A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, March 14, 2022

St. Paul and Thomas Aquinas on Faith

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness (Romans 4:1-5)

The Apostle Paul would agree with St. Thomas that faith is a virtue. The virtue of faith “perfects the intellect.” Faith is a virtue “because it is a habit of the mind.” Faith is what allows us to assent to what is unseen, just as Abraham traveled to a land unseen because he had faith in the God who led him. Yet, one misunderstands Aquinas if faith is interpreted in fideistic fashion, that is as something that is opposed to reason. For Aquinas faith and reason are not synonymous, to be sure, but they work hand in hand. Indeed, for faith to be the theological virtue that perfects the intellect it has to be concerned with what makes sense. In one sense, faith believes what is unseen precisely because of what is seen and experienced, that is, what is known in this existence. But faith moves beyond this existence to encounter ultimate questions of why human beings exists asking questions that concern the purpose of the entire universe itself.

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