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  #1  
Old Feb 6, '12, 7:56 pm
PermanentMarker PermanentMarker is offline
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Default What is the probative force of the motives of credibility?

I am confused on the probative force of the motiva credibilitatis. My understanding of Church teaching is that we can have - indeed, we must have - certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation prior to the assent of faith. Hence, Innocent XI condemns the following proposition:

" The supernatural assent of Faith necessary for salvation is compatible with merely probable knowledge of Revelation, nay even with doubt whether God has spoken."

How can we acquire this certain knowledge? The Church seems to teach that it is acquired from a scientific investigation of the motiva credibilitatis. The First Vatican Council, for example, decrees that the divine origin of the Christian religion can be known and proven by "certain signs" (i.e., the motiva credibilitatis). And the Catholic Encyclopedia article on fideism harshly criticizes the view that the motiva credibilitatis provides only probable knowledge of the fact of Revelation:

"As to the opinion of those who maintain that our supernatural assent is prepared for by motives of credibility merely probable, it is evident that it logically destroys the certitude of such an assent."

It is clear to me, then, that the Church teaches that we can and must have certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation prior to the assent of faith and that the motiva credibilitatis furnishes this knowledge.

Here is the problem. The Church also seems to teach (or, at least, her theologians) that the motives of credibility only furnishes probable knowledge of the fact of Revelation, directly contradicting what I showed above. Of course, this discrepancy could only be apparent and due to a misunderstanding on my part, but I have hard time resolving it. Take a look at the Catholic Encyclopedia article on faith. Under the section "Motives of Credibility," you'll find this apparent discrepancy. It quotes the earlier condemnation of Innocent XI, but then it goes on to limit the probative force of the motives of credibility to a mere "accumulation of probabilities," in agreement with Newman.

Take a look at another apparent discrepancy from "A Manual of Catholic Theology" (emphasis mine):

"The Catholic Church therefore teaches...that these external and manifest facts which accompany the proposition of Revelation can produce a <b>perfect certitude</b> of the fact of Revelation in the minds of all." (124)

vs.

"Besides this primary liberty of Faith, there is also a secondary liberty, arising from the non-cogency of the motives of credibility, which allows the will to withhold its consent and leaves room for doubt and even denial" (132)

"In order to elicit an act of Faith, we must know Revelation... the fact... of Revelation,"

"perfect certitude"

vs.

"non-cogency"

What gives? Can we have certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation or not? And do the motives of credibility provide that knowledge or not?

Also, on a related issue. Assuming that we can have a certain knowledge of all these things prior to the assent of faith, what room does that leave for the freedom of the act of faith? Doesn't one come under an obligation to have faith after having that kind of knowledge?
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  #2  
Old Feb 7, '12, 3:23 pm
thenobes thenobes is offline
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Default Re: What is the probative force of the motives of credibility?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PermanentMarker View Post
I am confused on the probative force of the motiva credibilitatis. My understanding of Church teaching is that we can have - indeed, we must have - certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation prior to the assent of faith. Hence, Innocent XI condemns the following proposition:

" The supernatural assent of Faith necessary for salvation is compatible with merely probable knowledge of Revelation, nay even with doubt whether God has spoken."

How can we acquire this certain knowledge? The Church seems to teach that it is acquired from a scientific investigation of the motiva credibilitatis. The First Vatican Council, for example, decrees that the divine origin of the Christian religion can be known and proven by "certain signs" (i.e., the motiva credibilitatis). And the Catholic Encyclopedia article on fideism harshly criticizes the view that the motiva credibilitatis provides only probable knowledge of the fact of Revelation:

"As to the opinion of those who maintain that our supernatural assent is prepared for by motives of credibility merely probable, it is evident that it logically destroys the certitude of such an assent."

It is clear to me, then, that the Church teaches that we can and must have certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation prior to the assent of faith and that the motiva credibilitatis furnishes this knowledge.

Here is the problem. The Church also seems to teach (or, at least, her theologians) that the motives of credibility only furnishes probable knowledge of the fact of Revelation, directly contradicting what I showed above. Of course, this discrepancy could only be apparent and due to a misunderstanding on my part, but I have hard time resolving it. Take a look at the Catholic Encyclopedia article on faith. Under the section "Motives of Credibility," you'll find this apparent discrepancy. It quotes the earlier condemnation of Innocent XI, but then it goes on to limit the probative force of the motives of credibility to a mere "accumulation of probabilities," in agreement with Newman.

Take a look at another apparent discrepancy from "A Manual of Catholic Theology" (emphasis mine):

"The Catholic Church therefore teaches...that these external and manifest facts which accompany the proposition of Revelation can produce a <b>perfect certitude</b> of the fact of Revelation in the minds of all." (124)

vs.

"Besides this primary liberty of Faith, there is also a secondary liberty, arising from the non-cogency of the motives of credibility, which allows the will to withhold its consent and leaves room for doubt and even denial" (132)

"In order to elicit an act of Faith, we must know Revelation... the fact... of Revelation,"

"perfect certitude"

vs.

"non-cogency"

What gives? Can we have certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation or not? And do the motives of credibility provide that knowledge or not?

Also, on a related issue. Assuming that we can have a certain knowledge of all these things prior to the assent of faith, what room does that leave for the freedom of the act of faith? Doesn't one come under an obligation to have faith after having that kind of knowledge?

Sounds like a problem of a person being logical enough to see that myriad only "probable" events, when taken as a whole, lead to a extremely probable Source of those events, giving one a sense of certainty of the existence of that Source.

"Revelation", in this scenario, is the totality of numerous individual instances of revelation.

peace
steve
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  #3  
Old Feb 23, '12, 12:45 am
Blue Horizon Blue Horizon is offline
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Default Re: What is the probative force of the motives of credibility?

Hello PM
Just came across your query here - as you say, some common themes!

I believe you have got confused over some ambiguous expressions below and also may not quite have grasped the unique way Aquinas views the nature of certitude wrt the assent of faith.

e.g. In " indeed, we must have - certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation prior to the assent of faith." ... I think "certain" here means "some" not "certitude."

(1) The certitude he speaks of wrt faith has nothing to do with that certitude which comes from reason. If I had the intellect of an angel (or a devil for that matter) I would unwaiveringly know (by the evidence of creation) that God existed by intellectual certitude alone, not by faith. In this context intellectual "seeing" is not "believing."

(2) Motives of credibility: In the end I understand the MOC to be another form of intellectual "certitude." I say certitude in brackets because it is not of the same quality as intellectual "metaphysical" certitude (e.g. 4+4=8) but is, as Newman maintains, probably best describes how the human mind works in the world when it acquires a feeling of conviction/certitude in practical affairs. And again, because it is primarily based on the operation of the intellect (rather than the will) it is not to be confused with faith (faith is a total assent of the will regardless of the quality of intellectual certitude) . However MOC can be a springboard for faith. Some people seem to call a "certitude" (not all people have such a "certitude") based on based on MOC "aquired faith." But it is not true faith and can easily fail when we leave the environment/cosy-club which supports it.

(3) Faith: The certitude of faith seems to derive from a pure act of the will (under the action of infused grace) responding to the self evident authority of the One who speaks. Therefore, under such powerful circumstances, to refuse to believe is sinful. What is actually spoken (which may have very minimal intellectual content) is therefore secondary - it is not the source of this assent/certitude. The assent of the will in an act of faith is directed at this Person who speaks. Aquinas says somewhere that the actual intellectual content ("the articles of revelation") of such an act of faith may be quite confused (maybe "unformed" or "as yet unrealised by the believer" is a better way to put it). The absolute minimal intellectual content of such a faith encounter must of course by definition be the "revelation" of the existence of God - who is that Person communicating. One cannot experience a "call" to believe by something that doesn't exist and hence cannot "call."


WRT "the Church teaches that we can and must have certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation prior to the assent of faith and that the motiva credibilitatis furnishes this knowledge" ... I have never come across that before. Sounds like something has been lost in translation ... maybe I am wrong but the obvious meaning of the words used doesn't ring any bells for me. Of course we must accept the possibility of revelation before an occasion of actual "revelation" hits us otherwise we will not see it or reject it. I do not think the understanding/purpose of MOC is to supply us with raw material (let alone pre-existing intellectual certitude about it) for a later call of faith - though that may happen. Surely completely new intellectual material (revelation) may be revealed by the Revealer at the time of His revealing? This is the explicit position of Balthasar in his famous theological analogy of the Mother's Smile.

Anyhow, that is my take on it ... having researched this matter quietly for the last 20 years.
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  #4  
Old Jul 6, '16, 9:35 pm
Little Tiger Little Tiger is offline
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Posts: 182
Religion: Catholic - the fullness of the truth
Default Re: What is the probative force of the motives of credibility?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PermanentMarker View Post
I am confused on the probative force of the motiva credibilitatis. My understanding of Church teaching is that we can have - indeed, we must have - certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation prior to the assent of faith. Hence, Innocent XI condemns the following proposition:

" The supernatural assent of Faith necessary for salvation is compatible with merely probable knowledge of Revelation, nay even with doubt whether God has spoken."

How can we acquire this certain knowledge? The Church seems to teach that it is acquired from a scientific investigation of the motiva credibilitatis. The First Vatican Council, for example, decrees that the divine origin of the Christian religion can be known and proven by "certain signs" (i.e., the motiva credibilitatis). And the Catholic Encyclopedia article on fideism harshly criticizes the view that the motiva credibilitatis provides only probable knowledge of the fact of Revelation:

"As to the opinion of those who maintain that our supernatural assent is prepared for by motives of credibility merely probable, it is evident that it logically destroys the certitude of such an assent."

It is clear to me, then, that the Church teaches that we can and must have certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation prior to the assent of faith and that the motiva credibilitatis furnishes this knowledge.

Here is the problem. The Church also seems to teach (or, at least, her theologians) that the motives of credibility only furnishes probable knowledge of the fact of Revelation, directly contradicting what I showed above. Of course, this discrepancy could only be apparent and due to a misunderstanding on my part, but I have hard time resolving it. Take a look at the Catholic Encyclopedia article on faith. Under the section "Motives of Credibility," you'll find this apparent discrepancy. It quotes the earlier condemnation of Innocent XI, but then it goes on to limit the probative force of the motives of credibility to a mere "accumulation of probabilities," in agreement with Newman.

Take a look at another apparent discrepancy from "A Manual of Catholic Theology" (emphasis mine):

"The Catholic Church therefore teaches...that these external and manifest facts which accompany the proposition of Revelation can produce a <b>perfect certitude</b> of the fact of Revelation in the minds of all." (124)

vs.

"Besides this primary liberty of Faith, there is also a secondary liberty, arising from the non-cogency of the motives of credibility, which allows the will to withhold its consent and leaves room for doubt and even denial" (132)

"In order to elicit an act of Faith, we must know Revelation... the fact... of Revelation,"

"perfect certitude"

vs.

"non-cogency"

What gives? Can we have certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation or not? And do the motives of credibility provide that knowledge or not?

Also, on a related issue. Assuming that we can have a certain knowledge of all these things prior to the assent of faith, what room does that leave for the freedom of the act of faith? Doesn't one come under an obligation to have faith after having that kind of knowledge?
Hello! I realize this thread was started very long ago, but perhaps you will look at my response - I have also looked at this strange apparent discrepancy. Firstly, I would like to give a plain and clear answer to your question - yes, we can and do have absolutely certain knowledge of the fact of Revelation. Pope Leo XIII taught, as we see in the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Faith, that the Gospel message has been accompanied by "definite proof of a definite truth" - definite, not probably. And the First Vatican Council taught, as we also see quoted in the same article, that the Church herself is an "irrefragable" or "irrefutable" witness to her divine mission - that which is irrefutable is absolutely certain, not merely probable. And perhaps the most straightforward is the quotation of Pope Innocent XI you mentioned - probable knowledge of revelation is not compatible with faith, nor is doubt of Revelation. I will mention a hypothesis that came to my mind - perhaps the meaning of Newman is that they are an accumulation of probablities in the sense that each is a probability in itself, but when combined they are absolutely certain. This may well be inadequate, and even false. I would recommend reading Laying the Foundations, an apologetics book by Father Joseph Clifford Fenton, with a forward by Dr. Scott Hahn. He mentions a scientific historical certitude regarding Our Lord and His miracles, which in itself can hardly be termed a probability. Also, the miracles at Lourdes can hardly be termed a probability, particularly when considered in conjunction with the scientifically demonstrated Eucharistic miracles, the incorruptibles, etc... Also, don't worry, the Church does NOT teach a probable knowledge of Revelation. At best, Cardinal Newman does as a personal theologian, with no magisterial authority whatsoever. But the proof is in the magisterial pudding. The First Vatican Council, along with informing us that the Church herself is an irrefutable witness to her Divine commission, tells us that the Divine origin of the Christian religion can be proved by miracles - no probability, only absolute and certain proof. Also, there are Pope Leo's words concerning definite proof, and the words of Pope Innocent. THAT is what the Church teaches. I am sorry to see this odd, apparent inconsistency in the CE article. But, I will reaffirm what it got correct - the motives of credibility afford us definite and certain knowledge of Divine Revelation, not probable knowledge. And that is the truth. God bless you my friend!

In Christ,

Kyle T.
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Faith and Certitude - Thomas Dubay
Laying the Foundation: A Handbook of Catholic Apologetics and Fundamental Theology - Joseph Fenton
The Miracle of Lourdes- Ruth Cranston
College Apologetics: Proof of the Truth of the Catholic Faith - Anthony Alexander
Catholic Apologetics Today - William Most
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  #5  
Old Jul 9, '16, 4:32 am
Vic Taltrees UK Vic Taltrees UK is offline
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Religion: assent to degrees of inference
Default Re: What is the probative force of the motives of credibility?

One can be certain of the relative credibility of something (assent to degrees of inference). This is because credibility doesn't exist in a vacuum but is gifted to individuals by God like sea anemones are gifted to the sea.

Therefore if one acts on it by caring for others with one's time or prayers knowing it is not going to suck the life out of one by doing so (acting like there is goodness that upholds us) one is putting true faith into practice. Exposure to Scripture explanations according to the tradition of Jesus and the Apostles, together with prayer singly and with others, are liable to nurture this.

One can thereby add gradually to one's beliefs over a lifetime or simply hang on somehow to what one has got. How many people have been glad of this and those around them appreciated them for something in the way they could live, even though they did not have higher degrees in apologetics!

There isn't much of a minimum ideology about Christ that one has to subscribe to, no 2matter what some would like to say. If one was seriously attached to erroneous doctrine the risk could be that it may undermine the efficacy of one's faith lived out. Even then, the momentum already given has often enabled some to carry on living fruitful spiritual lives as they continue to act out what they have at some point intuited.

An example of erroneous doctrine undermining the efficacy of one's faith lived out is when some people think that if they don't go through a huge amount of hoops that have been laid on them by some clergy and "catechists" who think they are acting in good will, have so distracted them that they can't picture others as having normal human needs any more, both when they are inside and outside the framework created (this has happened in some movements, mirroring one of the trends in the Church at large over the centuries).
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