Faith-Knowledge: Truth Centered on an Encounter with God

Thus we can understand why, together with hearing and seeing, Saint John can speak of faith as touch, as he says in his First Letter: "What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life" (1 Jn. 1:1). By his taking flesh and coming among us, Jesus has touched us, and through the sacraments he continues to touch us even today... (LF, 31)

In venturing deeper on the subject of faith and reason, Francis notes that faith brings light to all the reasonable questions of our time, be they subjective or objective. Truth is solid, apolitical, and more sublime than partisan ideas: we do not possess truth—it possesses us! Truth creates unity, not division.

Truth nowadays is often reduced to the subjective authenticity of the individual, valid only for the life of the individual. A common truth intimidates us, for we identify it with... totalitarian systems. But if truth is a truth of love, if it is a truth disclosed in personal encounter with the Other and with others, then it can be set free from its enclosure in individuals and become part of the common good. As a truth of love, it is not one that can be imposed by force; it is not a truth that stifles the individual. Since it is born of love, it can penetrate to the heart, to the personal core of each man and woman. Clearly, then, faith... grows in respectful coexistence with others. One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all. (LF, 34)

Lumen Fidei circumvents arguments that pit religion against science, suggesting that faith lights up a third way. Religion and science need not denounce the other. Indeed, far from being anti-science, faith's inherent openness to truth is a boon to scientific inquiry.

[The light of faith] also illumines the material world, trusts its inherent order and knows that it calls us to an ever widening path of harmony and understanding. The gaze of science thus benefits from faith: faith encourages the scientist to remain constantly open to reality in all its inexhaustible richness. Faith awakens the critical sense by preventing research from being satisfied with its own formulae and helps it to realize that nature is always greater. By stimulating wonder before the profound mystery of creation, faith broadens the horizons of reason to shed greater light on the world which discloses itself to scientific investigation. (LF, 34)

Faith is a light to all questions and all quests; it is a way for all.

There is no human experience, no journey of man to God, which cannot be taken up, illumined and purified by this light. The more Christians immerse themselves in the circle of Christ's light, the more capable they become of understanding and accompanying the path of every man and woman towards God. (LF, 35)

Finally, Chapter Two describes how the light of faith applies to the field of theology. Faith must be present both in the theologian and in his or her methodologies, in service to the faithful and the Church at large.

Clearly, theology is impossible without faith; it is part of the very process of faith, which seeks an ever deeper understanding of God's self-disclosure culminating in Christ. It follows that theology is more than simply an effort of human reason to analyze and understand, along the lines of the experimental sciences. God cannot be reduced to an object. He is a subject who makes himself known and perceived in an interpersonal relationship... for [God] is an eternal dialogue of communion, and he allows us to enter into this dialogue.

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Theology must be at the service of the faith of Christians, that it must work humbly to protect and deepen the faith of everyone, especially ordinary believers.

This chapter boldly builds on the previous themes from the Introduction and Chapter One: that faith gives new eyes to see reality. Chapter Two suggests, besides illuminating the obvious—God and religion—faith has the power to make all things and all situations in life intelligible and meaningful.

Want to study Lumen Fidei for yourself or with a group? Check out Jared Dees' new study guide on Lumen Fidei, available from Ave Maria Press.

9/26/2013 4:00:00 AM