My questions on the theology of faith

I have been doing a lot of reading on the theology of faith, but none of the texts I have consulted have helped me in answering my questions. They provide a broad understanding of faith, but the particulars of faith are only given a tantalizingly brief study. It is in the particulars of faith where my questions are directed. There is also the problem that they take for granted a reading audience that is familiar with Aristotelian and Scholastic language and philosophy.

I hope CAF will be able help me with my questions.

  1. How does baptism relate to faith?

  2. Can an unbaptized person have theological faith?

  3. If faith presupposes the use of reason to see the truth of the praeambula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, what about infant baptism? Infants have no reasoning ability, yet baptism gives them the virtue of faith somehow. Perhaps my understanding of baptism’s relation to faith is incorrect?

  4. Once a baptized infant reaches the age of reason, then what? Does he have to make an act of faith after seeing the truth of Catholicism? What happens in the mean time to his faith until he has that intellectual vision?

  5. Suppose he receives no religious education and, therefore, does not acquire the certitude of the truth of Catholicism that theological faith presupposes. He becomes a secularist. At this point, is he an apostate? For he abandoned a faith that he, apparently, truly had because of his baptism.

  6. Since not everyone has the time or intellectual ability to grasp the truth of the praembula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, how are they supposed to come to faith? How are they supposed to come to the certitude that theological faith demands?

6b) Many theological manuals say that the masses, having not the time or intellectual ability to scientifically investigation the grounds for faith, will have prudent cause to believe anyway on the authority of another. We do this all the time in other sciences - we trust authorities. However, how could that ever provide the sure and certain basis that theological faith requires?

  1. Let’s say a Catholic says he has faith but for lousy reasons. For irrational reasons. Does this person have theological faith? In other words, can the assent of faith be made with irrational motives?

8)What is the relationship between doubt and faith? If a person doubts, does that person have faith? If faith requires certitude of the praembula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, how can a person, after having acquired this certitude, ever doubt?

  1. What is the relationship between the will and faith? What does it mean for the will to move the intellect to faith?

  2. What is the relationship between mortal sin and faith?

The answers to these question can easily lead to other questions. If anyone would like tackle one, please do.

Did not Michael answer these points to satisfaction when you posted this in Feser’s blog? edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/01/point-of-contact.html I thought that was more than enough.

No. Take, for example, his answer on infant baptism. I understand that in those who have not reached the age of reason, the “character” of baptism, as he calls it, does not require their cooperation for it to be efficacious. But that does nothing to answer my question about how to understand the nature of that faith. All he is really saying is, “Yes, infants are a special case.” That is not helpful at all. And what does it mean for something to be infused into the soul, anyway?

What does the word infused mean? If I infuse my voice with humor, I am filling it with it. I am making it a part of it. To be infused in your soul means to make it a part of your soul, an indelible mark. God isn’t limited by time. He doesn’t need us to baptize on our time line. Neither did he need the Hebrews to wait till a child was old enough to understand why they were circumcising their penis. :shrug:

I’m going to stew over the entirety of the subject before trying to answer, as my Thomism has been mainly directed towards cosmology, henology, teleology, and epistemology. I’ll give you the sources of what I’ll study over time: newadvent.org/summa/4068.htm (Article 8 and 9), newadvent.org/summa/3.htm (all of the “faith” section) and newadvent.org/cathen/05752c.htm.

As long as we are sharing sources :smiley: :

A Manual of Catholic Theology based on Scheeben’s Dogmatik Volume 1
A Theology of Faith
Faith and Revealed Truth
Fides Et Ratio

I have more, but these are the only ones that are free and online.

[quote=bmullins]What does the word infused mean? If I infuse my voice with humor, I am filling it with it. I am making it a part of it. To be infused in your soul means to make it a part of your soul, an indelible mark. God isn’t limited by time. He doesn’t need us to baptize on our time line. Neither did he need the Hebrews to wait till a child was old enough to understand why they were circumcising their penis.
[/quote]

That is a simple enough explanation of what infusion means, thank you. I probably need to explore it more before I am satisfied, though. In any case, I am afraid I’m not any closer to understanding infusion in this special case.

Faith, as I understand it, presupposes the use of reason so that believers can make an authentic act of faith (with God’s grace, of course) after having seen for themselves that the praembula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis lead one to the Church. Otherwise, an authentic act of faith would not be possible since the believer would not be submitting himself in trust to God but, rather, to some abstraction, making the “act of faith” a self-centered perversion. At least, that is my understanding so far, and I could be wrong.

Now, what could it possibly mean for faith to be infused in the soul of the infant? It seems to require a new understanding of faith that does not presuppose reason or an understanding that is implicit or virtual, which does not make much sense to me given that an infusion is supposed to be explicit and real.

The reason I am so interested, btw, in this topic is because faith is the beginning of the Christian life. A correct understanding of faith - of what it presupposes; of how it develops; of how it may be lost; of what it obligates; and where it leads - is really like having a guide to Christianity. With this guide, you can know where you stand with respect to faith, understand how you got there, and then be able to take steps to do what you need to grow in faith or to “get” faith if you do not have it. Imagine if every apologist were armed with this information. He can better see where the people whom he is evangelizing are at with respect to faith and be able to improve on his strategy based on that information.

Just a side thought, is it not possible that the child is able to understand God in a way that you and I have trouble with precisely because we are adults? God being God is perfectly able to present himself in a way that the child (heart, soul and mind) completely understands what it is undertaking, though his rational brain may have to catch up to his ‘soul’. That’s what confirmation is all about.

I’ll admit that this thread is probably going to be over my head but I will take a stab at some of your questions and maybe learn a few things along the way…

  1. How does baptism relate to faith?

Baptisim gives you and infusion of grace which allows one to help respond to God in terms of faith.

  1. Can an unbaptized person have theological faith?

I would say they can through reason.

  1. If faith presupposes the use of reason to see the truth of the praeambula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, what about infant baptism?

Why do you think this is a necessary presupposition? I don’t think that you always have to use reason to bring you faith. For instance, you have many people who say “I feel this is right” etc… This is a largely irrational statement but still affords them the ability to have faith.

Infants have no reasoning ability, yet baptism gives them the virtue of faith somehow.

I would disagree, baptisim gives them grace which helps them respond to God, hopefully manifesting itself in faith. Therefore they need no reasoning ablilty at this point.

Perhaps my understanding of baptism’s relation to faith is incorrect?

I would say it is if you say baptism brings about faith rather than grace.

  1. Once a baptized infant reaches the age of reason, then what? Does he have to make an act of faith after seeing the truth of Catholicism? What happens in the mean time to his faith until he has that intellectual vision?

If the child reaches the age of reason then he can reason out the call of God for them. This again is given through grace and how one chooses to respond to that Grace. If you see the “truth of Catholicism” then inherit in that is already a faith as you are responding to a call from God. In the meantime, maybe they “feel” the faith until they can soundly reason its truths.

  1. Suppose he receives no religious education and, therefore, does not acquire the certitude of the truth of Catholicism that theological faith presupposes. He becomes a secularist. At this point, is he an apostate? For he abandoned a faith that he, apparently, truly had because of his baptism.

Again no, because baptism doesn’t give faith but bestows grace. Even people that do not know the truth of Catholicsim because of never having been taught can still receive graces and in effect be of God

  1. Since not everyone has the time or intellectual ability to grasp the truth of the praembula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, how are they supposed to come to faith? How are they supposed to come to the certitude that theological faith demands?

Please define these terms as I think I know what you are asking but am not 100% sure.
And would like to know more of what you mean before I attempt a response.

6b) Many theological manuals say that the masses, having not the time or intellectual ability to scientifically investigation the grounds for faith, will have prudent cause to believe anyway on the authority of another. We do this all the time in other sciences - we trust authorities. However, how could that ever provide the sure and certain basis that theological faith requires?

It can because just because you can’t understand it or take the time to understand it doesn’t mean that someone else can’t. Meaning that there is someone external who can verify the truths. Therefore you can accept as true, if you choose to trust the source, of something that someone else can verify as true.

  1. Let’s say a Catholic says he has faith but for lousy reasons. For irrational reasons. Does this person have theological faith? In other words, can the assent of faith be made with irrational motives?

I would say you can assent to anything regardless of how irrational or rational the reasons. Sometimes you can reach the correct conclusion by taking the wrong path. I don’t know if I would call this theological faith though.

8)What is the relationship between doubt and faith? If a person doubts, does that person have faith? If faith requires certitude of the praembula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, how can a person, after having acquired this certitude, ever doubt?

Yes a person can have doubts and have faith. For example, what if you have faith that God will take your doubts away? And after acquiring certitude how can a person ever doubt — I would say life if fluid, new thoughts, new challenges arise, new ways of looking at things come up. We have free will, we can choose to ignore certain aspects or pick parts of truths. We can be decieved away from our truths. By picking parts of truths you have less than total truth. Without totality do you not leave room for doubt?

  1. What is the relationship between the will and faith? What does it mean for the will to move the intellect to faith?

For me that simply is willing yourself to learn about the faith. You use your intellect to then deduce what is true and what is not. You use your intellect to help you judge.

  1. What is the relationship between mortal sin and faith?

Can you expand on this question. Short answer would be that mortal sin contributes to the destruction of faith by allowing you to not be able to respond to god’s Graces given you.

[quote=PermanentMarker]The reason I am so interested, btw, in this topic is because faith is the beginning of the Christian life. A correct understanding of faith - of what it presupposes; of how it develops; of how it may be lost; of what it obligates; and where it leads - is really like having a guide to Christianity. With this guide, you can know where you stand with respect to faith, understand how you got there, and then be able to take steps to do what you need to grow in faith or to “get” faith if you do not have it. Imagine if every apologist were armed with this information. He can better see where the people whom he is evangelizing are at with respect to faith and be able to improve on his strategy based on that information.
[/quote]

I think you are perhaps over thinking this. For one thing, even with whatever answer you are seeking, an apologist would not have a silver bullet for convincing unbelievers. John Henry Newman refers often to antecedent probability. This is the preponderance of evidence that goes into everyone’s foundation for what they hold as certain. He also discusses first principles. These are concepts that are believed without question, and even underlie antecedent probability. So because of these infinite variables, no apologist however brilliant, will ever be able to convince anyone that is not already predisposed to that apologist’s line of reasoning. Some sort of sharing of common ground IOW.

For a very fine read on Faith, certitude and reason, try looking into “A Grammar of Assent” by John Henry Newman. This subject was singularly fascinating to him. He lays out the various stages of reason and faith very coherently.

I agree that the success of apologetics depends on a sense of good will on the part of those being evangelized. Certainly, though, knowing where they stand with respect to faith will be an enormous advantage in deciding what arguments and strategies to use. That is all I am saying, and it seems to me reasonable and obvious.

Hey, DJK100. Thank you for taking the time to contribute, but as you may have already guessed, your answers suffer a bit from a lack of familiarity with the theology of faith. That being said, I suffer from that, too, so we’re in the same boat! :stuck_out_tongue: I recommend reading the sources I posted earlier in the thread.

I will bump this thread later tonight with some new questions I have. If nothing else, this thread will be my opportunity to put down in writing all of the questions I have as opposed to have them swirling around in my mind.

Permanment Marker said,"Certainly, though, knowing where they stand with respect to faith will be an enormous advantage in deciding what arguments and strategies to use. "

It sounds as though you are approaching the gift of faith as tho it is different in each person who receives faith, as in “where they stand”. But the gift of faith is not different, it is the same gift looking as tho it were different because of the truths the person accepts or denies.

This depends on knowledge, not faith. Faith is a power, ability to say 'Yes" to a truth revealed by God, thru various ways; Bible, Church, Tradition. Lack of knowledge is the reason the person says “no” to a truth revealed. Does the Protestant and Catholic have the same faith? Yes. But some have more knowledge, or truth, than others. It is all the same gift. When Jesus asked Peter, “who do you say I am?” And Peter said, “You are the living God.” Then Jesus said,“Blessed are you …, for my Father in heaven has revealed this to you.”

The reason the church requires reassurance at the baptism of a baby’s future training in this child’s faith, is Knowledge. Faith cannot be expressed without knowledge. Ignorance of revealed truth means that faith in the person is being limited and is only expressed partially.

Now this does not answer all that surrounds this subject, but hopefully this may help is some way.

I must admit I’ve never heard of a school of thought called “the theology of the faith”. Are you just discussing Christian theology, or is this actually some sort of Christian theology movement specifically regarding faith?

1) How does baptism relate to faith?
Baptism is an act of the will IN faith, which then serves as a channel of grace in our lives, and that grace may in turn inspire us to grow in faith.

2) Can an unbaptized person have theological faith?
I don’t see why not.

3) If faith presupposes the use of reason to see the truth of the praeambula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, what about infant baptism? Infants have no reasoning ability, yet baptism gives them the virtue of faith somehow. Perhaps my understanding of baptism’s relation to faith is incorrect?
Baptism gives them grace, which can assist in compelling them towards faith later. Baptism doesn’t instantly confer faith on the person, because faith is an act of the person.

4) Once a baptized infant reaches the age of reason, then what? Does he have to make an act of faith after seeing the truth of Catholicism? What happens in the mean time to his faith until he has that intellectual vision?
He should grow up with the faith of a child, unassuming and obedient. Raised properly, he will grow into adult faith slowly. We make an act of faith every time we receive the sacraments, so I guess the answer to that part of the question is “yes”.

5) Suppose he receives no religious education and, therefore, does not acquire the certitude of the truth of Catholicism that theological faith presupposes. He becomes a secularist. At this point, is he an apostate? For he abandoned a faith that he, apparently, truly had because of his baptism.
He’s an apostate SORT OF, but because of his invincible ignorance due to lack of education, he’s probably not culpable for that mortal sin. And he’s not “abandoning faith” from baptism, he’s turning his back on God’s grace that was given him in baptism. The trick is on him though, Baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul, and he will constantly have grace working to call him to reconsider :rolleyes:

6) Since not everyone has the time or intellectual ability to grasp the truth of the praembula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, how are they supposed to come to faith? How are they supposed to come to the certitude that theological faith demands?

I’m at a bit of a loss as to why you think faith involves certitude… I think Dinnesh D’Souza put’s this better than I do, so I’ll paraphrase him:

Faith is a statement of “I believe”. If it invovled certitude, it would be emperically provable and we wouldn’t say this. I don’t say “I believe my brother exists”, I’ve met him, I say “I know my brother exists.”

So where are you deriving the idea that there NEEDS to be certitude of faith? I mean, when we look at the philosophical construct of “the passion of the faith”, the very opposite is posited: that the greater we become in faith and knowledge, the LESS certain knowledge becomes as a final solution, and thus the stronger faith we must grow.

6b) Many theological manuals say that the masses, having not the time or intellectual ability to scientifically investigation the grounds for faith, will have prudent cause to believe anyway on the authority of another. We do this all the time in other sciences - we trust authorities. However, how could that ever provide the sure and certain basis that theological faith requires?

In order to determine that the catholic church is right, I need only one sentence:
“He who hears you, hears me”

I believe that Jesus said this. There’s enough historical evidence for it at any rate, and I believe that Jesus was God. If I believe that, then I must believe that His church is here and speaks infallibly as His voice on earth. Why wouldn’t I trust that authority?

As to the theory I mentioned above, the Passion of Faith, it is our Christian duty to grow in knowledge of the church, so we increase our empirical certitude when we do so, but failing that, faith is still and always remains the bridge of belief… not certitude, but faith.

7) Let’s say a Catholic says he has faith but for lousy reasons. For irrational reasons. Does this person have theological faith? In other words, can the assent of faith be made with irrational motives?

What is faith for lousy reasons? You mean like saying you have faith SOLELY because of Paschal’s wager?

Yeah, sure, that’s not real faith, that’s externally stating that you’re hedging your bets even though you don’t buy it as true and a belief.

Irrational motives are altogether different… someone might have faith because their bowl of cereal told them to, but the end result is no different.

8)What is the relationship between doubt and faith? If a person doubts, does that person have faith? If faith requires certitude of the praembula fidei and the motiva credibilitatis, how can a person, after having acquired this certitude, ever doubt?
Doubt is a matter of empirical knowledge, thus doubt is essential to the faith. The TRULY faithful is the ultimate skeptic :smiley:

9) What is the relationship between the will and faith? What does it mean for the will to move the intellect to faith?
We choose what we want to believe all the time. Faith is an act of the will.

10) What is the relationship between mortal sin and faith?
I would say tenuous at best. I sin because I am weak, not because I don’t believe. Now, if I’m living a life of no good works, then I have dead faith, but I still may have faith (“even the devils believe and tremble” as the book of James puts it)

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