Senin, Februari 25, 2008

Fides Quaerens Intellectum (Faith seeking understanding)

Faith has been one of the most misunderstood of human attributes in our system of beliefs (whatever they may be). Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” is probably the best example of the notion which pervades our society today. In this context, faith has been reduced to a blind devotion of piety to the object of choice; whether it’d be a god, an icon, or anything else. Moreover, this view has made a false dichotomy between faith and reason, as though having faith is tantamount to being irrational. Kierkegaard argued that “faith in God cannot be either rationally or empirically grounded.” (Geisler, 407) In this, we would disagree. Why must faith be irrational, or lack evidential support. Is faith not trust or certainty in the object of our devotion? Must faith be grounded on uncertainty?

I have entitled this article Fides Quaerens Intellectum (faith seeking understanding), not as an argument for the existence of God, as intended in Anselm’s ontological argument, the Proslogium (or, “A Discourse”). My objective is to present an orthodox view of faith as presented in this highlight of scripture from Romans 1:17-21(ESV):

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." [18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. [19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. [20] For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. [21] For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

The revelation of God unto man through the creation of the world, and also through the light of our consciousness is sufficient cause for trust. Faith does not only seek understanding, it is based on understanding. Faith then rests not on what we do not know about God, but through that which we do know about Him.

The notion that faith stops being faith the moment evidence is introduced, is a misconception of what constitutes true faith. Belief does not come despite the evidence; it is in light of it. This, however, does not say that faith is based in evidence or reason, rather, that it is in God, but supported by evidence. Simply put, faith must be exercised only to something or someone worthy of our trust. As an example, we can have faith on a stone to voluntarily move, but there is no warrant that it ever will. Likewise, we can place our faith in God to catch us after an intentional leap off a tall building; but surely this is an unreasonable expectation. True faith does not test God; true faith is trusting God (Matthew 4:5-7). It is important to understand that while God wants us to exercise our knowledge; he also desires that we exercise our wisdom. Thus, blind faith may be commended, but it is certainly not recommended. It may also be said that placing our faith on anything else other than God is futile, since God alone can grant our needs,
according to His will.

Jesus exclaimed that “if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20, ESV). This hyperbolized message reminds us that for all we know about God, only a little faith will do, and we shall overcome our struggle. This faith is real because it does not depend on our own strengths, but in the strength of God who is worthy of our trust. Scripture also reminds us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV). So the very essence of faith is gained through His word which becomes the true repository for faith.

Religiosity may thus be said to have no actual correspondence with faith, since faith is independent of any alliance, except through divine truth manifested in God’s grand plan; from His purposeful creation through the grace provided in atonement. This truth having been revealed in Scripture is also manifested in His wonderful creation (Psalm 19:1 ESV).

As it had been told to the Hebrews, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [2] For by it the people of old received their commendation. [3] By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible (Hebrews 11:1-3, ESV). [Emphasis mine] So, therein is an assurance, a conviction in which we can place our trust and understanding—that the universe was created, and not eternal; so that our hope is not in vain, but in accordance to that which testifies of His glory.

References :

Bible, English Standard Version. Romans 1:17-21; Matthew 4:5-7; Matthew 17:20; Romans 10:17; Psalm 19:1; Hebrews 11:1-3.

Geisler, Norman. Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, Baker Books, pg 407.

Wolff, Robert. About Philosophy, Prentice-Hall, pg 360.

Writer: Mario A. Lopez, The Apologia Project.

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