Re: On Tillich

From: George Murphy (
Date: Sat May 24 2003 - 09:44:58 EDT

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    Howard J. Van Till wrote:
    > >From: John W Burgeson <>
    > > I had said my books were packed away for the move, but I was mistaken;
    > > Tillich's DYNAMICS OF FAITH was still on my night table. Here are a few
    > > passages from this book -- a primary source on Tillich:
    > >
    > > "Reason is the precondition of faith; faith is the act in which reason
    > > reaches ecstatically beyond itself. ... Reason is not bound to its own
    > > finitude. It is aware of it and, in so doing, rises above it." (Pg. 87)
    > >
    > > "Reason can be fulfilled only if it is driven beyond the limits of its
    > > finitude, and experiences the presence of the ultimate, the holy." (Pg.
    > > 88)
    > Some discussion re the character of faith has followed from this.
    > A couple of years ago Marcus Borg preached a sermon in our church titled:
    > "The Meaning of Faith: Relationship, Not Belief."
    > In this sermon he distinguished among several ways in which the word 'faith'
    > is employed. These could be helpful in clarifying some of this discussion.
    > As I recall, his distinctions were:
    > 1) faith as assensus -- to give mental assent to the truth of some
    > statement.
    > 2) faith as fidelitas -- to be faithful to a relationship.
    > 3) faith as fiducia -- to trust in God -- not in mere statements about God,
    > but in God.
    > 4) faith as visio -- a way of seeing the whole of reality
    > I believe -- "credo" -- means, "I give my heart to .... "
    > "Believing" could mean "beloving" -- assuring fidelity, practicing trust,
    > seeing life positively.

            Alternatively, one can speak about the _components_ of faith. The traditional
    analysis sees 3: /notitia/ the knowledge of what is to be believed, /assensus/, assent
    to its truth, and /fiducia/, trust. All 3 components have traditionally been seen
    as necessary for "saving faith" in the Christian tradition. This is admittedly oriented
    to a propositional understanding of religious truth, but the fact that the 3d element is
    crucial at least partially transcends such a view. OTOH, simply trusting in you know
    not what is inadequate.
            I question whether it's helpful to speaking about "believing" as "beloving."
    Genuine faith - in the above sense - is indeed to be "active in love," but the
    distinctions between faith, hope, and love are worth making, at least for the purposes
    of theological analysis.


    George L. Murphy

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