Friday, May 29, 2009

what is faith

Michael Patton writes an interesting piece “YOU ASK ME HOW I KNOW HE LIVES . . . HE LIVES WITHIN MY HEART” AND OTHER STUPID STATEMENTS. In it he succinctly defines three aspects of faith, i.e., notitia, assensus, and fiducia, as follows:

1. Notitia: This is the basic informational foundation of our faith. It is best expressed by the word content. Faith, according to the Reformers must have content. You cannot have faith in nothing. There must be some referential propositional truth to which the faith points. The proposition “Christ rose from the grave” or “God loves you” for example, provide a necessary information base that Christians must have.

2. Assensus: This is the assent, confidence, or assurance that we have that the notitia is correct. Here we assent to the information affirming it to be true. This involves evidence which leads to the conviction of the truthfulness of the proposition. According to the Reformers, to have knowledge of the proposition is not enough. We must, to some degree, be convicted that it is really true. This involves intellectual assent and persuasion based upon some degree of critical thought. While notitia claims “Christ rose from the grave,” assensus takes the next step and says, “I am persuaded to believe that Christ rose from the grave.”

But these two alone are not enough according to the Reformers. As one person has said, these two only qualify you to be a demon for the demons both have the right information (Jesus rose from the grave) and are convicted of its truthfulness. One aspect still remains.

3. Fiducia: This is the “resting” in the information based upon a conviction of its truthfulness. Fiducia is best expressed by the English word “trust.” We have the information, we are persuaded of its truthfulness, now we have to trust in it. Christ died for our sins (notitia). I believe that Christ died for my sins (notitia + assensus). I place my trust in Christ to save me (fiducia). Fiducia is the personal subjective act of the will to take the final step. It is important to note that while fiducia goes beyond or transcends the intellect, it is built upon its foundation.

And he then adds, "The Church today seems to lack #2. Nominal Christianity lacks #3. Postmodernism lacks #1 and #2." In general, I don't disagree.

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