RE: On Tillich

From: Rich Blinne (
Date: Tue May 27 2003 - 13:50:29 EDT

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    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On
    > Behalf Of John W Burgeson
    > Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 8:57 AM
    > To:
    > Cc:
    > Subject: Re: On Tillich

    > But the history of religion makes it clear this is not how it works. To
    > expect to have faith before embarking on the disciplines of the spiritual
    > life is like putting the cart before the horse. ...
    > Indeed, it is only since the Enlightenment that faith has been defined as
    > intellectual submission to a creed.

    That is not historically correct. Note the following from Anselm's Cur Deus
    Homo (Why the God-man?):

    "As the right order requires us to believe the deep things of Christian
    faith [profunda Christianae fidei] before we undertake to discuss them by
    reason; so to my mind it appears a neglect if, after we are established in
    the faith, we do not seek to understand what we believe. Therefore, since I
    thus consider myself to hold the faith of our redemption, by the prevenient
    grace of God, so that, even were I unable in any way to understand what I
    believe, still nothing could shake my constancy; I desire that you I should
    discover to me, what, as you know, many besides myself ask, for what
    necessity and cause God, who is omnipotent, should have assumed the
    littleness and weakness of human nature for the sake of its renewal?"

    Belief here was the belief in the doctrine of the necessity of the
    incarnartion and thus is an intellectual submission to a creed. So, it is
    an historical error to say that faith as defined as intellectual submission
    to a creed did not exist prior to the Enlightenment. For Anselm, faith was
    prior to reason: credo ut intelligam(I believe that I might understand).
    For the Scholastics that followed Anselm it was the the other way around:
    Intelligo ut credam (I understand that I might believe).

    Personally, I think it is a mistake to *absolutely* ground faith or reason
    in the other. It is more of a spiral where faith and reason feed each
    other. Note Jesus' answer to the request, "I believe, help my unbelief."
    [Mark 9:24] Jesus' answer to the request was the miracle of driving out the
    demons out of the father's son. He provided evidence which strengthened the
    father's belief. So, the order here was faith->reason->more faith.

    Even taking what I think is your definition that faith is exclusively
    believing IN and not believing THAT you still need to have some sort of
    modus vivendi between faith and reason. If you trust someone as trustworthy
    there must be some evidence that the person is worthy of your trust. Having
    trusted someone and then experiencing that the trust is well placed
    increases your reasons for trusting. Thus, you believe THAT the person is
    trustworthy. So, even starting with a "believing in" definition of faith it
    is unavoidable to have some "believing that" faith, also. While we may
    distinguish notional and fiducial faith, they should not be separated. The
    same with faith and reason. Let no man rend what God has joined together.

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