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Fides Quaerens Intellectum


Originally the subtitle of St. anselm's Proslogion (book to support the faith of the believer), this phrase became the motto of scholasticism. For Anselm it signified the endeavor of one who has the faith to understand what he believes. One achieves this by putting his mind to the contemplation of God and by reflecting upon what he contemplates. It thus gives the basic method of Catholic theologians. Whereas, however, Anselm regards the proofs of God's existence as included in this process, St. Thomas Aquinas excludes them; furthermore, whereas Anselm regards this enquiry as being able not only to show the suitability of a doctrine but also to prove it, Aquinas allows only that it shows its suitability. Vatican I adopts this formula while giving it a more general sense: "when reason, enlightened by faith, seeks its object with diligence, reverence, and moderation, it attains by God's gift some understanding (and that very fruitful) of the mysteries of the faith" (Enchiridion symbolorum, 3016).

See Also: theology; dogmatic theology; methodology (theology); faith and reason; theology, articles on.

Bibliography: g. sÖhngen, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 195765) 4:119120. f. cayrÉ, Patrologie et histoire de la théologie, v.2 (4th ed. Paris 1947) 395.

[b. forshaw]

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