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doubt, a line of thought natural to Alexandrian idealism.

The Epistle of St. James contains an energetic protest

* Du Bose, High Priesthood and Sacrifice, pp. 224-6 (abridged).
Augustine, Ad 1 Jh., Tract. 7 ; Westcott on Heb. xi. 27.


against the notion that * Faith,' whether understood as
mere fiducia or mere orthodoxy, is of any saving value
without ' works ' consistency of life. He uses ' Faith '
in a narrower sense than St. Paul, and insists passionately
on what to St. Paul would have been a truism, that Faith
must be known by its fruit. St. James was a moralist, and
would have agreed with Matthew Arnold that conduct is
all but an insignificant fraction of human life. The protest
w^as needed, but it does not touch St. Paul or his teaching.
It is not even certain that the author of this epistle, who-
ever he was, was thinking of St. Paul's teaching on the
subject. The relation of Faith and works was a standing
thesis for discussion in Jewish schools, and naturally was
also debated by Christians. 1 But though there is no
contradiction between St. Paul and St. James, the protests
of the latter do touch some post-Reformation teaching
about Faith. We cannot be surprised either at Luther's
contemptuous judgment of this epistle, or at his subse-
quent acknowledgment that he had spoken too hastily.

St. James's real meaning is well brought out by the
eloquent Julius Hare, 2 whose discourses on Faith ought
never to be forgotten by English theologians. l Faith"
without works is a dead Faith, not a living, a nominal
Faith, not a real, the shadow of Faith, not the substance.
And why is this, except because Faith, if it be living, if it
be real, if it be substantial, is a practical principle, a
practical power ; nay, of all principles, of all powers, by
which man can be actuated, the most practical ; so that
when it does not show forth its life by good works, we may
reasonably conclude that it is dead ; just as we infer that
a body is dead when it has ceased to move, or that a tree
is dead when it puts forth no leaves.' 3


1 See Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 157 seq. ; Sanday and Headlazn, Romans t
pp. 104-6. The Jewish discussions were based on Gen. xv. 6.

1 Hare, The Victory of Faith and other Sermons, p. 36.

8 The use of iriffrts in 1 and 2 Peter, and in Jude, is not important for this
discussion. See Sanday and Headlam, Romans, p. 36.


In the Acts of the Apostles, Wo-ris and Trto-revtiv occur
very frequently. With the definite article, TTLO-TIS means
the Christian faith (ch. vi. 7 ; xiii. 8 ; xvi. 5 ; xxiv. 24).
On the other hand, rrkrjprjs mVrew? means ' full of enthu-
siasm and strength based on Faith in Jesus Christ ' (vi. 5 ;
xi. 24). 'Faith in the Lord Jesus,' in the Acts, involves
mainly belief in His resurrection and exaltation, and in
1 the forgiveness of sins ' (v. 30, 31). Profession of this
Faith is followed at once by baptism (xvi. 31-33). Sanctify-
ing Faith (xv. 2 ; xxvi. 18) must be distinguished from this
first impulse to become a believer. Contrast the past
tense in xiv. 23 ; xviii. 27 ; xix. 2 with the present in
ii. 44 ; xxii. 19.

It remains to consider the teaching of the Fourth Gospel
about Faith. Let us assume that this treatise was written
between 100 and 120 A.D., and that, though it is based on
genuine recollections or traditions of our Lord's teaching,
it was written with the special design of offering a certain
presentation and doctrine of the Person of Christ, as a
solution of doubts and controversies which pressed for
settlement at the beginning of the second century.

We have seen that the author of 'the Epistle to the
Hebrews has his own presentation of Faith to offer to the
world. Steeped in Alexandrian philosophy, which called
men to ' flee hence to our dear country/ he conceives of
Faith as life in the eternal order, in the heaven which is
all around us if we could only see it, and dilates on the
heroism which should be the fruit of this heavenly vision.
The writer was a scholar and thinker, and he has written
for the scholars and thinkers of all time. St. John (I will
keep the traditional name without raising the question
of .authorship) writes for a wider circle. The Church at
the end of the first century was already distracted by the
beginnings of the movement known as Gnosticism. It is
true that the great Gnostics of the first half of the second
century were outside the Church, and only half Christian.


But within the Christian societies a party of knowledge
and a party of Faith contended against each other. St.
Paul's enthusiastic praises of growing knowledge (carfyvaxris)
had encouraged the professors of knowledge ' falsely so
called ' (^evSwi/vjuos y^wo-is, 1 Tim. vi. 20) to graft their
barbarised Platonism on Christianity, even in the lifetime
of the Apostle (Col. ii. 6-9). On the other side, the party
of bare Faith (t/aAr) irurns) had already come to deserve
the taunts of the educated pagans. Faith, for them, was
not a moral, but an anti-intellectual principle. They said,
as Celsus tells us about the Christians of his own generation,

'Do not inquire, only believe' (p) eera(e, aXXaTria-reva-ov).

And their belief was of a childish, apocalyptic character, full
of miracles and dreams of a coming reign of the saints. In
fact, the situation which St. Paul already discerned was
now clearly defined. ' The Jews require miracles ; the
Greeks metaphysics.' St. John, even more fully than St.
Paul, presents both with ' Christ the power of God and the
wisdom of God ' (1 Cor. i. 22-24).

St. John studiously avoids the two catchwords yvwo-i?
and TTio-Ti?, and uses only the verbs, which really agree
better with the essentially dynamic character of Faith and
knowledge in his theology. He tells us frankly that his
object in writing is that his readers may ' believe ' that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they
may have life through His name. Faith in the Person of
Christ is everywhere central in this Gospel ; and he teaches
us, by various indications, what Faith is. He uses iria-reveiv
with five constructions. It is used absolutely ; with the
dative ; with eis ; with s TO ovopa. and with on.
Origen distinguishes ' believing on the name of Christ ' as a
lower grade of Faith than believing on Christ Himself.
This sounds over-subtle, but is probably correct. To
believe on the name of Christ has special reference to the
public confession of Faith at baptism. ' They that believe
on His name ' (i. 12 ; ii. 23) practically means ' baptized

22 FAITH [ca

Christians.' l The office attributed to the Holy Ghost in
our catechism that of ' sanctifying all the elect people of
God ' is quite Johannine. In ch. i. 7 we have, ' John
came to bear witness to the Light, that all men through
him might believe.' This shows that Faith is the trust
of those who see things as they are, and not blind credulity.
Nathaniel ' believes ' that Christ is the Son of God and
King of Israel, through a sign : Christ promises him a more
spiritual basis for a higher kind of belief. In iii. 16-21, the
evangelist's comment on the discourse with Nicodemus,
we have Faith opposed to rebellion or disloyalty (for this
is the Biblical sense of aireiOeii'), and thus we get a nearer
determination of Faith as including obedience and loyalty.
In the discourse about the Bread of Life, in ch. vi., the
persistent demands of the Jews for a sign are rebuked by our
Lord : ' Ye have seen Me, and yet believe not ' ; and their
question, ' What must we do, that we may work the works
of God ? ' is met by the remarkable declaration, * This is
the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He sent.'
Personal devotion includes the ' works of God,' and these
works will never be done without it. In xii. 44 Christ
says, * He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but
on Him that sent Me.' Faith in Christ and Faith in God
are identical ; but the former is the way to the latter.
Those who seek ' glory ' one from another, instead of the
glory that cometh from the only God (v. 44), cannot be-
lieve. In the last discourses there is less about believing,
and more about the peace and Joy to which Faith conducts.
In ch. xvii. Christ does not pray that His disciples may
' believe,' but for higher things. Lastly, in the all-import-
ant concluding words of ch. xx., Faith without sight
receives the last beatitude.

If we compare all the places where Trto-rcvetv is used in
St. John, we shall conclude, I think, that the two meaninga
of intellectual conviction and moral self-surrender are

1 Abbott, Johannine Vocabulary.


about equally emphasised. Faith is allegiance to Jesus J
Christ, and as such a condition of eternal life (i. 6 ; vi. 40),
which latter is also a progressive stage, depending on know-
ledge (xvii. 3) as well as Faith. * Believing is not a con-
summation or a goal, but a number of different stages, by
which different individuals pass towards the one Centre, in
whom they are to have life.' l Thus the rival claims of
Faith and Knowledge are reconciled, by lifting both into
a higher sphere, and fixing both on the Person of Christ.

In this short review of the development of the concept
* Faith ' in the Bible, I have tried to show how here, as in
other cases, there was a fusion of Jewish and Hellenic
modes of thought. At the end of the first century we find
Faith established as a characteristic Christian virtue or
temper, with a full and rich meaning. The Christians
called themselves ' Believers,' and spoke of ' the Faith '
without further specification of what they believed or
trusted in. But they were conscious that the word
included moral devotion and self-surrender to Christ, a
firm conviction that by uniting themselves to Him they
would find remission of sins and eternal salvation, and
intellectual conviction that certain divinely revealed facts /
are true.

* Abbott, Johannine Vocabulary*



(b) In the Church

IN order to form an adequate judgment on the meaning
of ' Faith ' in Christian theology, we must pursue our
investigation into the writings of Christian theologians.

The ' Apostolic Fathers ' do not yield us much in the
way of illustration, until we come to Ignatius. This writer
employs (Ep. ix.) a curious metaphor : * Ye were drawn
up on high by the cross of Christ, using the Holy Spirit as
a rope, while your faith was the means by which you
ascended, and your love the way which led you up to God.'
Here Faith is the motive force, love a kind of inclined plane.
In ch. xiv. of the same epistle he says : * Faith and love
towards Christ Jesus are the beginning and end of life.
The beginning is Faith, and the end is Love.' l We shall
find this delimitation of the provinces of Faith and Love
repeated more than once by Clement of Alexandria. Cf.
especially Strom, vii. 10 : ' Christ is both the foundation
and the superstructure, through whom are both the begin-
ning and the end. Faith is the beginning, Love the end.'
And ib. ii. 13 : * Faith leads the way ; Fear edifies ;
Love perfects.' There are signs even in the New Testa-
ment that this was an accepted maxim in the Church : in
2 Pet. i. 5-7, Faith and Love begin and end the list ; and
in 1 Tim. i. 5 we have, ' the end of the commandment is
Love.' So Hermas (iii. 8) has the following scheme:

1 Ct . also Smyrn. 6, ' Faith and love are everything.


* From Faith arises Self-restraint ; from Self-restraint,
Simplicity ; from Simplicity, Guilelessness ; from Guile-
lessness, Chastity ; from Chastity, Intelligence ; and from
Intelligence, Love.' The pedigree is silly enough ; but
the positions of Faith and Love are evidently fixed. 1

The writer of the Epistle to Diognetus has (ch. viii.) :
1 He has manifested Himself through Faith, to which alone
it is given to behold God.' Theophilus (i. 8) uses Faith as
equivalent to Trust, and argues that without Faith almost
all action would be impossible. In the Clementine Recogni-
tions (ii. 69), Peter is made to say, * It is not safe to commit
these things to bare Faith without Reason, since truth
cannot be without reason. He who has received truths
fortified by reason, can never lose them ; whereas he who
receives them without proofs, by simple assent, can neither
keep them safely, nor be sure that they are true. The more
anxious any man is in demanding a reason, the more secure
will he be in keeping his Faith.' This language reminds us
of the Cambridge Platonists, especially of Benjamin.
Whichcote, who says, ' When the doctrine of the Gospel
becomes the reason of our mind, it will be the principle of
our life.'

More interesting and important is the doctrine of Faith
in Clement of Alexandria, whom I have already quoted. 2
' Faith,' he says (Strom, ii. 2), 'which the Greeks disparage
as futile and barbarous, is a voluntary anticipation, the
assent of piety the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen, as the inspired Apostle says.
Others have defined Faith to be an uniting assent to an
unseen object. If then it be choice, the desire is in this
case intellectual, since it desires something. And since
choice is the beginning of action, Faith is the beginning of
action, being the foundation of rational choice, when a

1 Cf. a similar list in Hennas, ix. 15.

8 The second book of the Stromateis contains a full and very instructive
discussion of Faith.

26 FAITH [ca

man sets before himself, through Faith, the demonstration
which he anticipates. Voluntarily to follow what is useful
is the beginning of understanding it. Unswerving choice,
therefore, gives a great impetus towards knowledge. The
exercise of Faith at once becomes knowledge, built on a
sure foundation.'

The followers of Basilides, he proceeds, regard Faith as
a natural endowment, defining it as ' finding ideas by in-
tellectual comprehension without demonstration.' ' The
Valentinians assign Faith to us simple folk, but claim that
knowledge arises in themselves (who are saved by nature)
through the advantage of a germ of higher excellence,
saying that it is as far above faith as the spiritual is above
the animal.' To this Clement objects, as making Faith an
innate faculty and not a matter of rational choice. We
cannot justly be punished for lacking a power which is
given or withheld by external necessity ; and if this is the
true account, he who has not Faith cannot hope to acquire

First principles are incapable of demonstration. The
First Cause of the Universe can be apprehended by Faith
alone. For knowledge is a state of mind resulting from
demonstration ; but Faith is a grace which from what is
not demonstrable leads us to what is universal and simple.

We can learn nothing without a preconceived idea of
what we are aiming at ; Faith is such a preconception.
This is what the prophet meant when he said, ' Unless ye
believe, ye will not understand,' and what Heraclitus
meant when he said, ' If you do not hope, you will not find
what is beyond your hopes.'

The Basilidians (ch. vi.) define Faith to be the assent of
the soul to any of those things that are not present to the
senses. This assent is not supposition, but assent to some-
thing certain. Faith is the voluntary supposition and
anticipation of comprehension.

Faith must not be disparaged as simple and vulgar. * If


it grow, and there is no place where it is not, then I affirm
that Faith, whether founded in love or (as its disparagers
assert) in fear, is something divine. Love, by its alliance
with Faith, makes men believers ; and Faith, which is the
foundation of Love, in its turn introduces the doing of
good. Faith is the first movement towards salvation ;
after which fear and hope and repentance, in company with
temperance and patience, lead us on to love and knowledge.'
Knowledge (ch. xi.) is founded on Faith. But Faith is
also founded on knowledge, which may be defined as
* reason, producing Faith in what is disputed [by arguing]
from what is admitted.' There are two kinds of Faith,
one resting on science, the other on opinion. (Therefore,
it would seem, Faith is the condition of attaining know-
ledge, and knowledge, so far from superseding Faith, gives
it back transmuted into a higher form.) Obedience to the
commandments, which implies Faith or trust in God
(o tcrrt Trto-Teveiv TO) flew), 1 is a, mode of learning : and ' Faith
is a power of God, being the strength of truth.' (That is
to say, Faith is essentially progressive and dynamic ; it
has its proper activity in a certain energy of thought, will,
and action, which issues in an assurance of the truth,
based on knowledge and experience.)

* Fear is the beginning of love (ch. xii.). Fear develops
into Faith, and Faith into love.' (This is a remarkable
echo of the well-known ' Primus in orbe deos fecit timor ' of I
Statius and Petronius.) ' But I do not fear my Father as
I fear a wild beast ; I fear and love Him at once. Blessed, \
therefore, is he who has Faith, being compounded of love/- 1
and fear.'

In the fifth book of the Stromateis he returns to the
subject of Faith. What follows is an abridgment of his
argument. It is incorrect to say that Faith has reference
to the Son, and knowledge to the Spirit. We cannot so

1 So Clement of Eome makes the faith of Abraham consist in obedience
(ch. 10).

28 FAlTH [CH.

separate either the Persons of the Trinity, or Faith and

' Faith is the ear of the soul.' It admits of growth, as is
shown by Rom. i. 11, 17 ; Luke, xvii. 5. We must not,
with Basilides, regard it as 'a natural endowment, dis-
pensing with the rational assent of the self-determining
soul,' for then we should not have needed a Saviour. But
we do need revelation, and Faith accepts it. Nevertheless,
Faith always goes hand in hand with inquiry.

In the seventh book he speaks of Faith as a short cut
to perfection, by which the unlearned and ignorant may
outdistance him who is learned in the philosophy of the
Greeks. * Faith is a compendious knowledge of essentials,
while knowledge is a sure and firm demonstration of the
things received through Faith, carrying us on to unshaken
conviction and scientific certainty. There is a first kind
of saving change from heathenism to Faith, a second from
Faith to knowledge ; and knowledge, as it passes on into
love, begins at once to establish a mutual friendship be-
tween the knower and the known. Perhaps he who has
reached this stage is ' equal to the angels * (iVayyeAos,
Luke xx. 36.) Faith is preceded by admiration (ch. xi. 60),
which is thus the beginning of Faith, as Plato says it is the
beginning of philosophy. Compare the words attributed
to Christ : * He who wonders shall reign, and he who reigns
shall rest,' and Wordsworth's, * We live by admiration,
hope, and love.'

I have dwelt on Clement's doctrine of Faith at what may
seem disproportionate length, because 1 believe that he is
the one of the Christian Fathers who deals with the relations
of Faith and knowledge in the most enlightened and illumin-
ating way. We at any rate feel that we can understand
and sympathise with his point of view, because the problems
with which he had to deal were hi many ways very similar
to our problems. Clement had to steer between the un-
qualified intellectualism of the Greek Gnostics, and the


obscurantism of the simpliciores, with their watchword of
' Faith only ' (^1X7? Trtcms). When Clement speaks of Faith,
he has often in view the Faith of these simple Christians.
And his main object is to show what are the true relations
of this simple belief to the Gnosis of which cultivated
Christians were so proud. Faith, he maintains all through,
is the foundation, Gnosis the superstructure. There is no
generic difference between them. The true Gnostic is
merely the man of Faith come to maturity, a Christian
who has drawn out of his faith all that it virtually con-
tamed from the first. Faith is an immanent, implicit good
(e'l/Siafleros), which Gnosis renders explicit. It is the
condition of all knowledge of God ; there is no royal road
for the philosopher, through the intellect alone, to divine
knowledge. All alike must begin with Faith, which de-
mands a #eoo-e/?i'as o-vyKarafco-is, a personal assent to
an attitude of adoration, an act of piety. But since it is
the nature of Faith to develop into knowledge, the door
cannot be shut upon inquiry. The way is open for a
Christian philosophy. So Clement refutes the obscurantism
of Tertullian, who wishes to break altogether with Greek
philosophy and science.

But Faith is not only the condition of knowledge. It is
the condition of the moral life of the Christian, even at the
highest stage. ' All the virtues are daughters of Faith.'
Faith and knowledge, as concurrent activities of the soul,
are the principles of its growth, and also of its consistency
and stability. ' Faith and knowledge prepare the soul
which chooses to live by them, making it self-consistent and

Clement goes still further, making Faith the foundation
of knowledge in general. I will not trouble you with his
theory of knowledge, which has no great philosophical
value, being a mixture of Platonism and Stoicism ; but by
putting Faith hi the place of the Stoic 7r/>oAryi/as, and know-
ledge in the place of their Kcn-aA^is, he has hit upon a


profounder truth than he knew. He half sees that at the
origin of thought itself, as of will, there is an unconscious
act of Faith. 1

Clement was not a great philosopher, and does not
altogether escape the inconsistencies which beset the
eclectic thinker ; but he makes out a good case for his
main thesis, which he thus sums up : TTIO-TT) TOIVVV 17
yvwo-is, yvtoo-rr) St f) TriVrts. In fact I know no other
author, ancient or modern, who has written so well upon
our subject.

Of the obscurantism of Tertullian I have already spoken.
For him Faith is a sacred deposit, to be accepted and
handed on intact. Faith is practically identified with the
regula fidei. I need not give you any quotations to illustrate
this familiar attitude, except the characteristic ' adversus
regulam nil scire omnia scire est.' The famous ' credo
quia absurdum ' (not an exact quotation) does Tertullian
and his disciples injustice. They do not believe a thing
because it is absurd ; but its absurdity is no reason, to
them, for not believing it. Authority for them is a primary
principle of Faith. It is accountable to no other tribunal ;
it reigns supreme and alone. Such was the immediate
result of translating TTIO-TIS into Latin. ' The language of
the Roman people,' says Heine, ' can never belie its origin.
It is a language of command for generals ; a language
of decree for administrators ; an attorney language for
usurers ; a lapidary speech for the stone-hard Roman
people. Though Christianity with a true Christian
patience tormented itself for more than a thousand years
with the attempt to spiritualise this tongue, its efforts
remained fruitless ; and when Tauler sought to fathom the
awful abysses of thought, and his heart overflowed with
religious emotion, he was compelled to speak German.' 2

My object in this lecture is to illustrate the meanings of

1 De Faye, Cltment Alexandria, p. 198.

Quoted by Allen, Continuity of Christian Thought, p. 249.


Faith, as a theological concept, in the Church. I need not,
I think, quote at length from other Fathers, with whom
the meaning and scope of Faith is a less prominent part
of their teaching than it was with Clement. Tertullian's
conception grew in favour. We hear more and more of
the regula fidei, though it is admitted that grace, which
is only the divine side of Faith, is fettered by no rules.

St. Augustine's writings contain some noteworthy sayings
about Faith. ' Faith is not only knowledge in the intellect
but also assurance (fiducia) in the will.' He recognises
three elements in Faith notitia, assensus, fiducia (Confes-
sions, iii. 183). ' There are three classes of things credible :
those which are always believed and never understood, sicut
est omnis historia, temporalia et humana gesta percurrens :
those which are understood as they are believed, sicut sunt
omnes rationes humance : and those which are first believed
and afterwards understood, such as those about divine
matters, which cannot be understood except by the pure

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Online LibraryWilliam Ralph IngeFaith and its psychology → online text (page 3 of 21)