2A2: What is faith according to Saint Thomas and Saint John?

2nd Year, Semester A, 2nd Module (2A2)       

Summary:  Faith, Saint Thomas Aquinas would say, is a grace from God which enlightens and raises one’s intelligence.  The virtue of faith permits the human intelligence to receive Divine Revelation and to adhere to it.  But faith is also the faith of the Church, the faith of the Christian community, and so it need be therefore simultaneously personal and ecclesial.  How does one understand these differences?  What distinctions need to be made?

A larger question, but an equally personal one, concerns one’s motivation in faith:Why do I believe?  Why do I make an act of faith?  These questions need to be addressed both from the standpoint of the Church’s understanding of the mystery of faith (and here Sacred Tradition gives Saint Thomas a unique place) and that of the bond between faith and love (concerning which Saint John’s Gospel has most wonderful light to offer).

Various themes to be looked at:

  • Faith as a theological virtue
  • Faith as action of God and response of man
  • Growth in faith
  • Purity of faith: “rich soil”
  • The Beatitude of faith: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”
  • “I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father”


Saint Thomas, Summa Theologiae IIa, IIae