The Idea That Faith and Reason Are Compatible in Religious Texts
There are four fundamental claims of the Catholic intellectual tradition and the one I choose is, the dignity of the human being inviolable and the commitment to justice for the common good is necessary. These four fundamental claims are very important in the catholic religion and we all should try to know them. I have found that many authors have shown this within there stories but the three that I found the most impactful were Matthew, Thomas Aquinas, and Augustine. Matthew writes about his life in the Gospel, changing his entire life, Once he was a tax collector then turned into one of Jesus’ disciples. Augustine makes a big lifestyle change in his story, he went from a nonbeliever to a believer trying to bring everyone he could with him. Aquinas writes about the need for laws to uphold the common good. All three of these stories and authors show a connection to the claim and the catholic intellectual tradition.
In Thomas Aquinas’s readings he talks about laws, he believes that laws are made for the betterment of human society and are good to keep peace and keeps everyone on the right path. Thomas discusses the different types of laws and what makes them correct. Aquinas says that laws have to be for the best of the people and made by a person who is going to make them fairly. The types of laws Aquinas discusses are natural, eternal, human, and divine. These laws are created for the best of the people. Divine laws come straight from God with the Ten Commandments. Another example is human laws, which are made for the sake of civil society, these are enforced by law enforcement. Aquinas says the proper effect of law is to lead people to their proper virtue. He says that since virtue is what makes us good, it should follow that the laws make those who it is given to good. Laws may often seem annoying and unnecessary, but Aquinas provides in full detail the effects of these different types of laws, and how they effect us for the good, not the bad. In order to be committed to the common good, we must follow laws, which is what Aquinas is trying to convey.
In Aquinas’ Summa Contra, this tradition is clearly present, as well as the tradition that faith and reason are compatible. St. Thomas Aquinas addresses this work to the nonbelievers, trying to convince them to convert to Christianity. He focuses on the truths of God and puts an importance on the wisdom of people. Aquinas says that the truths that we confess concerning God. These modes are that some things about God are beyond the reach of human comprehension, and the other is things that human reason can attain. “That there are points of absolute intelligibility in God altogether beyond the compass of human reason, most manifestly appears” (Chapter 3). Aquinas believed that both faith and reason discover truth; a conflict between them is impossible since they both originate in God. “Since therefore falsehood alone is contrary to truth, it is impossible for the truth of faith to be contrary to principles known by natural reason” (Chapter 7). Aquinas does a good job at distinguishing the conflict between faith and reason, which many people believe to not go together. Our faith and reason aid each other in devotion to the common good, which is necessary in living a virtuous life.
In Matthew’s Gospel, he focuses on the many miracles that Jesus performed that helped him convert to the faith, in devotion to the common good. The first miracle Jesus performed was curing a leaper, but instead of making him tell everyone, he told him to show the priest that he is now cleaned. What I liked the most was the story of the sinking ship. A storm had begun while Jesus and his disciples were out at sea. His disciples started panicking, fearing for their death. Jesus then came out and caused the storm to stop. He began to question their faith, for God is always watching and protecting them. “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” (Chapter 8). The Call of Matthew is also interesting, because Matthew tells the story of how he met Jesus. Matthew was a tax collector, and during these times people hated them. “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do” (Chapter 9). He was referring to Matthew being a sinner due to his job, and Jesus is always willing to help those who need it. The miracles Jesus performed were lessons to the people that it is necessary to be devoted to the common good, so that we can live our lives to give rather than receive.
Matthew also talks about the story of Jesus in the Temple in his Gospel. One day Jesus walked into the temple and was angered by people buying and selling goods. He started flipping tables and was telling all of them to get out of the Temple. “It is written, he said to them, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers” (Chapter 21). The Temple is not a place for material goods, it is a place for worship. Jesus had to do this to teach the people a lesson, and to respect the Temple, for it is God’s home. The simple act of keeping the Church a holy place, rather than a market, is a simple act of upholding the common good. Jesus wanted all of us to live in good faith, which is what Matthew talks about in his Gospel, trying to get the world together in the commitment for the justice of the common good.
St. Augustine was an early Christian theologian and philosopher who’s writings helped influence the development of Christianity. The first book of the Confessions is devoted primarily to an analysis of Augustine’s life as a child, from his infancy up to his days as a scholar in the town of Thagaste. Augustine’s account of his early years leads him to reflect on human origin as well as will and desire. Augustine was not a man of faith in his early years, but as he learned more about the faith, his devotion grew stronger, as he tried to learn all he could in commitment to the justice of the common good. He says, ‘the single desire that dominated my search for delight was simply to love and be loved.’ Everyone longs to be loved, and this was exactly what Saint Augustine found himself caught up in. It is interesting to see how even the holiest people in our faith even own up to their mistakes, and it is even more intriguing to see how they overcame these obstacles in their lives. In Book 6 of Augustine’s Confessions, he nears closer to converting to Catholicism, but still has his doubts. In this part of Augustine’s life, he struggles with the decision on whether to marry or not. In these times of the Church, it was not mandatory to stay abstinent when devoting your life to the faith, but it was strongly advised. Augustine’s struggles relate in today’s world, for people do not have a choice anymore if they want to devote their life to Catholicism. If you want to be a priest or nun, you must stay completely abstinent. This is the struggle that many young and old men face in their lives, because they realize that if they want to devote their lives they must make a huge sacrifice. Augustine decides to marry, but cannot do so for the girl he is set to marry is only 12 years old, so he must wait. “Alypius indeed kept me from marrying; alleging that so could we by no means with undistracted leisure live together in the love of wisdom, as we had long desired.” Augustine’s doubts about marrying even though he is allowed to show how ready he was to completely devote his life to God, having no distractions to deal with. Although he decides to marry for the benefits, he shows his true faith and he has time to decide whether marrying this girl will distract him from his faith.
In this book of Augustine’s work, his understanding and interest in God grows, and also has questions for him. Augustine struggles to understand why evil is in the world, if God is so good. Every person has free will, which Augustine acknowledges, but he can still not seem to understand why God would make sinners in the first place. Many people today still ask this question. But in reality, God does not make sinners, people make themselves sinners. God gives us his grace to overcome evil and temptations, and we have the choice whether to accept this or not. We are all made in God’s image and likeness, meaning we are all in a way one. This is why commitment to the justice of the common good is necessary, for we chose the way we live our lives, and it is very easy to get put in the wrong course. Augustine also talks about what he thinks about Christ. He admires Jesus and how he came down to earth and sacrificed himself for the sins of all people. “I took a different view at the time, regarding Christ my Lord as no more than a man, though a man of excellent wisdom and without peer” (pg 132). Augustine’s life was a religious rollercoaster, and as he grew more understanding, he became devoted to the justice of the common good, trying to live the best life he could.
The four fundamental claims of the Catholic religion have helped many people to understand and convert to the Catholic faith. The dignity of the human being is inviolable and the commitment to justice for the common good is necessary, is a claim that is calling for all people to live their lives the best they can, and be devoted to the common good of all people. Matthew, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, all in their own way, do great jobs of implementing this tradition into their works. Matthew and Augustine exemplified it through the way their lives changed as they became more indulged in the faith, whereas Aquinas applied it to the laws that we follow in our everyday lives, and how they are beneficial to the common good. All in all, these writers all made these works to teach others how God wants us to live, and their lessons will carry on for generations.
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