatever an Apostle said, his converts were bound to believe; when they entered the Church, they entered it in order to learn. The Church was their teacher; they did not come to argue, to examine, to pick and choose, but to accept whatever was put before them. No one doubts, no one can doubt this, of those primitive times. A Christian was bound to take without doubting all that the Apostles declared to be revealed; if the Apostles spoke, he had to yield an internal assent of his mind; it would not be enough to keep silence, it would not be enough not to oppose: it was not allowable to credit in a measure; it was not allowable to doubt. No; if a convert had his own private thoughts of what was said, and only kept them to himself, if he made some secret opposition to the teaching, if he waited for further proof before he believed it, this would be a proof that he did not think the Apostles were sent from God to reveal His will; it would be a proof that he did not in any true sense believe at all. Immediate, implicit submission of the mind was, in the lifetime of the Apostles, the only, the necessary token of faith; then there was no room whatever for what is now called private judgment. No one could say: “I will choose my religion for myself, I will believe this, I will not believe that; I will pledge myself to nothing; I will believe just as long as I please, and no longer; what I believe today I will reject tomorrow, if I choose. I will believe what the Apostles have as yet said, but I will not believe what they shall say in time to come.” No; either the Apostles were from God, or they were not; if they were, everything that they preached was to be believed by their hearers; if they were not, there was nothing for their hearers to believe. To believe a little, to believe more or less, was impossible; it contradicted the very notion of believing: if one part was to be believed, every part was to be believed; it was an absurdity to believe one thing and not another; for the word of the Apostles, which made the one true, made the other true too; they were nothing in themselves, they were all things, they were an infallible authority, as coming from God. The world had either to become Christian, or to let it alone; there was no room for private tastes and fancies, no room for private judgment.

http://www.newmanreader.org/works/discourses/discourse10.html

June 27, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Protestantism, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

SSPX on its way back?

Well, we can only hope.  Rorate and Father Z have a good bit to say about it.  Please pray for the Church.

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

What is Faith?

“Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of
things that appear not.”

Is this a good defininition?
St. Thomas thinks that it is, especially since the Apostle himself gives it. And while the definition is not like a technical definition, St. Thomas contends that it lacks none of the necessary components of a definition. What then is the “substance” of the “substance of things hoped for”? Obviously, it cannot be a substance in terms of the supreme genus as in Aristotelian logic. He says that substance may also be suitably used to indicate the “first beginning of a thing”. Thus it can be said that “the first self-evident principles are the substance of science, because, to wit, these principles are in us the first beginnings of science, the whole of which is itself contained in them virtually.” So then, faith is the first beginning of the things we hope for and do not see. The object of faith then is understood as something unseen, as the second part of the definition says. For what we hope for we do not see, “(Rom. 8:25): ‘We hope for that which we see not’: because to see the truth is to possess it.” 
St Thomas explains “evidence”; that it “is taken for the result of evidence. For evidence induces the intellect to adhere to a truth, wherefore the firm adhesion of the intellect to the non-apparent truth of faith is called ‘evidence’ here. Hence another reading has ‘conviction,’ because to wit, the intellect of the believer is convinced by Divine authority, so as to assent to what it sees not.”
He then goes on to define faith using the form of definition:

Accordingly if anyone would reduce the foregoing words to the form of a definition, he may say that “faith is a habit of the mind, whereby eternal life is begun in us, making the intellect assent to what is non-apparent.”

He further explains,

In this way faith is distinguished from all other things pertaining to the intellect. For when we describe it as “evidence,” we distinguish it from opinion, suspicion, and doubt, which do not make the intellect adhere to anything firmly; when we go on to say, “of things that appear not,” we distinguish it from science and understanding, the object of which is something apparent; and when we say that it is “the substance of things to be hoped for,” we distinguish the virtue of faith from faith commonly so called, which has no reference to the beatitude we hope for.

Therefore, we must next ask what the proper object of faith is.

(All quotes from St. Thomas are from his Summa Theologica, Treatise on Theological Virtues, Question 4, Article 1.)

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Philosophy, Protestantism, Religion | Leave a comment

How do we come to assent to “mere Christianity?”

Sorry this is so long.
http://www.orestesbrownson.com/index.php?id=227;http://www.orestesbrownson.com/index.php?id=228

The Church against No-Church
Part I of II
Brownson’s Quarterly Review, April, 1845
Art. 1. The Christian Examiner and Religious Miscellany, January, 1845. Art. VI. The Church.
The Journal, the title of which we have here quoted, is the ably conducted organ of the American Unitarians. As a periodical, it is one in which we take no slight interest; for it is conducted by our personal friends, and through its pages, which were liberally opened to us, we were at one time accustomed to give circulation to our own crude speculations and pestilential heresies. We introduce it to our readers, however, not for the purpose of expressing any general opinion of its character, or the peculiar tenets of the denomination of which it is the organ ; but solely for the purpose of using the article which appeared in the January number, headed The Church, as a text for some remarks in defence of the Church against the prevalent No-Churchism of our age and community.
In our Review for October last, we refuted the pretensions of the High-Church Episcopalians ; in the last number, in the article on The British Reformers, we refuted Low-Churchism : we attempt now a refutation of No-Churchism, or the doctrine which admits the Church in name, but denies it in fact. All Protestant sects, just in proportion as they depart from Catholic unity, tend to No-Churchism ; and our Unitarians, who are the Protestants of Protestants, and who afford us a practical exemplification of what Protestantism is and must be, when and where it has the sense, the honesty, or the courage to be consequent, have already reached this important point. They cannot be said, in the legitimate sense of the word, to believe in any Church at all. They see clearly enough, that, if they once admit a Church at all, in any sense in which it is distinguishable from No-Church, they can neither justify the Reformers in seceding from the Catholic Church, nor themselves in remaining aliens from its communion. They have, therefore, the honesty and boldness to deny the Church altogether, and to admit in its place only a voluntary association of individuals for pious and religious purposes ; in which sense it is on a par with a Bible, Missionary, Temperance, or Abolition society, with scarcely any thing more holy in its objects, or more binding on its members.
The Examiner, in the article we have referred to, fully authorizes this statement; and though it by no means discards the sacred name of Church, it leaves us nothing venerable or worth contending for to be signified by it. The controversies, for the next few years, it thinks, will, not improbably, revolve around the question of the Church. ” What, then,” it asks, ” is the Church ? what is its authority ? what its importance ? what its true place among Christian ideas or influences ?” These are the questions ; and its purpose in the article under consideration is to offer a few remarks which may indicate a true answer to them, especially the last.
In answer to the question, What is the Church ? the writer replies, ” It is the whole company of believers, the uncounted and wide-spread congregation of all those who receive the Gospel as the law of life. It is coextensive with Christianity ; it is the living Christianity of the time, be that more or less, be it expressed in one mode of worship or another, in one or another variety of internal discipline. The Church of Christ comprehends and is composed of all his followers.” pp. 78, 79.
The answer to the question, What is the importance of the Church ? is not very clearly set forth. Perhaps this is a point on which the writer has not yet attained to clear and distinct views. It is, probably, one of those points on which “more light is to break forth.” The place of the Church among Christian ideas and influences is also not very definitely determined ; but it would appear, according to the Examiner, that the sacred writers had two ideas,for they were not, like our modern reformers, men of only one idea, and these two ideas were, one the Church, the other the individual soul. We do not mean to say that the writer really intends to teach that the Church is an idea, for a ” company of believers” can hardly be called an idea, nor can the individual soul; but he probably means to teach that the sacred writers had two ideas, or rather two points of view, from which they contemplated this company of believers,-the one collective, the other individual. “They loved to collect in ideathe members of Christ, as they styled them, under one idea, and present them in this relation of unity to their readers. Thus viewed, the Church became the emblem of Christian influences and Christian benefits. It expressed all Christ had lived for, or died for. He had loved it, and given himself for it. It was ‘the pillar and ground of the truth.’ It was «the body’ of which he was the head.”p. 79.This unity, however, is purely ideal. The only unity really existing consists merely in the similar sentiments, hopes, and aims of the individual members. But
” There was another idea on which the Apostles insisted still more strenously, that of the individual soul. They taught the importance of the individual soul. Around this, as the one object of interest, were gathered the revelations and commandments of the Gospel. Personal responsibleness in view of privileges, duties, sins, temptations was their great theme. They preached the Gospel to the soul in its individual exposure and want. It is the peculiarity of our religion, its vital peculiarity, that it makes the individual the object of its address, its immediate and its final action. Christianity divested of this distinction becomes powerless, and void of meaning. It contradicts and subverts itself.” Ib.

Continue reading

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Protestantism, Religion | Leave a comment

A Prayer for Protestants

I got this from my good friend Duns over at Inconvenience Rightly Considered.  Very cute.

 

May God be kind to captive fish
Who dwell in little bowls and wish
To swim, and can’t, and have no notion
Of what has happened to the ocean.

And may He Bless in aviaries
Continually caged canaries,
Who wonder, when they try to fly,
What can have happened to the sky.

(From the pen of the never to be sufficiently maligned)

Fr. Leonard Feeney S.J.

Nice.

June 5, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Protestantism, Religion | Leave a comment