Belief and trust are not enough

Religious faith has variously been described by many theologians and biblical scholars as either a belief or trust in God and Jesus Christ. Each position has its own adherent community and each view bears controversy and is definitively non-Catholic.

I Believe!Quite simply stated, faith can be neither a mere personal belief nor an avowed declaration of trust in God for each can be shown quite easily to possess such an ephemeral quality that either will ultimately fail when put to the test.

The central question rests upon the teflon ease upon which belief or trust can be lost; stripped away by those who would propound a greater argument or by those who would coerce denial. Place a plea or bequest before God which appears to go unanswered and trust slips away with little or no resistance. Trust quickly metastasizes into distrust and faith in God vanishes with a vagrant wind. And as for the other, just how invincible is a faith that is based solely on a belief in God when one is confronted with a deadly demand to deny His very existence or to acquiesce to another’s god.

Declarations of faith constructed upon belief or trust are foundationally unstable and will soon collapse under the smallest strain or the slightest objection to the truth. So what is the true essence of faith? What defines true faith and how will we know it when we have it?

First, listen to what Jesus tells us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”[1] It is not enough to proclaim Jesus as your Lord and Savior; you have to do what God wills. You have to actively live your faith. You have to do what God asks of you.

And if that should prove insufficient to convince, Jesus makes it even clearer when he says, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”[2]

Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that faith is “an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace.”[3] Every part of that statement exudes action, demands action, and requires action. You cannot have faith without honestly interacting with God; it requires that you build a real and intimate relationship with your Creator.

Faith is above all else an act and any act by its very nature denotes action. Faith requires you to agree and accept with your intellect (your mind) God’s divine truth. Faith must be by free consent, exercised by your God-given free will, for without God’s grace (His divine assistance) your intellect will find it impossible to accept His divine truth.

[1] Mt 7:21.

[2] Mt 7:24-27.

[3] Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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