Monday, September 21, 2015

“Faith” from Back to Virtue by Peter Kreeft (pg.72-73)

"Faith is first. But what is it? It is not mere belief, or mere trust, though it includes both. Belief is an intellectual matter (I believe the sun will shine tomorrow; I believe I am in good health; I believe the textbooks). Trust is an emotional matter (I trust my psychiatrist, or my surgeon, or my architect). Faith is more. It flows from the heart, the center of the person, the prefunctional root out of which both the intellectual and the emotional branches grow. Faith is the yea-saying of the I, the commitment of the person. 

The object of faith is God, not ideas about God. It is essential to know things about God, but it is more essential to know God. Saint Thomas Aquinas, that most rational (not the same as rationalistic) of theologians, insists that ‘the primary object of the act of faith is not a proposition but a reality’, God himself…. The creedal truths about him are a description of faith, a defining, a statement of structure. The creeds are like accounting books, God is like the actual money. 

Though the root of faith is not intellectual, its fruit is. ‘Faith seeing understanding’, fides quarens intellectum - this was the operative slogan for a thousand years of Christian philosophy. ‘Unless you believe, you will not understand’ - faith first. But ‘in they light we see light’ - understanding follows. How accurately the saints knew God; how mistaken all the unbelieving geniuses were!

Faith is more active than reason. Faith runs ahead of reason. Reason reports, like a camera. Faith takes a stand, like an army. Faith is saying Yes to God’s marriage proposal. Faith is extremely simple. Saying anything ore would probably confuse it. Most of what is written about faith is needlessly complex. The word yes is the simplest word there is. "

Timothy George on Karl Barth as a "church theologian"

I enjoyed this article by Timothy George on Karl Barth. The whole article is good and worth reading, I especially enjoyed the beginning note about Harvey Cox smuggling Barth's Dogmatics into the Soviet Union. Below is an excerpt from the article about Barth as a "church theologian": 

"Karl Barth was a churchly theologian. What does this mean? In the first place, it refers to the fact that, unlike the majority of professional theologians, both in his day and in ours, Barth did not possess an earned doctorate. This was obviously not from any lack of scholarly ability on his part, but rather from his prior decision to pursue pastoral ministry rather than an academic career. For twelve years Barth served as a pastor, first as a pastoral assistant at a German-speaking congregation in Geneva and then as pastor of the Swiss Reformed Church in Safenwil, a small industrial town in the Aargau. Barth’s distinctive theology emerged out of his pastoral struggles. What does the preacher say to the waiting congregation every Sunday morning? How dare he say anything at all? This tension between the preacher’s duty to speak for God, on behalf of God, and the enormous presumption, indeed the impossibility, of doing so is at the very root of Barth’s theological discovery. He once put it like this: “We ought to speak of God. We are human, however, and so cannot speak of God. We ought therefore to recognize both our obligation and our inability and by that very recognition give God the glory.”
Barth’s theological training in the great liberal tradition of Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Harnack, and Hermann had not prepared him to deal with this dilemma, nor had his immersion in the Swiss version of the social gospel movement, an involvement which earned him the title “red pastor” for a while. Barth was haunted by the question King Zedekiah posed to Jeremiah long ago: “Is there any word from the Lord?” (Jer. 37:17). This question, which is every preacher’s question, propelled Barth back to the Holy Scriptures, where he discovered a new orientation for preaching and a new basis for theology.