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Read Summa Theologica Part III (Secunda Secundae) Part 3

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_On the contrary,_ The symbol was drawn up by a general council. Now such a council cannot be convoked otherwise than by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, as stated in the Decretals [*Dist. xvii, Can.

4, 5]. Therefore it belongs to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff to draw up a symbol.

_I answer that,_ As stated above (Obj. 1), a new edition of the symbol becomes necessary in order to set aside the errors that may arise. Consequently to publish a new edition of the symbol belongs to that authority which is empowered to decide matters of faith finally, so that they may be held by all with unshaken faith. Now this belongs to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, “to whom the more important and more difficult questions that arise in the Church are referred,” as stated in the Decretals [*Dist. xvii, Can. 5]. Hence our Lord said to Peter whom he made Sovereign Pontiff (Luke 22:32): “I have prayed for thee,” Peter, “that thy faith fail not, and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” The reason of this is that there should be but one faith of the whole Church, according to 1 Cor. 1:10: “That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you”: and this could not be secured unless any question of faith that may arise be decided by him who presides over the whole Church, so that the whole Church may hold firmly to his decision.

Consequently it belongs to the sole authority of the Sovereign Pontiff to publish a new edition of the symbol, as do all other matters which concern the whole Church, such as to convoke a general council and so forth.

Reply Obj. 1: The truth of faith is sufficiently explicit in the teaching of Christ and the apostles. But since, according to 2 Pet.

3:16, some men are so evil-minded as to pervert the apostolic teaching and other doctrines and Scriptures to their own destruction, it was necessary as time went on to express the faith more explicitly against the errors which arose.

Reply Obj. 2: This prohibition and sentence of the council was intended for private individuals, who have no business to decide matters of faith: for this decision of the general council did not take away from a subsequent council the power of drawing up a new edition of the symbol, containing not indeed a new faith, but the same faith with greater explicitness. For every council has taken into account that a subsequent council would expound matters more fully than the preceding council, if this became necessary through some heresy arising. Consequently this belongs to the Sovereign Pontiff, by whose authority the council is convoked, and its decision confirmed.

Reply Obj. 3: Athanasius drew up a declaration of faith, not under the form of a symbol, but rather by way of an exposition of doctrine, as appears from his way of speaking. But since it contained briefly the whole truth of faith, it was accepted by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to be considered as a rule of faith. Since it contained briefly the whole truth of faith, it was accepted by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to be considered as a rule of faith.

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QUESTION 2

OF THE ACT OF FAITH (In Ten Articles)

We must now consider the act of faith, and (1) the internal act; (2) the external act.

Under the first head there are ten points of inquiry:

(1) What is “to believe,” which is the internal act of faith?

(2) In how many ways is it expressed?

(3) Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe in anything above natural reason?

(4) Whether it is necessary to believe those things that are attainable by natural reason?

(5) Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe certain things explicitly?

(6) Whether all are equally bound to explicit faith?

(7) Whether explicit faith in Christ is always necessary for salvation?

(8) Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe in the Trinity explicitly?

(9) Whether the act of faith is meritorious?

(10) Whether human reason diminishes the merit of faith?

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FIRST ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 1]

Whether to Believe Is to Think with a.s.sent?

Objection 1: It would seem that to believe is not to think with a.s.sent. Because the Latin word “cogitatio” [thought] implies a research, for “cogitare” [to think] seems to be equivalent to “coagitare,” i.e. “to discuss together.” Now Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv) that faith is “an a.s.sent without research.” Therefore thinking has no place in the act of faith.

Obj. 2: Further, faith resides in the reason, as we shall show further on (Q. 4, A. 2). Now to think is an act of the cogitative power, which belongs to the sensitive faculty, as stated in the First Part (Q. 78, A. 4). Therefore thought has nothing to do with faith.

Obj. 3: Further, to believe is an act of the intellect, since its object is truth. But a.s.sent seems to be an act not of the intellect, but of the will, even as consent is, as stated above (I-II, Q. 15, A.

1, ad 3). Therefore to believe is not to think with a.s.sent.

_On the contrary,_ This is how “to believe” is defined by Augustine (De Praedest. Sanct. ii).

_I answer that,_ “To think” can be taken in three ways. First, in a general way for any kind of actual consideration of the intellect, as Augustine observes (De Trin. xiv, 7): “By understanding I mean now the faculty whereby we understand when thinking.” Secondly, “to think” is more strictly taken for that consideration of the intellect, which is accompanied by some kind of inquiry, and which precedes the intellect’s arrival at the stage of perfection that comes with the cert.i.tude of sight. In this sense Augustine says (De Trin. xv, 16) that “the Son of G.o.d is not called the Thought, but the Word of G.o.d. When our thought realizes what we know and takes form therefrom, it becomes our word. Hence the Word of G.o.d must be understood without any thinking on the part of G.o.d, for there is nothing there that can take form, or be unformed.” In this way thought is, properly speaking, the movement of the mind while yet deliberating, and not yet perfected by the clear sight of truth.

Since, however, such a movement of the mind may be one of deliberation either about universal notions, which belongs to the intellectual faculty, or about particular matters, which belongs to the sensitive part, hence it is that “to think” is taken secondly for an act of the deliberating intellect, and thirdly for an act of the cogitative power.

Accordingly, if “to think” be understood broadly according to the first sense, then “to think with a.s.sent,” does not express completely what is meant by “to believe”: since, in this way, a man thinks with a.s.sent even when he considers what he knows by science [*Science is certain knowledge of a demonstrated conclusion through its demonstration.], or understands. If, on the other hand, “to think” be understood in the second way, then this expresses completely the nature of the act of believing. For among the acts belonging to the intellect, some have a firm a.s.sent without any such kind of thinking, as when a man considers the things that he knows by science, or understands, for this consideration is already formed. But some acts of the intellect have unformed thought devoid of a firm a.s.sent, whether they incline to neither side, as in one who “doubts”; or incline to one side rather than the other, but on account of some slight motive, as in one who “suspects”; or incline to one side yet with fear of the other, as in one who “opines.” But this act “to believe,” cleaves firmly to one side, in which respect belief has something in common with science and understanding; yet its knowledge does not attain the perfection of clear sight, wherein it agrees with doubt, suspicion and opinion. Hence it is proper to the believer to think with a.s.sent: so that the act of believing is distinguished from all the other acts of the intellect, which are about the true or the false.

Reply Obj. 1: Faith has not that research of natural reason which demonstrates what is believed, but a research into those things whereby a man is induced to believe, for instance that such things have been uttered by G.o.d and confirmed by miracles.

Reply Obj. 2: “To think” is not taken here for the act of the cogitative power, but for an act of the intellect, as explained above.

Reply Obj. 3: The intellect of the believer is determined to one object, not by the reason, but by the will, wherefore a.s.sent is taken here for an act of the intellect as determined to one object by the will.

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SECOND ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 2]

Whether the Act of Faith Is Suitably Distinguished As Believing G.o.d, Believing in a G.o.d and Believing in G.o.d?

Objection 1: It would seem that the act of faith is unsuitably distinguished as believing G.o.d, believing in a G.o.d, and believing in G.o.d. For one habit has but one act. Now faith is one habit since it is one virtue. Therefore it is unreasonable to say that there are three acts of faith.

Obj. 2: Further, that which is common to all acts of faith should not be reckoned as a particular kind of act of faith. Now “to believe G.o.d” is common to all acts of faith, since faith is founded on the First Truth. Therefore it seems unreasonable to distinguish it from certain other acts of faith.

Obj. 3: Further, that which can be said of unbelievers, cannot be called an act of faith. Now unbelievers can be said to believe in a G.o.d. Therefore it should not be reckoned an act of faith.

Obj. 4: Further, movement towards the end belongs to the will, whose object is the good and the end. Now to believe is an act, not of the will, but of the intellect. Therefore “to believe in G.o.d,” which implies movement towards an end, should not be reckoned as a species of that act.

_On the contrary_ is the authority of Augustine who makes this distinction (De Verb. Dom., Serm. lxi–Tract. xxix in Joan.).

_I answer that,_ The act of any power or habit depends on the relation of that power or habit to its object. Now the object of faith can be considered in three ways. For, since “to believe” is an act of the intellect, in so far as the will moves it to a.s.sent, as stated above (A. 1, ad 3), the object of faith can be considered either on the part of the intellect, or on the part of the will that moves the intellect.

If it be considered on the part of the intellect, then two things can be observed in the object of faith, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 1). One of these is the material object of faith, and in this way an act of faith is “to believe in a G.o.d”; because, as stated above (ibid.) nothing is proposed to our belief, except in as much as it is referred to G.o.d. The other is the formal aspect of the object, for it is the medium on account of which we a.s.sent to such and such a point of faith; and thus an act of faith is “to believe G.o.d,” since, as stated above (ibid.) the formal object of faith is the First Truth, to Which man gives his adhesion, so as to a.s.sent for Its sake to whatever he believes.

Thirdly, if the object of faith be considered in so far as the intellect is moved by the will, an act of faith is “to believe in G.o.d.” For the First Truth is referred to the will, through having the aspect of an end.

Reply Obj. 1: These three do not denote different acts of faith, but one and the same act having different relations to the object of faith.

This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection.

Reply Obj. 3: Unbelievers cannot be said “to believe in a G.o.d” as we understand it in relation to the act of faith. For they do not believe that G.o.d exists under the conditions that faith determines; hence they do not truly imply believe in a G.o.d, since, as the Philosopher observes (Metaph. ix, text. 22) “to know simple things defectively is not to know them at all.”

Reply Obj. 4: As stated above (I-II, Q. 9, A. 1) the will moves the intellect and the other powers of the soul to the end: and in this respect an act of faith is “to believe in G.o.d.”

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THIRD ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 3]

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