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Author Topic: What is FAITH?  (Read 4577 times)
michael_legna
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2004, 10:40:19 AM »

PART 4

IV. MOTIVES OF CREDIBILITY
(a) When we say that a certain statement is incredible we often mean merely that it is extraordinary, but it should be borne in mind that this is a misuse of language, for the credibility or incredibility of a statement has nothing to do with its intrinsic probability or improbability; it depends solely upon the credentials of the authority who makes the statement. Thus the credibility of the statement that a secret alliance has been entered into between England and America depends solely upon the authoritative position and the veracity of our informant. If he be a clerk in a government office it is possible that he may have picked up some genuine information, but if our informant be the Prime Minister of England, his statement has the highest degree of credibility because his credentials are of the highest. When we speak of the motives of credibility of revealed truth we mean the evidence that the things asserted are revealed truths. In other words, the credibility of the statements made is correlative with and proportionate to the credentials of the authority who makes them. Now the credentials of God are indubitable, for the very idea of God involves that of omniscience and of the Supreme Truth. Hence, what God says is supremely credible, though not necessarily supremely intelligible for us. Here, however, the real question is not as to the credentials of God or the credibility of what He says, but as to the credibility of the statement that God has spoken. In other words who or what is the authority for this statement, and what credentials does this authority show? What are the motives of credibility of the statement that God has revealed this or that?
(b) These motives of credibility may be briefly stated as follows: in the Old Testament considered not as an inspired book, but merely as a book having historical value, we find detailed the marvellous dealings of God with a particular nation to whom He repeatedly reveals Himself; we read of miracles wrought in their favour and as proofs of the truth of the revelation He makes; we find the most sublime teaching and the repeated announcement of God's desire to save the world from sin and its consequences. And more than all we find throughout the pages of this book a series of hints, now obscure, now clear, of some wondrous person who is to come as the world's saviour; we find it asserted at one time that he is man, at others that he is God Himself. When we turn to the New Testament we find that it records the birth, life, and death of One Who, while clearly man, also claimed to be God, and Who proved the truth of His claim by His whole life, miracles, teachings, and death, and finally by His triumphant resurrection. We find, moreover, that He founded a Church which should, so He said, continue to the end of time, which should serve as the repository of His teaching, and should be the means of applying to all men the fruits of the redemption He had wrought. When we come to the subsequent history of this Church we find it speedily spreading everywhere, and this in spite of its humble origin, its unworldly teaching, and the cruel persecution which it meets at the hands of the rulers of this world. And as the centuries pass we find this Church battling against heresies schisms, and the sins of her own people-nay, of her own rulers -- and yet continuing ever the same, promulgating ever the same doctrine, and putting before men the same mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of the world's Saviour, Who had, so she taught, gone before to prepare a home for those who while on earth should have believed in Him and fought the good fight. But if the history of the Church since New-Testament times thus wonderfully confirms the New Testament itself, and if the New Testament so marvellously completes the Old Testament, these books must really contain what they claim to contain, viz. Divine revelation. And more than all, that Person Whose life and death were so minutely foretold in the Old Testament, and Whose story, as told in the New Testament, so perfectly corresponds with its prophetic delineation in the Old Testament, must be what He claimed to be, viz. the Son of God. His work, therefore, must be Divine. The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching. Indeed, we can truly say that for every truth of Christianity which we believe Christ Himself is our testimony, and we believe in Him because the Divinity He claimed rests upon the concurrent testimony of His miracles, His prophecies His personal character, the nature of His doctrine, the marvellous propagation of His teaching in spite of its running counter to flesh and blood, the united testimony of thousands of martyrs, the stories of countless saints who for His sake have led heroic lives, the history of the Church herself since the Crucifixion, and, perhaps more remarkable than any, the history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X.
(c) These testimonies are unanimous; they all point in one direction, they are of every age, they are clear and simple, and are within the grasp of the humblest intelligence. And, as the Vatican Council has said, "the Church herself, is, by her marvellous propagation, her wondrous sanctity, her inexhaustible fruitfulness in good works, her Catholic unity, and her enduring stability, a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefragable witness to her Divine commission" (Const. Dei Filius) . "The Apostles", says St. Augustine, "saw the Head and believed in the Body; we see the Body let us believe in the Head" [Sermo ccxliii, 8 (al. cxliii), de temp., P.L., V 1143]. Every believer will echo the words of Richard of St. Victor, "Lord, if we are in error, by Thine own self we have been deceived- for these things have been confirmed by such signs and wonders in our midst as could only have been done by Thee!" (de Trinitate, 1, cap. ii).
(d) But much misunderstanding exists regarding the meaning and office of the motives of credibility. In the first place, they afford us definite and certain knowledge of Divine revelation; but this knowledge precedes faith; it is not the final motive for our assent to the truths of faith- as St. Thomas says, "Faith has the character of a virtue, not because of the things it believes, for faith is of things that appear not, but because it adheres to the testimony of one in whom truth is infallibly found" (De Veritate, xiv, Cool; this knowledge of revealed truth which precedes faith can only beget human faith it is not even the cause of Divine faith (cf. Suarez, be Fide disp. iii, 12), but is rather to be considered a remote disposition to it. We must insist upon this because in the minds of many faith is regarded as a more or less necessary consequence of a careful study of the motives of credibility, a view which the Vatican Council condemns expressly: "If anyone says that the assent of Christian faith is not free, but that it necessarily follows from the arguments which human reason can furnish in its favour; or if anyone says that God's grace is only necessary for that living faith which worketh through charity, let him be anathema" (Sess. IV). Nor can the motives of credibility make the mysteries of faith clear in themselves, for, as St. Thomas says, "the arguments which induce us to believe, e.g. miracles, do not prove the faith itself, but only the truthfulness of him who declares it to us, and consequently they do not beget knowledge of faith's mysteries, but only faith" (in Sent., III, xxiv, Q. i, art. 2, sol. 2, ad 4). On the other hand, we must not minimize the real probative force of the motives of credibility within their true sphere- "Reason declares that from the very outset the Gospel teaching was rendered conspicuous by signs and wonders which gave, as it were, definite proof of a definite truth" (Leo XIII, AEterni Patris).
(e) The Church has twice condemned the view that faith ultimately rests on an accumulation of probabilities. Thus the proposition, "The assent of supernatural faith . . is consistent with merely probable knowledge of revelation" was condemned by Innocent XI in 1679 (cf. Denzinger, Enchiridion, 10th ed., no. 1171); and the Syllabus Lamentabili sane (July, 1907) condemns the proposition (XXV) that "the assent of faith rests ultimately on an accumulation of probabilities." But since the great name of Newman has been dragged into the controversy regarding this last proposition, we may point out that, in the Grammar of Assent (chap. x, sect. 2), Newman refers solely to the proof of faith afforded by the motives of credibility, and he rightly concludes that, since these are not demonstrative, this line of proof may be termed "an accumulation of probabilities". But it would be absurd to say that Newman therefore based the final assent of faith on this accumulation- as a matter of fact he is not here making an analysis of an act of faith, but only of the grounds for faith; the question of authority does not come into his argument (cf. McNabb, Oxford Conferences on Faith, pp. 121-122).

END OF PART 4
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michael_legna
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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2004, 10:40:56 AM »

PART 5

V. ANALYSIS OF THE ACT OF FAITH FROM THE SUBJECTIVE STANDPOINT
(a) The light of faith. -- An angel understands truths which are beyond man's comprehension; if then a man were called upon to assent to a truth beyond the ken of the human intellect, but within the grasp of the angelic intellect, he would require for the time being something more than his natural light of reason, he would require what we may call "the angelic light". If, now, the same man were called upon to assent to a truth beyond the grasp of both men and angels, he would clearly need a still higher light, and this light we term "the light of faith" -- a light, because it enables him to assent to those supernatural truths, and the light of faith because it does not so illumine those truths as to make them no longer obscure, for faith must ever be "the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not" (Heb., xi, 1). Hence St. Thomas (De Veritate, xiv, 9, ad 2) says: "Although the Divinely infused light of faith is more powerful than the natural light of reason, nevertheless in our present state we only imperfectly participate in it; and hence it comes to pass that it does not beget in us real vision of those things which it is meant to teach us; such vision belongs to our eternal home, where we shall perfectly participate in that light, where, in fine, in God's light we shall see light' (Ps. xxxv, 10)."
(b) The necessity of such light is evident from what has been said, for faith is essentially an act of assent, and just as assent to a series of deductive or inductive reasonings, or to intuition of first principles, would be impossible without the light of reason, so, too assent to a supernatural truth would be inconceivable without a supernatural strengthening of the natural light "Quid est enim fides nisi credere quod non vides?" (i.e. what is faith but belief in that which thou seest not?) asks St. Augustine; but he also says: "Faith has its eyes by which it in some sort sees that to be true which it does not yet see- and by which, too, it most surely sees that it does not see what it believes" [Ep. ad Consent., ep. cxx 8 (al. ccxxii), P.L., II, 456].
(c) Again, it is evident that this "light of faith" is a supernatural gift and is not the necessary outcome of assent to the motives of credibility. No amount of study will win it, no intellectual conviction as to the credibility of revealed religion nor even of the claims of the Church to be our infallible guide in matters of faith, will produce this light in a man's mind. It is the free gift of God. Hence the Vatican Council (III, iii;) teaches that "faith is a supernatural virtue by which we with the inspiration and assistance of God's grace, believe those things to be true which He has revealed". The same decree goes on to say that "although the assent of faith is in no sense blind, yet no one can assent to the Gospel teaching in the way necessary for salvation without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, Who bestows on all a sweetness in believing and consenting to the truth". Thus, neither as regards the truth believed nor as regards the motives for believing, nor as regards the subjective principle by which we believe -- viz. the infused light -- can faith be considered blind.
(d) The place of the will in an act of faith. -- So far we have seen that faith is an act of the intellect assenting to a truth which is beyond its grasp, e.g. the mystery of the Holy Trinity. But to many it will seem almost as futile to ask the intellect to assent to a proposition which is not intrinsically evident as it would be to ask the eye to see a sound. It is clear, however, that the intellect can be moved by the will either to study or not to study a certain truth, though if the truth be a self-evident one -- e.g., that the whole is greater than its part -- the will cannot affect the intellect's adhesion to it, it can, however, move it to think of something else, and thus distract it from the contemplation of that particular truth. If, now, the will moves the intellect to consider some debatable point-e.g. the Copernican and Ptolemaic theories of the relationship between the sun and the earth -- it is clear that the intellect can only assent to one of these views in proportion as it is convinced that the particular view is true. But neither view has, as far as we can know, more than probable truth, hence of itself the intellect can only give in its partial adherence to one of these views, it must always be precluded from absolute assent by the possibility that the other view may be right. The fact that men hold much more tenaciously to one of these than the arguments warrant can only be due to some extrinsic consideration, e.g. that it is absurd not to hold what the vast majority of men hold. And here it should be noted that, as St. Thomas says repeatedly, the intellect only assents to a statement for one of two reasons: either because that statement is immediately or mediately evident in itself -- e.g. a first principle or a conclusion from premises -- or because the will moves it to do so. Extrinsic evidence of course comes into play when intrinsic evidence is wanting, but though it would be absurd, without weighty evidence in its support, to assent to a truth which we do not grasp, yet no amount of such evidence can make us assent, it could only show that the statement in question was credible, our ultimate actual assent could only be due to the intrinsic evidence which the statement itself offered, or, failing that, due to the will. Hence it is that St. Thomas repeatedly defines the act of faith as the assent of the intellect determined by the will (De Veritate, xiv, 1; II-II, Q. ii, a. 1, ad 3; 2, c.; ibid., iv, 1, c., and ad 2). The reason, then, why men cling to certain beliefs more tenaciously than the arguments in their favour would warrant, is to be sought in the will rather than in the intellect. Authorities are to be found on both sides, the intrinsic evidence is not convincing, but something is to be gained by assenting to one view rather than the other, and this appeals to the will, which therefore determines the intellect to assent to the view which promises the most. Similarly, in Divine faith the credentials of the authority which tells us that God has made certain revelations are strong, but they are always extrinsic to the proposition, "God has revealed this or that", and consequently they cannot compel our assent; they merely show us that this statement is credible. When, then, we ask whether we are to give in our free assent to any particular statement or not, we feel that in the first place we cannot do so unless there be strong extrinsic evidence in its favour, for to believe a thing merely because we wished to do so would be absurd. Secondly, the proposition itself does not compel our assent, since it is not intrinsically evident, but there remains the fact that only on condition of our assent to it shall we have what the human soul naturally yearns for, viz., the possession of God, Who is, as both reason and authority declare, our ultimate end; "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved", and "Without faith it is impossible to please God." St. Thomas expresses this by saying: "The disposition of a believer is that of one who accepts another's word for some statement, because it seems fitting or useful to do so. In the same way we believe Divine revelation because the reward of eternal life is promised us for so doing. It is the will which is moved by the prospect of this reward to assent to what is said, even though the intellect is not moved by something which it understands. Hence St. Augustine says (Tract. xxvi in Joannem, 2): Cetera potest homo nolens, credere nonnisi volens' [i.e. other things a man can do against his will but to believe he must will]" (De Ver., xiv, 1).
(e) But just as the intellect needed a new and special light in order to assent to the supernatural truths of faith, so also the will needs a special grace from God in order that it may tend to that supernatural good which is eternal life. The light of faith, then, illumines the understanding, though the truth still remains obscure, since it is beyond the intellect's grasp; but supernatural grace moves the will, which, having now a supernatural good put before it, moves the intellect to assent to what it does not understand. Hence it is that faith is described as "bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ" (II Cor., x, 5).

END OF PART 5
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michael_legna
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« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2004, 10:41:24 AM »

PART 6

VI. DEFINITION OF FAITH
The foregoing analyses will enable us to define an act of Divine supernatural faith as "the act of the intellect assenting to a Divine truth owing to the movement of the will, which is itself moved by the grace of God" (St. Thomas, II-II, Q. iv, a. 2). And just as the light of faith is a gift supernaturally bestowed upon the understanding, so also this Divine grace moving the will is, as its name implies, an equally supernatural and an absolutely gratuitous gift. Neither gift is due to previous study neither of them can be acquired by human efforts, but "Ask and ye shall receive."
From all that has been said two most important corollaries follow:
   That temptations against faith are natural and inevitable and are in no sense contrary to faith, "since", says St. Thomas, "the assent of the intellect in faith is due to the will, and since the object to which the intellect thus assents is not its own proper object -- for that is actual vision of an intelligible object -- it follows that the intellect's attitude towards that object is not one of tranquillity, on the contrary it thinks and inquires about those things it believes, all the while that it assents to them unhesitatingly; for as far as it itself is concerned the intellect is not satisfied" (De Ver., xiv, 1).
   (b) It also follows from the above that an act of supernatural faith is meritorious, since it proceeds from the will moved by Divine grace or charity, and thus has all the essential constituents of a meritorious act (cf. II-II, Q. ii, a. 9). This enables us to understand St. James's words when he says, "The devils also believe and tremble" (ii, 19) . "It is not willingly that they assent", says St. Thomas, "but they are compelled thereto by the evidence of those signs which prove that what believers assent to is true, though even those proofs do not make the truths of faith so evident as to afford what is termed vision of them" (De Ver., xiv 9, ad 4); nor is their faith Divine, but merely philosophical and natural. Some may fancy the foregoing analyses superfluous, and may think that they savour too much of Scholasticism. But if anyone will be at the pains to compare the teaching of the Fathers, of the Scholastics, and of the divines of the Anglican Church in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with that of the non-Catholic theologians of to-day, he will find that the Scholastics merely put into shape what the Fathers taught, and that the great English divines owe their solidity and genuine worth to their vast patristic knowledge and their strictly logical training.
Let anyone who doubts this statement compare Bishop Butler's Analogy of Religion, chaps. v, vi, with the paper on "Faith" contributed to Lux Mundi. The writer of this latter paper tells us that "faith is an elemental energy of the soul", "a tentative probation", that "its primary note will be trust", and finally that "in response to the demand for definition, it can only reiterate: "Faith is faith. Believing is just believing'". Nowhere is there any analysis of terms, nowhere any distinction between the relative parts played by the intellect and the will; and we feel that those who read the paper must have risen from its perusal with the feeling that they had been wandering through -- we use the writer's own expression -- "a juggling maze of words."

END OF PART 6
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« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2004, 10:41:59 AM »

PART 7

VII. THE: HABIT OF FAITH AND THE LIFE OF FAITH
(a) We have defined the act of faith as the assent of the intellect to a truth which is beyond its comprehension, but which it accepts under the influence of the will moved by grace and from the analysis we are now in a position to define the virtue of faith as a supernatural habit by which we firmly believe those things to be true which God has revealed. Now every virtue is the perfection of some faculty, but faith results from the combined action of two faculties, viz., the intellect which elicits the act, and the will which moves the intellect to do so; consequently, the perfection of faith will depend upon the perfection with which each of these faculties performs its allotted task; the intellect must assent unhesitatingly, the will must promptly and readily move it to do so.
(b) The unhesitating assent of the intellect cannot be due to intellectual conviction of the reasonableness of faith, whether we regard the grounds on which it rests or the actual truths we believe, for "faith is the evidence of things that appear not"; it must, then, be referred to the fact that these truths come to us on Divine infallible testimony. And though faith is so essentially of "the unseen" it may be that the peculiar function of the light of faith, which we have seen to be so necessary, is in some sort to afford us, not indeed vision, but an instinctive appreciation of the truths which are declared to be revealed. St. Thomas seems to hint at this when he says: "As by other virtuous habits a man sees what accords with those habits, so by the habit of faith a man's mind is inclined to assent to those things which belong to the true faith and not to other things" (II-II:4:4, ad 3). In every act of faith this unhesitating assent of the intellect is due to the motion of the will as its efficient cause, and the same must be said of the theological virtue of faith when we consider it as a habit or as a moral virtue, for, as St. Thomas insists (I-II, Q. lvi, ), there is no virtue, properly so called, in the intellect except in so far as it is subject to the will. Thus the habitual promptitude of the will in moving the intellect to assent to the truths of faith is not only the efficient cause of the intellect's assent, but is precisely what gives to this assent its virtuous, and consequently meritorious, character. Lastly, this promptitude of the will can only come from its unswerving tendency to the Supreme Good. And at the risk of repetition we must again draw attention to the distinction between faith as a purely intellectual habit, which as such is dry and barren, and faith resident, indeed, in the intellect, but motived by charity or love of God, Who is our beginning, our ultimate end, and our supernatural reward. "Every true motion of the will", says St. Augustine, "proceeds from true love" (de Civ. Dei, XIV, ix), and, as he elsewhere beautifully expresses it, "Quid est ergo credere in Eum? Credendo amare, credendo diligere, credendo in Eum ire, et Ejus membris incorporari. Ipsa est ergo fides quam de nobis Deus exigit- et non invenit quod exigat, nisi donaverit quod invenerit." (Tract. xxix in Joannem, 6. -- "What, then, is to believe in God? -- It is to love Him by believing, to go to Him by believing, and to be incorporated in His members. This, then, is the faith which God demands of us; and He finds not what He may demand except where He has given what He may find.") This then is what is meant by "living" faith, or as theologians term it, fides formata, viz., "informed" by charity, or love of God. If we regard faith precisely as an assent elicited by the intellect, then this bare faith is the same habit numerically as when the informing principle of charity is added to it, but it has not the true character of a moral virtue and is not a source of merit. If, then, charity be dead -- if, in other words, a man be in mortal sin and so without the habitual sanctifying grace of God which alone gives to his will that due tendency to God as his supernatural end which is requisite for supernatural and meritorious acts -- it is evident that there is no longer in the will that power by which it can, from supernatural motives, move the intellect to assent to supernatural truths. The intellectual and Divinely infused habit of faith remains, however, and when charity returns this habit acquires anew the character of "living" and meritorious faith.
(c) Again, faith being a virtue, it follows that a man's promptitude in believing will make him love the truths he believes, and he will therefore study them, not indeed in the spirit of doubting inquiry, but in order the better to grasp them as far as human reason will allow. Such inquiry will be meritorious and will render his faith more robust, because, at the same time that he is brought face to face with the intellectual difficulties which are involved, he will necessarily exercise his faith and repeatedly "bring his intellect into submission". Thus St. Augustine says, "What can be the reward of faith, what can its very name mean if you wish to see now what you believe? You ought not to see in order to believe, you ought to believe in order to see; you ought to believe so long as you do not see, lest when you do see you may be put to the blush" (Sermo, xxxviii, 2, P.L., V, 236). And it is in this sense we must understand his oft-repeated words: "Crede ut intelligas" (Believe that you may understand). Thus, commenting on the Septuagint version of Isaias vii 9 which reads: "nisi credideritis non intelligetis", he says: "Proficit ergo noster intellectus ad intelligenda quae credat, et fides proficit ad credenda quae intelligat; et eadem ipsa ut magis magisque intelligantur, in ipso intellectu proficit mens. Sed hoc non fit propriis tanquam naturalibus viribus sed Deo donante atque adjuvante" (Enarr. in Ps. cxviii, Sermo xviii, 3, "Our intellect therefore is of use to understand whatever things it believes, and faith is of use to believe whatever it understands; and in order that these same things may be more and more understood, the thinking faculty [mens] is of use in the intellect. But this is not brought about as by our own natural powers but by the gift and the aid of God." Cf. Sermo xliii, 3, in Is., vii, 9; P.L., V, 255).
(d) Further, the habit of faith may be stronger in one person than in another, "whether because of the greater certitude and firmness in the faith which one has more than another, or because of his greater promptitude in assenting, or because of his greater devotion to the truths of faith, or because of his greater confidence" (II-II:5:4).
(e) We are sometimes asked whether we are really certain of the things we believe, and we rightly answer in the affirmative; but strictly speaking, certitude can be looked at from two standpoints: if we look at its cause, we have in faith the highest form of certitude, for its cause is the Essential Truth; but if we look at the certitude which arises from the extent to which the intellect grasps a truth, then in faith we have not such perfect certitude as we have of demonstrable truths, since the truths believed are beyond the intellect's comprehension (II-II, Q. iv, 8; de Ver., xiv, and i, ad 7).

END OF PART 7
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2004, 10:43:26 AM »

PART 8

VIII. THE GENESIS OF FAITH IN THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL
(a) Many receive their faith in their infancy, to others it comes later in life, and its genesis is often misunderstood. Without encroaching upon the article REVELATION, we may describe the genesis of faith in the adult mind somewhat as follows: Man being endowed with reason, reasonable investigation must precede faith; now we can prove by reason the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the origin and destiny of man; but from these facts there follows the necessity of religion, and true religion must be the true worship of the true God not according to our ideas, but according to what He Himself has revealed. But can God reveal Himself to us? And, granting that He can, where is this revelation to be found? The Bible is said to contain it; does investigation confirm the Bible's claim? We will take but one point: the Old Testament looks forward, as we have already seen, to One Who is to come and Who is God; the New Testament shows us One Who claimed to be the fulfilment of the prophecies and to be God; this claim He confirmed by His life, death, and resurrection by His teaching, miracles, and prophecies. He further claimed to have founded a Church which should enshrine His revelation and should be the infallible guide for all who wished to carry out His will and save their souls. Which of the numerous existing Churches is His? It must have certain definite characteristics or notes. It must be One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, it must claim infallible teaching power. None but the Holy, Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church can claim these characteristics, and her history is an irrefragable proof of her Divine mission. If, then, she be the true Church, her teaching must be infallible and must be accepted.
(b) Now what is the state of the inquirer who has come thus far? He has proceeded by pure reason, and, if on the grounds stated he makes his submission to the authority of the Catholic Church and believes her doctrines, he has only human, reasonable, fallible, faith. Later on he may see reason to question the various steps in his line of argument, he may hesitate at some truth taught by the Church, and he may withdraw the assent he has given to her teaching authority. In other words, he has not Divine faith at all. For Divine faith is supernatural both in the principle which elicits the acts and in the objects or truths upon which it falls. The principle which elicits assent to a truth which is beyond the grasp of the human mind must be that same mind illumined by a light superior to the light of reason, viz. the light of faith, and since, even with this light of faith, the intellect remains human, and the truth to be believed remains still obscure, the final assent of the intellect must come from the will assisted by Divine grace, as seen above. But both this Divine light and this Divine grace are pure gifts of God, and are consequently only bestowed at His good pleasure. It is here that the heroism of faith comes in; our reason will lead us to the door of faith but there it leaves us; and God asks of us that earnest wish to believe for the sake of the reward -- "I am thy reward exceeding great" -- which will allow us to repress the misgivings of the intellect and say, "I believe, Lord, help Thou my unbelief." As St. Augustine expresses it, "Ubi defecit ratio, ibi est fidei aedificatio" (Sermo ccxlvii, P.L., V, 1157 -- "Where reason fails there faith builds up").
(c) When this act of submission has been made, the light of faith floods the soul and is even reflected back upon those very motives which had to be so laboriously studied in our search after the truth; and even those preliminary truths which precede all investigation e.g. the very existence of God, become now the object of our faith.

END OF PART 8

Again, sorry this got so long but the more I read of it the better it gotand the more I wanted to share of it.

END
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« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2004, 10:44:58 AM »

Michael, that's more reading than I ever wanted to do...

You really didn't need all that for faith did you? (Just being rhetorical, since I believe you do have faith indeed).    Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2004, 10:50:21 AM »

Michael, that's more reading than I ever wanted to do...

You really didn't need all that for faith did you? (Just being rhetorical, since I believe you do have faith indeed).    Smiley

I wish I could read all day.  I can't read fast enbough for all the reading I want to do.  My wife threatens to throw out half my library of books I reference and books I intend to read some day, but I just keep buying more.   Grin
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« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2004, 01:57:08 PM »

Faith is a knowledge that supasses all human understanding. It isn't just hoping and praying that something is true, it is KNOWING that it is true. The only thing I KNOW for sure is that Jesus christ is the way, the truth and the life and that NO ONE can come to the father except through Him. This "knoweldge" comes from God in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to BELIEVE every word Jesus said. Spiritual knowledge is VASTLY different from knowledge that comes from the human mind. Knowledge that comes from the human mind is fallible because our minds our fallible. But knowledge that comes from the spirit is infallible becuase it comes from the spsirit of God.

So how do we know if our knowledge is coming from our minds or the spirit? It's very easy if one looks for it. Knowledge that comes from human nature comes from pride, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, anger, and lust. Any BELIEF that does NOT agree with Jesus's words but instead glorifies OURSELVES is coming from the sin of pride.  This includes any belief that endorses gratifying our lustful desires in any way OTHER than how God created us is coming from lust. Any belief that gives OURSELVES credit for ANYTHING good in us is coming from pride. Any belief that justifies taking money or possessions for ourselves is coming from greed and gluttony. Any belief that endorses neglecting our neighbors is coming from sloth and so on and so forth.

In contrast, any belief that endorses the fruits of the spirit which are; hope, love, patience, humility, self-control, is coming from the Holy Spirit. Jesus encompasses ALL the fruits of the spirit in every word he said. If his beliefs are distorted so that they endorse pride, envy, hate, etc. then those are false interpretations.

Faith is a gift from God in the form of the Holy Spirit that changes our hearts. The Holy Spirit turns our envy into thankfulness, greed into generosity, pride into humility, sloth into helpfulness, anger into compassion, gluttony into temperance and lust into genuine love. We CANNOT transform ourselves. Only the holy Spirit can transform us into the persons God wants us to be. All we have to do is; "BELIEVE in the one He sent," and the Holy Spirit does the rest. That is truly believing in the power of God, not the power of ourselves.  
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« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2004, 07:49:59 PM »

1 Corinthians 2:9.  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
 10.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
 11.  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
 12.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
 13.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
 14.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
 15.  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
 16.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
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« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2004, 06:11:37 AM »

14.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.


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THINGS THAT DIFFER By C.R. Stam
Read it on line for "FREE"

http://www.geocities.com/protestantscot/ttd/ttd_chap1.html

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