Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Nature and Grace: The Role of Reason in the Life of Faith

St. Thomas' view of reason:
Reason should minister to faith, that is, serve faith. How does it do this? The simple answer is that it engages in theological science. Theology has many functions. It clarifies first principles and strictly distinguishes them from the conclusions drawn from faith. It removes apparent absurdities and obstacles to faith. It raises and seeks to answer questions that believers might have. It clarifies the content of faith and so gives the believer a detailed account of what he believes. It generates plausible but erroneous or at least partially true opinions in order to expose their shortcomings. In this way, it staves off various heresies. Theology inculcates in believers the habit of thinking clearly about the most important thing in their lives. It serves as a check on emotionality and sentiment, which tend to warp our judgment and lead us astray in matters of faith. Finally, it is a check on self-appointed reformers within the Church, who seek to remake sacred doctrine in the image of their own ideologies, whether theological, social, political, or economic.
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