As we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Baby Jesus at Christmas, we are reminded of the critical importance of the Christian act of faith for peace and joy in this life, not to mention union with Jesus in the life to come. The following talk by Dr. Jamison, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Athenaeum of Ohio, was originally recorded for an audio CD introducing Athenaeum faculty members. This is its first public appearance in written form.
What Makes the Catholic Faith Catholic?
Deacon Tracy Jamison, OCDS, PhD
We can understand the Christian act of faith in the word of God on analogy to the natural act of faith in the word of a credible human person. This analogy is very helpful for understanding the necessary elements of a fully Christian act of faith. It should be obvious that an act of faith by its very nature involves an assent to a set of propositions. Just as a natural, human act of faith necessarily involves an assent to propositions, so also a supernatural, Christian act of faith necessarily involves an assent to propositions.
Now whenever someone indicates this fact about the nature of faith, typically someone else will hasten to point out that faith is not merely propositional. That qualification is always a very important point, one which was emphasized at great length by many theologians in the 20th century, but we must also recognize that faith is necessarily propositional even though it is not merely propositional. Propositional truth is a necessary condition for faith, but of course it is not a sufficient condition for faith. We should not attempt to reduce Christian faith to just a set of propositions, but on pain of consistency we must admit that any act of faith necessarily involves giving assent to a particular set of propositions.
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