Fundamentals of Faith
On the upper list of links of this page, under “Catholic vademecum”, you will find a more detailed explanation of Faith in the traditional understanding of the Church.
In times of discussion about “aggressive secularisation”, it is perhaps fitting to repeat a concept or two in reduced form.
The Faith required of every Christian is not a feeling. No atheist can excuse himself by saying that he is very sorry, but he just doesn’t feel the existence of any God; nor can he say that if an omnipotent God existed he could cause him to believe and that would be that, but alas…..
Faith is something we are expected to work towards. To do this, two things are necessary: will and intellect. Without the will to believe we’ll go along believing what we find comfortable to believe; without the intellect we will not be able to grasp the Truth.
God can be “known with certainty by the natural light of human reason” (Vatican I). By reason we discover 1) the historical truth of the existence of Jesus; 2) that this Jesus is, by a great number of prophecies realised in Him, beyond doubt the Messiah the Jews were waiting for; 3) that therefore his claim to be God must perforce be as authentic as His authentically being the Messiah.
The fundamental concept here is twofold:
1) God can be known with certainty, if one cares to do his homework;
2) no one is excused from doing this homework.
“Not believing” is neither here nor there. It is not about “believing” as in “feeling that there is a God”, it is about working on the historical and theological sources, reading the prophesies about the Messiah and register as a matter of pure facts the astonishing number of correspondences between what the Messiah was supposed to be, and what Jesus came to be. Faith is about realising 1) that the Christian Messiah was, uniquely, announced; 2) that when he came he showed that he was the One who had been announced, and that he was God.
Jesus is the only one who proved His identity, who proved that he was the one whom the world was waiting for. No amount of uninformed “but I do not believe in God, so I do not care” can ever go beyond this simple fact.
Faith (in this meaning) is not about angels visiting one and giving him assured proof of the existence of God, nor is it about explosive inner voices shouting until reason gets the message.
Faith is an assent to a truth believed because known from a source one has examined intellectually and has considered beyond doubt. If someone tells me that the Earth rotates around the sun, or that water is made out of hydrogen and oxygen, I believe this pretty much in the same way: I believe the authority on which the assertion rests, because this authority stands the exam of my intellect.
Faith is about doing one’s own homework. As it has to do with eternal salvation, there’s no work more important than this.
Posted on September 21, 2010, in Catholicism and tagged Atheism, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, conservative catholicism, Existence of God, Faith, First Vatican Council, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
Thank you for cogent and coherent presentation on the work required to affirm our attaining an understanding of our faith. It is nonsense for the endless talk about atheists feeling offended and put upon by a christian culture. Popular culture is far from advocating christianity. The freedom to pray without the need to hide from public condemnation or persecution is only retained by exercising that right! No apologies to the sensitive atheists feelings.
the “sensitive atheist” is one who wants to be free to do whatever he pleases without even fearing public disapproval.
Very often, he is sexually deviant to boot.
I’m an atheist who would never be so arrogant as to believe I understand the mindset of an entire, disparate group of people, (Christians for example). I also would try very hard not to judge a group of people, to label them with abusive terms, (such as sexually deviant, for example).
I try to be good and those seem like not very nice things to do, in my opinion.
Enjoy your day 🙂
If you really try not to judge, try avoid judging me. You either judge or you don’t. You can’t be “non-judgmental” only when it is about sexual perversions and “judgmental” about those who condemn them, this is just hypocrisy.
I am a Christian who tries to think with his own head instead of hiding behind platitudes like the one you have just written. People have mindsets or better said, philosophies. Some of them are just plain wrong.
I also try very hard not to let my need of feeling “nice” come in the way of Truth. The defence of Truth implies judging, but I understand that feeling “inclusive” is just simpler.
Sexually deviant is an objective term, not an abusive one. Feel free to substitute with “poof” or “faggot” if you like them more. I am not a follower of the new religion of “being nice”. I prefer to say it as it is. False compassion leads people to hell, truth is uncomfortable but salutary.
Charity, we call it. Nothing to do with “doing nice things”.
Be sure I will enjoy my day. Wish the same to you.
By the way Lucy,
you have replied to my post, “fundamentals of faith”.
Anything to comment on the matter or the only argument is that I am not “being nice”?
“I also try very hard not to let my need of feeling “nice” come in the way of Truth.”
You’re doing a super, super job of it too. I guess we have very, very different feelings on how to live a “good” life. Hope yours is a good one 🙂
You’re being judgemental again, by implying that my life is not good.
You should really try harder not to judge.
I certainly didn’t intend to imply that your life is not “good”. I was simply stating that we may have differing opinions on what makes a “good” life.
It seems odd to me that you should implore me not to judge when I’ve already chastised you on that front 🙂
Apologies for any offense caused.
I do not implore you not to judge. I merely hold you to your ethical standards.
As for myself, I do judge. Unashamedly. I namely do not subscribe to the “do not judge” ideology.
As to the “good” life, I’m afraid the standards do not come from me. I wish they would, but alas.. 😉
But I get your point now, so there is no need to apologise.