The Root of Faith
In the preceding chapter there was question, more or less incidentally, of the “concrete” idea of faith as an affective cognition that appears in the Dogmatik as the product of Scheeben’s more mature thought. This concrete idea includes two essential details, as we saw; first, the notion that “the intimate attachment of the intellect to the divine knowledge presents itself as the completion of the soul’s upsurge to God, to which the childlike piety of the will impels it”; and secondly, that this voluntary upsurge of the will is the “root” of faith. These two notions are interesting and suggestive, and deserve a more extended study. They posit indeed two problems certainly fundamental in the psychology of faith: first, which is the intimate nature of that initial movement of the will toward God, and how is it produced? and secondly, how is the affective attachment of God, in which it culminates, organically united to the intellectual assent, its “completion”? Hence the purpose of the present chapter is to examine Scheeben’s contribution to an “easier solution” of these two problems.
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However, a preliminary question must first be despatched, namely that of the advance in Scheeben’s doctrine between the Natur und Gnade and the Dogmatik. The explanation of the causes of this advance is intimately related to the more proper subject matter of this chapter.
Reading through the pages of the Dogmatik, one is confronted immediately with two obvious facts. The first is that Scheeben carries through in perfect
fidelity to himself his early concept of the intellectual aspect of faith; and the second is that now this concept is dominated by a new emphasis on faith’s voluntary aspect. In the Natur und Gnade faith was above all an anticipation of the vision of God; in the Dogmatik it is that indeed, but it is more emphatically an obedience to the voice of God. In the Natur und Gnade faith was essentially the divinization of the intellect; in the Dogmatik it remains essentially that, but it has become more definitely the sacrifice of the intellect.
A word first of all about the actual continuity of doctrine between the Natur und Gnade and the Dogmatik as regards the intellectual aspect of faith. To establish it, it will be sufficient to give a few of the descriptions of faith in general, and of divine faith in particular that are scattered throughout. Even in themselves, these descriptions are interesting. They can perhaps be more expressively given in the German:
ein geistiger Wechselverkehr mit einem vernünftigsittlichen Wesen(1).
die Uebereinstimmung mit dem Urtheile des Redenden, die Theilnahme an and die Gemeinschaft in seiner Erkenntnis, also eine geistige Vereinigung mit ihm(2).
in der That ist ja auch der Glaube im Grunde nichts Anderes, als die Substitution fremder Einsicht, and zwar in der Regel nur der unmittelbaren oder der eigentlichen Intuition, für die eigene(3).
die innigste Gemeinschaft, Durchdringung and Verwandtschaft zwischen der Erkenntnis der Glaubigen and der Erkenntnis Gottes; ....Einleitung and Anticipation des ewigen Lebens(4).
eine übernaturliche Theilnahme (participatio)
an der Erkenntnis Gottes selbst and eine Verahnlichung (conformatio) unserer Erkenntnis mit der göttlichen(5).
Diese Hineingründung and Einfestigung der erkannten Wahrheit in unserer Seele setzt aber die Hineingründung and Einfestigung unseres Erkennens in das unwandelbare Erkennen Gottes . . . . . voraus(6).
(dass) unser Verstand.... das Urtheil and die Gewissheit Gottes sich aneignet, oder, dem sensus Dei consentierend, sich mit ihm vereinigt(7).
direkter Verkehr and innigste Vereinigung mit dem inneren Worte and folglich mit dem innern Leben Gottes.... Theilnahme an seiner ewigen Wahrheit and seinem ewigen Leben; ein Aufschwung zur innigsten Vereinigung mit Gott(8).
eine übernatürliche homogene Theilnahme an der Gott eigentümlichen Gewisssheit. . . eine aus Gott selbst geschöpfte Nachbildung der Gott eigentümlichen Erkenntnis(9).
Verknüpfung and Assimilation....mit der Erkenntnis Gottes(10).
Anschluss an das unmittelbare Wissen Gottes(11).
Auf die Erkenntnis Gottes sich stützend and darum gleichsam durch das Auge Gottes schauend, muss er (i.e. der Glaube) etc.(12).
der Glaubensassens eine so innige and vollkommene Verreinigung and Verähnlichung unserer Erkenntnis mit der göttlichen enthält, dass er als eine Theilnahme an dem eigenen Leben and der Erkenntnis Gottes and als Vorausnahme der uns in dem ewigen Leben and in der seligen Anschauung verheissenen übernatürlichen Erkenntnis and darum als eine der Würde des Wortes Gottes entsprechende, wahrhaft göttliche Gewissheit erscheint(13).
Vereinigung and Verahnlichung mit der göttlichen Erkenntnis(14).
ein Anfang des ewigen Lebens, eine Theilnahme am göttlichen Leben and speziell ein Theil jener mystischen Vereinigung and Lebensgemeinschaft mit Gott von welcher der Apostel sagt: Qui adhaeret Deo unus spiritus est. Er(i.e. der Glaube) erscheint als eine Vereinigung mit Gott, in welcher auf wunderbare Weise Gott der Seele sich einsenkt, and die Seele sich in Gott versenkt; in welcher Gott sein Wort der Seele innerlich einspricht, and die Seele in osculo sancto dasselbe aus seiner Quelle, aus dem Herzen Gottes, trinkt oder dasselbe so erfasst, wie es im Innern Gottes selbst ist (15) .
geheimnisvolle Berührung und Verbindung mit der ewigen Wahrheit(16).
It is interesting to see how with the years Scheeben was led to give increasingly powerful expression to his fundamental concept of the cognition of faith as a wholly unique and supernatural participation in the knowledge of God. The concept receives its most vivid statement in the metaphor, proper to the Dogmatik, that faith is “eine Ueberpflanzung der göttlichen Erkenntnis in die Seele”(17). By this metaphor Scheeben would express both the nature of faith in its relation to the divine knowledge, and also the mystical nature of its genesis. This mystical element in faith is indeed very strongly marked in the Dogmatik, and finds expression in metaphors definitely remienscent of the so-called “romantic theology”, drawn as they are from the source dear to the romantics, namely, organic life (e.g. the above-mentioned “Ueberpflanzung”), and more particularly sexual life. He plays on the double
meaning of “Ueberzeugung”(18); he speaks of the genesis of faith as “eine Erzeugung göttlicher d.h. gottähnlicher Erkenntnis in der Seele aus gottlichem Lichte”(19); in terms of an “Erzeugung” he constantly speaks of the action of the divine grace and light of faith(20). And this metaphor is completed and still further pointed by another, wherein he finds the most exact analogical expression of the relations between reason and faith, namely that of “Vermählung”(21), or as it appears elsewhere, a “Braut-Bräutigam” relationship(22). Thus the Dogmatik by its strongly mystical tone fulfills the promises of the Natur und Gnade.
The second characteristic of the Dogmatik, I said, was the dominating emphasis on the voluntary aspect of faith, in a word, on the notion of faith as an obedience. In order to understand aright the advance and deepeenng of thought that Scheeben exhibits here, it is wholly necessary to take account of his spiritual development and theological education between the years 1861 (the Natur und Gnade) and 1873 (Erste Abteilung der Dogmatik).
One might perhaps best characterize these years by calling them the period wherein the one great theological hate of Scheeben’s life was kindled to the point of flaming intensity, - I meanhis hate of naturalistic and rationalistic liberalism. It may indeed seem strange to speak of hate in connection with a man of Scheeben’s temper, but the fact is that the only passages in his writings where passion shows itself are those in which he is attacking this error(23). Liberalism was a system whose superficiality”(24) he despised, and whose pernicious effects he abhorred. And he saw the culminating evil of the system in the “corruption and dissolution of the
nature of the Catholic faith”(25) which it had brought about. Hence in his endeavor to restore to faith its proper meaning and dignity, it was chiefly against the liberalistic theory that he turned his pen.
Obviously this is not the place in which to review the religious history of Germany from the days of the Syllabus to those of the Vatican Council(26). The point I want to make is merely this, that though Scheeben was a theologian and not an apologete, nevertheless his theological thinking was not done in an ivory tower. He was, and always wished to be, in close contact with the “Zeitgeist”(27), and hence he was keenly alive to the ravages that it had wrought. The fact that these ravages were noticeable even among Catholics touched him most intimately(28), since it was always to the “domestici fidei” that his words and works were directed. Moreover, his interests were not merely with the learned world as such, but with “the people”. He realized that the virus of naturalism, rationalism and liberalism at work in university circles could not fail ultimately to sift down to the people, and to infect them with the disease of the time, an “attenuatio sensus catholici”(29), a disease that was, to a man of Scheeben’s religious temperament, of all diseases the most repellent.
To his mind, the disease had but one remedy, “the full doctrine of the supernatural in its significance for Christian learning and for Christian life”(30). Scheeben never wished to see learning and life separated. “Where there is no vision, the people perish”, Irving Babbit was fond of quoting, and adding, “but where the vision is false, they perish the faster”. Scheeben would have approved the addition. Hence from the earliest years after his return from
Rome, he set himself to blast the false vision that was dazzling so many German minds, - the vision of a learning and a life in which the sacrificium intellectus would have no part or the very slightest. For this false vision he strove to substitute the full splendor of the Catholic vision whose framework is given in the old adage: “Sine Petro, nulla vita”. For him the doctrine of the supernatural was erected on two fundamental principles, and of both he made himself the herald, in defiance of the prophets of his time: against the naturalistic moralism of the “Aufklarungs-theologie”, he extolled the doctrine of God’s real, physical indwelling in His creature man, and against the rationalistic liberalism of his time, he became the apostle of the principle of authority.
As a matter of fact, during the first ten years of his literary activity, it was chiefly this latter principle that was at stake in Germany. The lack of an adequate concept of the vivum magisterium had shown itself in German opposition on historical grounds to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and in the lengthy obstinacy of the Hermesians. Thence unrolled in all its bitterness the “Germanismus-Romanismus” controversy, the main events of which are too well-known to need repetition here. The fact is that German chagrin and irritation at the “intransigeance” of Rome, and German contempt and condescendence for the “sterility” of Rome, all of which feelings grew increasingly strong as German thought was sent proudly over the Alps, to come back on the Index, were manifestations of a continually growing impatience of doctrinal authority, and a desire to withdraw “Wissenschaft” from beneath its supposedly crippling hand. The opposition in Germany to the revival of scholas-
ticism had the same root, a restlessness under the restraining influence of tradition. And all the rumbling dissensions reached their climax in the uproar created in Germany by the announcement of the Vatican Council, in which, as was instantly anticipated, the question of Papal authority would be certainly broached.
The point is that Scheeben was keenly alive to the underlying cause of all these highly emotional disputes. In several articles (31) he gives us his interpretation of the movement in Germany against Papal infallibility, namely that it was an attack on authority as such, born of a refusal to acknowledge the doctrinal rights and powers of any cathedra that dared to set itself up against the university chair. Behind it all was the spirit of liberalism, that had destroyed the concept of authority in social life, substituting therefore “public opinion”, and now would do the same in the Church. The fact that the Pope alone was attacked and not so much the Bishops, was due to the fact that the latter might more readily be made the “representatives” of public opinion. And the ultimate drive of the Liberalistic movement, as he saw it, was to shatter the concept of divine, authoritative faith, and substitute therefor “the cult of religious opinion”, over which “the priesthood of historical science” would benignly preside(32). It was in fact the spirit of Liberalism that Scheeben saw as one of the chief sources from which the pretensions of German science drew their nourishment, - pretensions which reached their logical, and tragi-comical absurdity in the objection to papal infallibility which Scheeben records as having been advanced in all seriousness: Pius IX could not possibly be infallible, since “he has had a
most precarious scientific training, and above all never studied at a German university”(33). The conclusion may be laughable, but as Scheeben well saw, the principle and spirit which spawned it were of a deadly, menacing seriousness. As a matter of fact the fundamental tenet of liberalism [sic] ultimately identical with the “Formalprinzip” of heresy, namely, “the absolute freedom of the individual”(34). And the spirit of Liberalism is likewise identical with the spirit of heresy, which is a “spirit of disobedience” (35). It is therefore not surprising that Scheeben hated liberalism with all the power of his Rhineland and Roman soul.
The point to which I am leading is this, that it was in 1868, just when the shadows of the approaching Vatican Council were beginenng to fall athwart the liberal camps, that Scheeben first set his hand to the Dogmatik(36). The following year, 1869, he took over the editorship and the almost undivided authorship of the periodical devoted to the discussion of the problems connected with the impending Council, “Das Oekumenische Concil vom Jahre 1869”. His work on this periodical went pari passu with the composition of the first part of the Dogmatik, “Die theologische Erkenntnislehre”, - and all in the atmosphere of conflict created by Peter’s assertion of his right to feed with knowledge and doctrine the flock to whom other pastures seemed far more luscious and attractive. In this atmosphere, which certainly penetrated into the quiet study in the Kolner Priesterseminar, Scheeben’s doctrine on faith took the shape in which we find it in the Dogmatik. On his own testimony, he hammered out much of it on the anvil of the articles he was writing for “Das Oekumenische Concil”(37); and hence these
articles, especially the brilliant (and too little known) commentaries on the Vatican Constitutions(38), have a special interest and value. It is particularly important to see in them his analysis of the errors and dangers of the time, since it was in the light of these errors and dangers that the particular emphases of his own exposition of Catholic doctrine took on a sharper definition. The chief error he was combating, as has been said, was Liberalism. the following passages will give his idea of it:
(The liberal) measures divine and Catholic faith with the standard of human faith; he regards it consequently as an act of free trust and sovereign approbation wherewith one accepts and makes his own a truth that is seen to be sufficiently attested. The testimony of another appears to him an authority only insofar as he allows himself freely to be influenced and moved by it, but it is not authority in the sense that the testimony, as an imperious, absolutely binding judgment, necessitates him to an obedient acceptance of its content. According to this theory, faith, insofar as it is referred formally to the word of God as to its source, is not an act of obedience and of submissive homage, but the simple acknowledgement that God has spoken the truth(38).
They (i.e. the liberals) conceive faith in God in the same way as faith in men. In the latter we assent on the testimony of others to that which we cannot or do not wish to establish by our own intelligence or observation; consequently we simply make use of the knowledge of another to our own advantage. And even when as a matter of fact we honour another by the trust we put in him or by the recognition in him of personal qualities superior
to our own, nevertheless even by this manner of acting we do not permit another’s conviction to be imperiously imposed upon us”. (Hence, he continues, man does not find anything unworthy in thus using other men’s testimony, the while he preserves his own independence. It is however intolerable to the liberal’s sense of independence that another man should erect himself as judge and ruler of his ideas, and impose obedience and submission of judgment). “Now this sense of independence of the mature mind is quite justifiable in relation to mere men, who are superior to us only by an added degree of intellectual perfection. It is however the unfortunate characteristic of our time that the same sense of independence is given a uenversal and unconditional validity, even in relation to God. The attitude is at times adopted consciously and deliberately, at times it exerts an involuntary influence on men’s thought and action. Thus divine revelation is treated at the most as testimony which man can or even should make use of with grateful and admiring acknowledgment of God’s condescension and of His intellectual excellences. Denied, however, or overlooked are two things: first, that in and with the revelation is issued an imperious command of the absolute Master of the human mind to the effect that we should submit our judgment to His out of strict obedience to His all-dominating authority, and secondly, that in virtue of this command the refusal of an unconditional acceptance of the revelation means more than a mere disregard of our own interests and of the reverence and gratitude due to God, - it is to be considered a radical revolution and rebellion against our Creator and Lord(40).
Under the influence of the liberal spirit of the times, which hates nothing more than intellectual ‘guardianship’, the lack of true Catholic piety and ‘childlikeness’ of mind in the case of many people became intractable pride and stubborn refractoriness. They despised authority as tyranny; they openly asserted . . . that faith and obedience have nothing to do with one another, are mutually exclusive of one another; they mocked at a childlike submission to authority as ‘servility’, at the ‘sacrifizio dell’intelletto’ as ‘intellectual indolence and stultification’; and in the name of the submerged masses they declared warto the death against authority(41).
These few characteristic passages will be sufficient to show how Scheeben measured his adversary. They serve too to illustrate the emphases in his own doctrine. Against the liberal “sense of independence” he stresses the complete dependence of man and all his powers on God. Against the “lack of true Catholic piety and ‘childlikeness’” he insists on the all-importance of the “childlike mind”(42). Against the false freedom of “sovereign Science”, he proclaimed the true freedom of the children of God, which is found in docile submission to “Eternal Truth, the Queen of all minds”(43). Against the “divinization of Reason”, he defends the rights and the riches of reason divinized(44). And all his teaching focusses on the one point of the necessity of faith(45); in its necessity and by its necessity he saw explained both its nature and its value.
Thus three cardinal points emerge in Scheeben’s, teaching as contained in the periodical “Das Oekumenische Concil”: first, the concept of revelation
as containing “ein Machtgebot des absolutes Herrn unseres Geistes”(46), secondly, the correlative concept of God’s authority as peremptory, imperious, imposing as a strict duty the acceptance of His testimony, and lastly the consequent notion of faith as a costly but precious obedience, the sacrificium intellectus. Of cardinal importance too is the fact that Scheeben expressly wishes these three points to be taken as a faithful interpretation of the doctrine of the Vatican Council, whose emphases he wishes to make his own. These three major emphases he carried over into his work on the Dogmatik. Obviously, since the scope of the Dogmatik was more comprehensive, they lose some little of the sharpness of definition they had in his contemporary articles; nevertheless they do remain strongly marked in the Dogmatik, and they serve to bring the voluntary aspect of faith into a prominence that it did not have in Scheeben’s earlier work. It is the genesis of this new prominence of the voluntary aspect out of Scheeben’s apologetic preoccupations that I wished here to account for. Whether these same apologetic preoccupations operated ultimately to the detriment of the consistence and totality of his theology of faith, is a question that we shall have to answer later.
As a prelude to the exposition of the concept of faith as developed in the Dogmatik a word about the correlative and complementary concept of revelation that Scheeben presents is wholly necessary. To set in relief the Catholic doctrine on revelation, he makes rather a good analysis of the whole tendency of the religious movement of Protestantism, from its orthodox to its liberal stage. He sees in it ultimately an attack “on the purpose, the value and the nature, in a
word on the very idea of revelation; it protests in the last analysis not against ‘human institutions’, ‘human authority’, and ‘human coercion of faith’, but against the power and right of dominion that belong to the word of God as such. Consequently the ultimate tendency of it all must be the denial or the stifling of the concept and the very existence of revelation, nay more, of the concept and existence of a personal God and Creator, on which the idea of revelation rests”(47).
It is precisely this division over the very idea of revelation that forms “the fundamental and formal difference between Catholicism and Protestantism” in both its earlier and later forms(48). Despite their different starting points, at first a false supernaturalism, and then later a rationalistic naturalism, nevertheless both orthodox and liberal Protestantism join in common protest, “the one in the name of Christian, the other in the name of purely human freedom of spirit, against a revelation that authoritatively imposes itself on all men in general and each in particular”. For both of them the sigenficance of revelation is comprised in the fact that it offers to the individual man an opportuenty and a source in which to seek comfort and assistance, according to his personal, subjective wants, - either the assurance of pardon, or the satisfaction of his “emotional needs”. In this theory, revelation is put at the mercy of the individual; “from the object of a firm and immutable faith, it becomes the subject of a subjective arbitrary and fickle religious opinion”(49).
In contrast to this Protestant annihilation of the concept of revelation, Scheeben gives a powerful picture of the Catholic idea; revelation is “for all men in general and each in particular a fruitful principle
of supernatural knowledge and life, and a sovereign law of faith”(50), of thought and action. By means of it all men are to be united into the one realm of truth and holiness, whose King is God Himself, in order that, in uniformity (Gleichförmigkeit) with God and in submission to Him, they may not only achieve the beatitude He intends for them, but also give Him the glory that is His due and that He wills to have(51).
A creative principle of supernatural, infallible knowledge of God, and a sovereign law of faith, imperiously imposed by the King of Truth, - in these two notes Scheeben sums up the Catholic concept of revelation. In the First Book of the Dogmatik the latter note receives the greater stress, and out of it he develops in brilliant fashion the whole structure of the teaching mission of the church(52). As the reason for this stress he assigns the liberalistic currents of the time. Liberal Protestantism has taken, he says, the logical step indicated but not taken by its ancestor, and has denied directly and on principle the claim of God to the homage of faith; it accepts revelation as some sort of an assistance to reason, but it rejects completely the necessity of the sacrificium intellectus; hence against it stress must be put “on the sovereign right of God to Faith, and consistently with this, on the effective enforcement of revelation; only in this way does the full and clear concept of authority in the realm of faith come to the fore”(53).
From this last sentence it is clear how closely into line Scheeben wishes to bring the idea of revelation, and the idea of authority as the ground of faith. It was to illustrate this connection that I introduced this much about his concept of revelation. Having it in mind will enable us later to understand the analysis
that he makes of authority. That the ground lines of this analysis were furnished by his idea of revelation will be easily seen, just as it is already clear that his development of the notion of revelation was strongly influenced by Protestant and liberal deformation of it.
Another point should be noted. The fact is that in Scheeben’s time it was the teaching authority of the Church that was challenged or misunderstood by the Liberals, more particularly by the Catholic Liberals, - Dollinger, for instance, and the school of Munich. Consequently Scheeben was most desirous of setting the teaching authority of the Church in its proper light. And this desire undoubtedly colored his development of the notion of revelation as a “command” and of faith as an “obedience”. However, one might ask whether he was not thereby led into a certain confusion of thought. Notwithstanding the fact that the proposition of revelation by the Church is most intimately connected with the revelation itself as given by God, still the acknowledgment of the one as authoritative is not wholly identical with the acceptance of the other as true. Nor are they identically motivated. One’s ethical attitude toward the Church as the depositary of revelation does not coincide entirely with one’s ethical attitude toward God maenfesting Himself as one’s supernatural last end, - the former might be qualified as an attitude of obedience more readily than the latter. The point I wish to make is this, that in endeavoring to bring to the fore “the clear and full concept of authority in the realm of faith” by insisting on the power behind “the effective enforcement of revelation”, Scheeben is exposing himself to the danger of over-emphasizing the notion of divine faith itself as an obedience. The point will come up again later.
To turn now to the actual doctrine of the Dogmatik with regard to the intimate nature of the act of faith, its “root” and the internal unity of its double element.
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Scheeben’s approach to the problem is quite characteristic. He observes that all theologians are in agreement as regards the individual elements that go to make up the act of faith, but that they differ in details of composition, and above all in their emphases. Against one particular emphasis he sets himself from the outset, namely against a concept of faith that is “too abstract and mechanical”, and that “overlooks or attenuates the living organism of it”(54).
In these words Kleutgen sees the announcement of an “attack” upon himself(55). Scheeben in reply(56) objects to the word “attack”, but the fact is that the Lugonian theory of faith, of which Kleutgen was at the time the chief defender, definitely seemed to him to merit the qualification of “abstract and mechanical”, and for it he has extremely little sympathy. His antagonism to it is explained by the same cause that explains its attraction for other minds in the 19th century, namely its “rationalism”. “In this theory”, he says, “it is not so much God who generates faith by His authority, as reason by its own insight”(57). As a matter of fact, Scheeben’s decisive rejection of Lugo’s theory was but a result of his more fundamental reaction against the Hermesian school, which made of faith merely “an ice-cold, mechanical operation of the reason”(58). He was indeed willing to admit that Lugo did “somehow or other” satisfy all the theological values of the act of faith, its supernaturality and its
freedom. But he saw a basic methodological error, that to him smacked of rationalism, in Lugo’s forcing of the parallelism between human and divine faith(59), and in his attempt to explain the latter in terms of a “Schlussverfahren”(60). It would of course be quite wrong to suppose that Scheeben himself was insufficiently interested in preserving the rationability of faith; but he was still more interested in preventing concern for faith’s rationability from leading to a too intellectual concept of faith. To posit the root of faith in any sort of a theoretic principle (e.g. “What a trustworthy witness testifies to, is true”(61)) was, he thought, to take an altogether too abstract, logical, mechaencal view of the act, to rupture its complex but organic unity, and to reduce the explanation of its genesis to an unreal juxtaposition of propositions (62).
Against this conception, he posits his own ground principle: faith is not concerned primarily with propositions, it is posited by a person, and in a person; it is essentially a commerce of spirit between intelligent beings:
The assent to a truth which is not directly evident to us, on the testimony of another intelligence, then alone merits the name of faith, in the proper and full sense of the word as it is universally understood, when this assent is a voluntary acceptance of the communication made to us. That is to say, the assent must be evoked and supported by the striving to meet, with a respect and regard due to his rational and moral nature, the advances of the person who makes the commuencation, to attach oneself to him and to enter upon a commerce of spirit with him(63).
In other words, for Scheeben the affective element enters into faith and assumes the primacy in its genesis and nature precisely because faith implies a personal relation between rational creatures. Apart from personal regard for the speaker there is no faith in him, properly speaking. One might indeed accept what he says merely because dissent would be stupid or useless, but such an acceptance would not be faith, since the foundation of faith, its affective element, which is conditioned wholly by one’s personal relation to the speaker, would be lacking.
From this basic view of the nature of faith, Scheeben concludes immediately that “faith is no pure, logical act of cognition but in its totality also a moral act, and this to such a degree that the assent of the understanding is the work of the will: assensus intellectus imperatus a voluntate”(64).
This leads to Scheeben’s basic concept of faith as a “compound act”(65)., - that is to say, an act compounded of an intellectual and a voluntary aspect. Obviously such a concept is as such a theological commonplace, - the freedom of faith is defined doctrine. However, peculiar to Scheeben is the intimate unity he strives to establish between the two elements of faith. He does indeed maintain, and quite properly, that the intellectual assent as such “forms the genuine substance and essence of faith”(66); but he insists far more on the inseparability of the intellect’s action from that of the will, both in the genesis of faith and in its internal constitution. His characteristic formula is that the pius credulitatis affectus “belongs to the substance of faith”(67), he speaks of it also as a “constituent part of faith”(68), and as an “essential element of faith”(69).
These formulas create a difficulty: just what is this pius credulitatis affectus? (or as he calls its elsewhere “der gläubige Wille”(70), “die gläubige Gesinnung”(71), “pia affectio voluntatis”(72)). Ordinarily the term is applied by the theologians to the “actus voluntatis imperans fidem”(73), though not seldom it has wider meaenng, implying the general affective dispositions of the soul approaching faith. However, Scheeben expressly distinguishes “the will’s decision to posit the act of faith” from the “act of the will which belongs to the substance of faith and forms its root”(74) which latter he terms the pius credulitatis affectus. And by the same token, this latter is distinguished from the more remote moral preparations for faith, which certainly do not belong to its “substance”. Moreover, at times Scheeben speaks of the pius affectus in a way to suggest that it is not, so much an act as an “attitude”, a moral disposition of reverence, respect, regard, etc. for the majesty of God. At other times it appears definitely as an act, since it “evokes” the assent of faith(75). The more exact nature of this act, or attitude, will be determined as far as possible when we come to speak of its motive. For the moment three things at least are clear; first, that though Scheeben clearly distinguishes the will’s action in faith from the action of the intellect, nevertheless he wishes faith itself to, be conceived as a single, undivided and indivisible, movement of the soul, to which the will’s action is somehow interior, and of which it is a constituent; secondly, he apparently wishes the pius affectus to mean that affective attachment to God which is decisive: in the production of the assent of faith; and thirdly,: he wishes to posit an organic and genetic relation
between the will’s action (the pius credulitatis affectus) and the assent of faith.
All three of these points are given expression it his favorite and frequently repeated metaphor: the pius affectus is the “root” of faith(76). And the notion conveyed by this metaphor must be regarded as the fundamental feature of Scheeben’s theory as to the genesis and nature of faith. Constitutionally, the pius affectus belongs to the substance of faith as the root belongs to the substance of the plant, and genetically, in the pius affectus is situated the productive power that brings the assent into being. In this “root” metaphor there comes to expression that living, organic concept of faith, and that primacy of the affective element that he wished to urge against the overly intellectual and “abstract and mechanical” conceptions of other theorists. It is in fact with a fatal overlooking of this vital point, namely “the peculiar psychological and organic development of faith in general and of divine faith in particular out of the pius credulitatis affectus that he charges the Lugonian theory(77).
A fuller idea of Scheeben’s concept of the “living organism” of faith and of the function of the will in it, can be had from his discussion of the liberty of faith. The whole purpose of this discussion, he says, is to show how faith is “as hardly any other act is, a deed of the whole man; it is man as such who is engaged in it, with all the powers proper to his nature, especially his most interior and lofty powers, in virtue of which he posits the act as the living actuation of his freedom”(78).
First of all he objects to what he calls a merely negative view of the freedom of faith, that is to say,
a view that places the necessity of the intervention of the will merely in the fact that the reasons for belief lack necessitating force. Such a view seems to him to make the action of the will rather too accidental, to make the freedom of faith too much an imperfection, and to reduce even the assent of faith to a form of cognition inferior to that based on evidence.
.... rather, it (i.e. the freedom of faith) is to be conceived in positive fashion, as a specific perfection proper to faith, which corresponds “to the nature of faith, and issues from the essential part that the will has in it on its affective side. The lack of necessitating force in the arguments can and should offer merely the occasion for the fuller revelation of the freedom that lies in its very nature(79).
Hence he distinguishes a “formal, primary, specific and essential freedom of faith”, and a “material, secondary and accidental freedom”(80). And he laments the fact that a “confusing one-sidedness” should have led “many theologians of former and more recent times” to treat only the second, or at least to put it in the foreground.
The formal and specific freedom of faith Scheeben posits in the fact that it is a “plenum revelanti Deo Intellectus [sic] et voluntatis obsequium”; these words of the Vatican form the “foundation of this view”, and the starting point for its explanation(81). Through its explanation Scheeben presents us with the living organic concept of faith that he fashioned for himself.
Faith, he says, according to the Church’s teaching,, is not any sort of an assent to God’s revelation; it is an assent which is at the same time a “libere moveri in Deum”, — the Tridentine phrase which he sees “more
exactly explained” by the Vatican’s “libere praesentare Deo obedientiam”.
Faith is a living striving toward God as the Principle, Object and Goal of revelation; more in particular, it is an acceptance, or better a seizure of the content of revelation that comes about through a surrender and a submission to the authority of God, and through an intimate attachment to His Eternal Truth(82).
The consequence is that man must obviously do more than merely weigh the value of the motives of credibility and lay himself open to their influence. on the contrary, his will has a positive and essential function in faith, and that along two lines: first, faith in its genesis is “intrinsically bound to and supported by” a command and impulse of the will, and secondly, its very existence is conditioned by the fact that it is essentially a product of the will’s “pietas”, namely its “exalted respect and trust of God”, and its “love of and inclination to the truth, and to God who is the source of all truth”(83). Here again we have the notion of the pius affectus as the root of faith, - the notion, which Scheeben unweariedly repeats, that the assent of faith follows essentially and only in virtue of the “will’s adhesion to God”; the assent is the “completion” of the preceding affective adhesion to God, in that it achieves a “seizure” of that which has already been submissively accepted by the will(84).
“Accordingly”, he concludes, “in the act of faith man is engaged wholly, with his whole interior self and all the spiritual part of his nature, - with mind and feeling (heart) and will “ The act of faith has a certain uniqueness among human acts, in that it is neither a pure act of intellect nor a pure act of will:
Over and above mere acts of cognition, faith has this property, that it is not merely a passive conception, but an affective and therefore living seizure of the object known; over and above mere acts of the will it has this property, that it is not a mere affection, and hence does not merely tend to its object, but at the same time grasps it with the mind(85).
In this fashion Scheeben explains the act of faith as “essentially and intrinsically voluntary and free”(86). The affective aspect of it is part of its very nature, required not merely that there may be an acceptance of the truth presented, but primarily that the acceptance may have the specific character of faith as such.
From all this it is in a measure clear how he conceives the relations between the affective and intellectual elements of faith. The role of the will is not merely to permit the intellect to give itself to the evaluation of the motives of credibility, standing umpire, so to speak, over the mind’s debate with God; nor is it merely to administer the “coup de grace” when these motives are found insufficient to produce an assent, as it were deciding the debate in God’s favor and imposing upon the mind the consequences of its defeat, namely the submission of faith. In this last hypothesis faith “would be merely connected with an act of freedom”(87). On the contrary, the action of the will is required “essentially and intrinsically”(88) that the act of faith may be what it should be, namely an affective attachment of the mind to God. It is precisely the affective character of the assent that determines faith to its full and specific nature, that namely of a “plenum intellectus et voluntatis
obsequium”. To this notion Scheeben returns, as from it he started.
And here one all-important point must be carefully, [sic] — namely that for Scheeben the Vatican formula means, in one word, that faith is an obedience(89). I say the point is all-important, because it is precisely in terms of obedience that he wishes to explain the will’s initial adhesion to God, that is the “root” of faith, — the pius credulitatis affectus is for him essentially a movement of obedience. And in the notion of obedience he hopes to find the solution to the problem of the genesis of faith and its intimate nature. Consequently this notion must now be examined, and that can best be done by presenting Scheeben’s analysis of the notion of “authority”, to which corresponds the “obedience” of faith.
* * * * *
In analyzing the notion of authority Scheeben makes a basic distinction between what he calls “authority in the more proper sense” and that I may call authority in a pregnant sense. “The first and most immediate element of this faith-authority,” he says, “is one that is commonly overlooked, but that is definitely present, and by all means to be emphasized”(90).
In general we understand by authority the moral power and dignity of an individual, in virtue of which he is in a position to determine other individuals in their thinking and conduct, or to demand of them that they allow themselves to be so determined and influenced(91).
And this general note of all authority is found in the authority which is the motive of faith; “it characterizes (the latter) formally as authority”:
As a matter of fact, the speaker impels us to
belief primarily by the fact that he expressly or implicitly makes upon us a demand for faith, and by the fact that this demand receives a moral power from the dignity of the speaker(92).
The demand in question is contained at least implicitly in any language that is, to use his own antithesis, “eine Ansprache”, and not merely an “Aussprache von’ Gedanken”(93).
It is moreover evident that the “authority” of the speaker in this sense, and the consequent moral effectiveness of his demand for faith, depends on the relation of superiority in which he stands to the hearer. Hence there are three grades of authority. The lowest is that of the simple witness as such; his personal worth can invite to faith in his word, but not strictly demand it; he can offer his knowledge to complete ours, but he cannot strictly impose it. A step higher is the authority of the teacher with reference to his pupils; by reason of his intellectual superiority and the dignity of the “cathedra”, his utterances command not merely attention but reverence, and one’s acceptance of them assumes thus a particular qualified character, - it involves an honorific subordination of one’s own judgment to that of the teacher. However he is not in a position to exact from his pupils an absolute and formal submission of mind(94).
The highest grade of authority, “which alone is to be considered as authority in the proper sense”, is that possessed by one who is really “auctor” of another’s being, so that to him the other stands in a relation of strict and genuine dependence. To only two persons does Scheeben concede this authority, to the Creator over His creatures, and to parents over their children of minor age, - in this parental authority he
consistently sees the closest earthly analogy to the divine authority of God.
This authority can not merely invite faith, but imperiously demand it, make it a duty of obedience, and stamp upon it inwardly the character of obedience and submission. Consequently the power and purpose of this authority is not merely to complete the knowledge of the one subject to it, where his own intelligence of things fails; it further necessitates him to the submission and the sacrifice of his own judgment, formed out of whatlights he may personally have, to the judgment of the authority in question(95).
It is this authority “in the strict sense” which Scheeben conceives to be the force creative of that initial moral attitude in which faith originates; it is the motive of the “will to believe”, which is the root of all faith, both human and divine. And the other qualities of the speaker, his knowledge and veracity, operate to the production of faith only in and through their conjunction with this “fundamental element of authority:”. They form its specific attributes, which determine it to be “faith-authority”, but they are not be be “forthwith identified with”, nor “by themselves alone defined as ‘authority’”. Rather, they should be taken as constituting the speaker’s “credibility”. However, between credibility and authority as such, especially in the case of God, there obtains an inadequate distinction, based on the fact that “authority has an independent action, alongside of and ahead of (these) attributes, (so that) they come into full play only in and through it”(96).
Of the nature of this authority in the strict sense Scheeben gives a number of formulations and
descriptions. It is the “dignity of the person and the moral power of his will”(97); it is brought to bear by a “demand” for faith(98); in the case of God he calls it “die absolute Achtungswürdigkeit and Autorität Gottes”(99); but his more common formula is “die gebietende Autorität Gottes über unseren Geist”(100). The point is that this “authority” is essentially a moral power, that binds the will. It is in fact the specificative motive of the pius credulitatis affectus:
The motive of the act of the will, or of the so-called pius credulitatis affectus, which as the, root of faith belongs to its substance, - and consequently the formal motive and also the formal object of faith on its ethical side, - is the authority of God in the sense of His absolute majesty, or His mastery over our minds, in virtue of which He instils into us an absolute respect and reverence, and demands of us obedience and trust, and so commands the acceptance of His word by faith. In accordance with this motive faith itself is intrinsically and essentially fashioned into an act of obedient and submissive homage to God, and of unlimited surrender to Him, - into an act, in other words, of religiosity, a species of latreutic worship, and moreover an act of worship that is particularly lofty and pleasing to God, since it the religiositas mentis, the sacrificum intellectus(101).
Hence it will be seen why I said above that Scheeben makes the pius credulitatis affectus essentially a movement of obedience; it is for him essentially a submission to a superior will. Moreover it seems to be a formal obedience, since its object is a strict
command(102), - Scheeben, as we saw, conceives revelation as a “Machtgebot des absoluten Herrn unseres Geistes”. Finally, the obediential character of the pius affectus, the root of faith and intrinsic to it, stamps upon faith itself the character of an obedience.
There is no doubt that this idea of authority on which depends Scheeben’s concept of the “obedience” of faith, presents certain originalities. Hence one must naturally inquire into his substantiation of it.
And first of all, it is obvious that he sees his theory expressed, or at the very least, implied, in the Vatican constitutions. It is a question whether the Vatican actually furnished him with the idea of the distinction between “authority in the strict sense” and credibility, or whether he merely seeks in the Vatican for confirmation of a theory already conceived. At any rate, the fact is that this distinction first makes its appearance in his commentary of the Vatican “Consitutio de fide catholica”. One passage is worth giving:
Authority in the proper sense means the superior spiritual power and dignity of a person, in virtue of which he becomes the ‘author’ of the thought or action of another person. . . . This superior spiritual power expresses itself in a wider sense through the weight of advice or instruction, in a stricter sense through a real command, in virtue of which another is morally necessitated to a particular course of thought or conduct. Now, the Council declares in canon 2 that the nature of divine faith, as contrasted with natural knowledge, demands that the “revealed truth be believed on the authority of God revealing”, and thus rejects the view which considers the testimony of God as a mere means of proof in the service of our own
independent thinking. On the contrary, the Council demands an assent that proceeds from a reverential attachment to God, to which attachment one is determined by the authority of God, - or in other words, an assent to which the mind is determined by the will, out of reverence for God. And that is not all. For according to canon 1, the divine authority, to which corresponds faith, essentially manifests itself as authority in the strictest sense of the word, namely as imperious authority (gebietende Autoritat). Consequently the words “to believe on the authority of God revealing” have the same sense as: to be determined to an assent to the truth in question out of obedience and reverence to God, in virtue of His command and testimony, which have absolute binding force and are worthy of all respect(103).
In the Dogmatik, too, where his distinction is given a finer point, Scheeben clearly was following an inspiration from the Vatican, as is clear from the following passage, among others:
From this characteristic of the divine authority in its relation to faith (i.e. from the notion of authority as God’s absolute mastery over the mind, in virtue of which he demands and commands the obediential acceptance of His word), the Vatican begins its teaching on the nature of faith, in that it defines faith as a homage of intellect and will given to God, - a homage which we owe Him because, we depend absolutely from Him as our Creator, and because created reason is completely subordinate to uncreated truth(104).
And he assigns the reason for the Vatican’s, and hence for his own, emphasis on this “characteristic”:
Along these lines the Council was obliged to emphasize both the motive of faith and the corresponding attitude of the will, for the particular reason that the rationalistic and liberalistic view strip faith entirely of its moral character, or else they set divine faith on the same plane as human faith. In other words, in divine as in human faith they see merely a completely independent and sovereign utilization and ratification of another’s testimony, but not a submissive and obedient recognition and acceptance of the utterance of one’s sovereign Lord and Master, nor an unconditioned subjection to His judgment, - and this is an error whose consequences are as far-reaching as they are pernicious(105).
The conclusion is that Scheeben certainly thought his theory on the nature of authority to be at least a legitimate development of the Vatican condemnation of liberalism.
His next source of support is the Scriptural doctrine on faith as an “obedience”. In two places he exploits these texts(106). He acknowledges that particularly in the Gospels the testimony of God often is advanced sine additio as the motive of faith, but he adds, “often enough too, in and with this testimony, the imperious authority of God is emphasized, notably in the texts which deal with the institution and mission of the teaching apostolate”. However, he chiefly appeals to the Letters of St. Paul, “in which faith is consistently portrayed as an “obedience”, and infidelity as a “disobedience”(107). But he makes no attempt at an exegesis of the precise meanng of this “obedientia fidei”, - the fact that St. Paul uses the word seems to have been enough for him.
When it comes to finding support for his position in the scholastic tradition, Scheeben is rather more at a loss. He seizes upon William of Paris, who, he says, “most decisively and thoroughly stressed the nature of the obedience of faith, to such an extent indeed that later theologians suspected him of having regarded this imperium of God as also the formal object of the intellectual assent of faith”(108). The implication in this statement is interesting, namely that Scheeben himself did not share this suspicion. His interpretations were indeed always most benign. And there is a tribute to the fineness of Scheeben’s theological sense in the fact that this milder view of William’s doctrine (with which Kleutgen emphatically disagreed) is the one that has come to be espoused by several able theologians of late years.
Apart from William of Paris, Scheeben can cite no other individual authority. But he has this to say about the scholastic tradition in general:
The other scholastics as a rule express the authority of God in the stricter sense in its connection with the motive of the intellectual act, by putting as the motive of faith the Prima Veritas. The ‘prima’ indicates that God demands and determines faith precisely in His character as uncaused principle of all knowledge and of all intellectual beings, and consequently as Sovereign of all minds In a word, (the term ‘prima’ indicates) that, as the Vatican says, the whole man and particularly the ratio creata is subject to Him as the veritas, and hence as the Creator and Dominus(109).
To these sources, - in the doctrine of the church, in Scripture and in the scholastic tradition as he interprets it, - Scheeben traces his theory as [sic] the
nature of authority, and consequently as to the motivation of the pius credulitatis affectus, that initial affective adhesion to God which is the root of faith. Before passing on to an estimate of its validity, I would call attention to one important point, - namely that Scheeben makes the authority in question an attitude of God as “Lord and Master”, and similarly he makes faith a submission to one’s “Creator”.
* * * * *
In forming a judgment of Scheeben’s theory much depends on the standpoint one assumes. One might first of all consider its apologetic value. From all that has been said it should be clear that Scheeben fashioned his theory largely as a weapon with which to shatter liberalism. For such an aim, and for the success with which Scheeben achieved it, one could have naught but praise. His presentation of the obediential character of faith is indeed brilliant. That was the precise facet of faith that needed to be presented to the world for which he wrote, nor has the world so changed that one could afford to forget it to-day. Hence from an apologetic point of view Scheeben did a valuable and lasting work.
Secondly, one might consider his theory from the standpoint of religious psychology, - and here again its value is high. Certainly from this point of view the capital thing about faith is that contained in St. Augustine’s apothegm: “cordis res est ista”(110). The heart in which Christ is to “dwell by faith” must be prepared by sentiments of reverence and submission. This is surely a truth of profound religious importance, which Scheeben developed excellently. One remembers Newman’s words: “Once a man believes in God, the greatest obstacle to belief in revelation has been
got out of the way, - the proud, self-sufficient spirit”(111). By his faith in God, as he explains, man bows inwardly to One Who is Creator and Judge, and thus recogenzes that he is not himself the measure of all things, nor the master of his own destiny. This too is the truth that Scheeben is driving at when he says that the Vatican definition “de Deo Creatore” furnishes the foundation on which the subsequent definition “de fide” is built, - the realization of God as Creator instils in the heart that sense of utter dependence on Him that is essential for the further submission of faith(112).
Also valuable from a psychological standpoint is Scheeben’s stress on the fact that faith is an affair between persons, in which the actual personality of the speaker and one’s relationship to him are of capital importance. He is eminently right in bringing to the fore the necessity of a certain superiority in the speaker, and in maintaining that faith is the more perfect in proportion as the superiority of the speaker is the more elevated. By refusing to grant even this, and by arguing for an abstract and minimist conception of faith, Kleutgen’s vitiates a large part of his criticism(113). Scheeben’s “concreteness” is far closer to the psychological realities of the case. The chief advantage of his view is that it sets in the proper relief a point not seldom overlooked, namely that divine faith, even as faith, has no parallels in the human order, but only analogies, even as the authority of God admits of only analogical participation by His creatures. God’s relation of superiority to His creatures is wholly unique, and consequently faith in His word must be in certain of its aspects a unique act. Of this fact Scheeben was always vividly conscious, and hence his distaste for the “abstractness”
of Lugo and Kleutgen. It would seem that he detected in them the rationalistic methodology of making human faith the measure of divine faith. And his own anxiety to avoid that error is wholly laudable.
Thus briefly I would indicate the apologetic, psychological and religious values excellently preserved in Scheeben’s theory. My own doubts about it have rather a theological ground, - or perhaps more exactly, a theologico-psychological ground. And I would question his theory in terms of its own concrete aims and suppositions. When he is following his own most personal thought on the matter, unswayed by apologetic considerations (as for example, in his treatment of the supernaturality of faith), he wishes to make the assent of the intellect the “completion” of the will’s “upsurge” to God - as he calls it, the pius credulitatis affectus. He wished the root of faith, an affective movement toward, and attachment to God, to flower as it were into the assent, out of its own inner, organic potentialities. On the other hand, by his motivation of it in terms of God’s “imperious authority”, he makes the pius affectus essentially a movement of formal obedience. The question therefore is: can the pius affectus, conceived as a formal obedience, actually be that upsurge of the will to God which is peculiar to faith? and can the assent of faith be its organic product? In other words, can an affective adhesion to God, that has the character of a formal obedience, be the inward generating and supporting power of the peculiar type of assent that is the assent of faith?
Here the point at issue should be clarified by certain precisions, to which Scheeben pays too little attention. The fact is that the pius credulitatis
affectus admits many meanings. It can mean the general affective disposition that inspires the search for religious truth, and guides the searcher all along the path of faith. Understood in this sense, it can be the product of many motives, and composed of many different acts of virtue; prominent among them will be Scheeben’s sense of dependence in God, respect and reverence for Him as Creator, obedience to His authority(114). God works in many ways upon His creatures’ hearts, and the cords of Adam whereby He draws them are numberless. And the affective disposition created and sustained by all these multiple forces can indeed be called the root of faith, if one so wishes, - though I think “soil of faith” would be a more exact metaphor.
However, I am speaking (as apparently Scheeben wished to speak, at least as the general thing) of that last, decisive upsurge of the will that is the affective motion interior to faith as such, that “belongs to its substance”, in that it effectively determines the intellect’s assent, and thus with the assent enters as a constituent part into the concrete, living act of faith: “actus intellectus secundum quod imperatur a voluntate”. Can this ultimate act of will be a movement of formal obedience, motivated by a strict precept, a “Machtgebot des absoluten Herrn unseres Geistes”? Above all, can it be such in Scheeben’s own supposition, namely that there is an organic unity between this will and the assent of which it is the root?
I would suggest just one serious reason for doubting, derived from the basic theological truth about faith, namely that it is the initium salutis. Faith, as St. Thomas says, is the primum converti and the prima conversio, objectum beatitudinis (I-II q.
113, a. 4 c and ad 2m). As such, it implies by definition a movement both of intellect and of will, which unite into an inchoative ordination of oneself to one’s Last End, by the voluntary acceptance of that Last End, newly revealed. Given the rational nature of man, this acceptance must naturally be made by both intellect and will: by the intellect, since apart from the previous existence of the end in the intellect there can be no rational movement toward it, - and by the will, because the cognition of man’s supernatural Last End of its nature demands the cooperation of the will. This for two reasons: first, because man’s supernatural Last End is the “non-apparens” par excellence, - and secondly (and more fundamentally and formally), because of the very basic principle of the metaphysics of finality proper to a rational creature:
Deus movet omnia secundum modum uniuscujusque.....Unde et hominem movet ad justitiam secundum condi tionem naturae humanae; homo autem secundum prop riam naturem habet quod sit liberi arbitrii; et ideo in eo qui habet usum liberti arbitrii non fit motio a Deo ad justitiam absque motu liberi arbitrii (I-II q. 113, a. 3 c).
From this standpoint it appears that there is an internal organic unity between the intellectual and affective elements of faith. In its full significance, and of its nature, faith is at once a movement of the intellect toward God revealing Himself as Last End, and a movement of the will toward God revealed as Last End. The two movements are inseparable, since neither by itself constitutes that initial conversion to God, which is faith. In other words, only the assent of faith secundum quod imperatur a voluntate” is that voluntary, inchoative ordination of oneself to one’s
supernatural Last End, which is faith, the initium salutis. Moreover, this view of faith would seem to indicate an explanation of the primacy of the will it its genesis, and of the intimate nature of the pius credulitatis affectus, as that term has been explained.
The fact is that the Last End which God reveals and promises to man is supernatural, - i.e. it is a good to which man is not by his nature ordained, and which he cannot by his natural powers either desire or know. Hence the problem of faith from God’s side, so to speak, is to effect man’s voluntary ordination of himself to this supernatural, hidden Last End. He must therefore direct the first solicitations of His grace to man’s will, the supreme motive faculty of the homo viator, whereby he orientates himself to his journey’s goal. It is the faculty of will, as St. Thomas often says, “which moves all the other powers”(115), for upon it is impressed the fundamental dynamism of the rational creature as such, that restless, irreducible appetite for beatitude, which is the very nature of the faculty of will, and of man who must govern himself by will.
It is consequently the faculty of will that God first “elevates”, i.e. endows with a new finality, directing it now to Himself as supernatural Last End. Obviously, as a direction of man to God as a Last End, as the impression on the will of a new dynamism, the direction to God which is the initial operation of the grace of faith takes place in the region of nature as such, and in the allied region of indeliberate acts (116). Hence it effects no complete ordination of man to his Last End; it is indeed the primum converti, but not the prima conversio to God. The actual conversion becomes complete in its own order when it becomes free, i.e. a free acceptance of the divine motion.
And here is the point: the free acceptance of the divine motion finds its expression in and by the assent of faith. As I said above, the assent of the intellect “secundum quod imperatur a voluntate” is identically man’s inchoative ordination of himself to his supernatural Last End. Only the intellect, by its assent to God’s word, can accept the fact that this end is divinely appointed as a real object for man’s conscious, deliberate striving; but it can achieve this acceptance only in virtue of the will’s actual, indeliberate direction to this end, accomplished by grace. In the order of causality, the will’s direction to the end precedes the intellect’s assent to the fact that it is an end. Thus, in a word, the assent of faith to God revealing Himself as Prima Veritas, “finis intelligentiae affectae circa verum”(117), is in the intellect only as the product of the will’s antecedent upsurge toward God revealed as Prima Veritas, “finis omnium desideriorum” (II-II, q. 4, a.2 ad 3). This upsurge is of the “substance of faith” and forms its root, and finds its organic completion in the assent. And both upsurge and ascent unite into a single libere moveri in Deum, “res summa et una lux felicitatis aeternae”(118). This sketchy analysis of the dogmatic notion of faith as initium salutis would seem to indicate one conclusion as regards the intimate nature of the ultimate, determining will that issues in the assent of faith, namely that this movement can be considered an obedience, if you will, but an obedience to a new finality imprinted by God Himself on human nature through the faculty of will, in virtue of which the intellect is enabled and inclined to recognize that finality as its own. The motive of this decisive upsurge of the will to God is and must be, from the
nature of faith, the goodness of man’s Last End itself. Only this motive could specify the whole libere moveri in Deum, which is faith, as man’s inchoative orientation of himself to his Last End, - the initium salutis.
To return now to Scheeben. The point I query is this: can the pius credulitatis affectus conceived as a formal obedience constitute that peculiar upsurge of the will to God which is proper to faith as the initium salutis? The difficulty is clear: as a formal obedience, the pius affectus would have as its special object the created good involved in submission to a divine precept, and only out of desire for that particular good would be directed to God as man’s Last End. But such is not the voluntary motion whereby one’s orientation of oneself to one’s Last End is accomplished. By very definition, a Last End is to be desired and willed for its own sake; to desire and will it in virtue of an antecedent will towards some created, particular good (such as that contained in a formal obedience) is no longer to desire and will it as Last End. Consequently, if the pius affectus be conceived as a formal obedience, it does not appear how it could specify faith as a voluntary, inchoative ordination of oneself to one’s Last End. It might indeed specify faith as a rational act of virtue, an act that is conformed to the finality of man’s rational nature as such, but it could hardly confer on faith its unique specification as the acceptance of a new, supernatural finality.
There are other difficulties that might perhaps be brought against Scheeben’s theory, but I think I have said enough to indicate the one point I wished to make, - namely that Scheeben’s motivation of the pius
credulitatis affectus by the imperious authority of God, and his consequent concept of faith as a formal obedience does not seem to satisfy certain essential theological and psychological values of the case. It does not explain that peculiar movement toward God, and attachment to Him, which is the ultimate decisive factor in the production of the assent of faith. Hence I do not think that in the notion of authority as a moral power, of revelation as a strict command, and of faith as a formal obedience, Scheeben has found the key to the solution of the problems that interested him, - to wit, the affective origins of faith, and the unity of the intellectual and voluntary elements in the act.
It seems that his vigorous reactions against liberalism carried him a bit off balance, and led him to exaggerate the notion of obedience in faith. He was indeed keenly, and most laudably anxious to enforce the Vatican condemnation of contemporary errors, but his own theory pushes the Vatican doctrine to limits that are doubtfully legitimate. To this fact we have perhaps the best of possible testimonies, that of Kleutgen, who actually wrote the Vatican decree in substantially the same form as it was approved by the Fathers of the Council(119). Kleutgen dismisses Scheeben’s appeal to the Vatican with the curt remark: “Indessen was man einmal für wahr hält, findet man leicht in den Worten anderer”(120). It was a severe remark, but substantially just. The whole foundation of Scheeben’s theory is in the Vatican sentence, “Cum homo a Deo tamquam et Domino suo totus dependeat, et ratio creata veritati increatae penitus subjecta sit, plenum revelanti Deo intellectus et voluntatis obsequium fide praestare tenemur”(121). The scope of this sentence is thus explained by its sponsor, Conrad Martin, Bishop of Paderborn:
Prima paragraphus in prima sua parte hoc caput nectit cum capite praecedenti . . . .
(Therefore this sentence has the value only of a translation and introduction).
In hac igitur prima capitis parte intentio non erat omens et singula fidei motiva explicare; sed tan tummodo indicanda erat radix sive fundamentalist” ratio obligationis Deo revelanti fidem praestandi. Haec autem radix. . . . aperte posita est in eo, quo Deus sit supremus auctor etc.(122).
This, however, is considerably less than Scheeben asserts. The fundamental reason for the obligation of believing is one thing; the objective motive of the will to believe is quite another. God as Creator and Lord is indeed the fundamental reason for the obligation of hope or charity or religion or any other virtue, but their objective motives remain yet to be determined.
Similarly with regard to the other phrase which apparently supports Scheeben’s contention “actus(fidei) est opus ad salutem pertinens, quo homo liberam praestat ipsi Deo obedientiam”. Since the purpose this paragraph is to define the liberty of faith against the Hermesians (123), one cannot forthwith interpret the term “obedience” in a formal sense. As matter of fact, as St. Thomas says, even charity “sine obedientia esse non potest” (II-II, q. 104, a. 3 c), but its act is not therefore a formal act of obedience nor its formal object a strict precept.
Nor are Scheeben’s Scripture texts any more conclusive. St. Thomas, for example, gives this exegesis of Romans 1, 5 (“ad obediendum fidei”):
In his obedientia habet locum, quae voluntarie facere possumus; his autem quae sunt fidei, ex
voluntate consentimus, cum sint supra rationem; nullus enim credit ensi volens, ut dicit Augustinus, et ideo circa fidem locum habet illud infra 6, 17: Obedistis ex corde in eam formam doctrinae in quam traditi estis(124).
In other words, the element of obedience in faith derives from two sources, the obscurity of the assent, and its consequent voluntary nature. It is a submission of intellect to a specifically magisterial authority, to which submission the intellect is determined by the will. But the actual nature, and the objective motivation of that decisive will remains yet to be determined. Scheeben indeed undertook its determination by a prolongation of the Vatican doctrine, a strict interpretation of the notion of “obsequium” and “obedientia”. I am inclined to think that he would have been better inspired had he taken as his starting point the other phrase which the Vatican borrows from Trent: “Hanc vero fidem, quae humanae salutis initium est....." From this point of view the real nature of the obedience of faith seems to come clearer: it is not merely the acceptance of a divine command from the Creator and Lord of all, but essentially and above all an acceptance of a divine destiny from the Father of mercies. The obedience of faith is not precisely that of Moses receiving the Law on Sinai, but rather that of Abraham going out from country and hearth and kin, into a land that God would show him, but of which he had as yet no vision. And I am inclined to think, too, that from this point of view the sacrificium intellectus, which Scheeben is so fond of stressing, receives a more complete and poignant meaning than Scheeben gives it, for it appears as the sacrifice of the spirit’s inmost
pride, to which Newman saw himself as once victim: “I was not always thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on; I loved to choose and see my path, - but now, lead Thou me on". The human’s spirit’s love of choosing and seeing its path is stronger in proportion as the spirit itself is stronger, and it is this love which faith puts to the knife.
(1) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 631.
(2) Ibid. n. 633.
(3) Ibid. n. 650.
(4) Ibid. n. 660.
(5) Ibid. n. 659.
(6) Ibid. n. 661 (on Heb. 11/1).
(7) Ibid. n. 677.
(8) Ibid. n. 681.
(9) Ibid. n. 689.
(10) Ibid. n. 695.
(11) Ibid. n. 713.
(12) Ibid. n. 717.
(13) Ibid. n. 782.
(14) Ibid. n. 786.
(15) Ibid. n. 791. This is the passage that particularly aroused the ire of the sober Kleutgen, who warns those “on whom such a way of talking makes a great impression” against “the intoxicating effects of this fancied drink” (!). Beilagen III. p. 191.
(16) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 791.
(17) Ibid. n. 793; cf. nn. 640, 678, 805.
(18) Ibid. n. 793.
(19) Ibid. n. 804.
(20) Ibid. n. 793, 805, 819; Kirchenlex. 5, 626. It is interesting to note that Möhler, the last of the “Romantiker” uses the same play on words: “Die Erzeugung (des göttlichen Lebens) sollte eine Ueberzeugung (durch die lebendige Tradition) sein”. Einheit der Kirche, p. 9. Scheeben not seldom cites Möhler (e.g. Dogmatik I, 1, n. 771). However, by temperament and training he had little in common with the “Romantiker”, save a synthetic gift and a felling for “life” in things, which are the endowments of any genius.
(21) Dogmatik I, 1, nn. 804-805.
(22) Ibid. n. 993; cp. nn. 804-805.
(23) Cf. e.g. ibid. n. 769-771, 1018-1023. In n. 769 is a clear reference to Döllinger, with whom Scheeben broke more than one lance.
(24) Ibid. m. 120.
(25) Ibid. n. 769.
(26) Cf. G. Goyau, L’Allemagne reliqieuse: Le Catholicisme (1800-1870), t. 4; ch. 6: Les crises intellectuelles; and ch. 7: L’Allemagne et le Concile du Vatican.
(27) Cf. H. Brosch, Das Werden des jungen Scheeben. St. der Zeit 123 (1932) pp. 405-406.
(28) Cf. D. Oek. Conc. II, 224-225, 230, 234, 238, 284; III, 253, - on the penetration of rationalism and liberalism into Catholic minds.
(29) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 64; D. Oek. Conc. II, 130-131.
(30) Grabmann’s formula for Scheeben’s theological life-work: Introduction to Natur und Gnade p. 9.
(31) 1) Die Infallibilitätshetze, D. Oek. Conc. I, 229-242. 2) Die Bewegung gegen die päpstliche Unfehlbarkeit in Deutschland, ibid. II, 416-430. 3) Die theologische and praktische Bedeutung des Dogma von der Unfehlbarkeit des Papstes, besonders in seiner Beziehung auf die heutige Zeit, ibid. II, 505-546. 4) Same article continued: Die ünfehlbarkeit des Papstes and der katholische Glaube, ibid. III, 212-263.
(32) Scheeben takes the phrases “die öffentliche Meinung” and “das Priesterthum der historischen Wissenschaft” from Döllinger’s famous speech at the Munich assembly in 1863, - cf. Kleinere Schriften von J. J. Ign. von Döllinger, hrsg. von Reusch (Stuttgart 1890), p. 184. Also Scheeben, D. Oek. Conc. I. 118. 126; Dogmatik_ I, 1, n. 1010.
(33) D. Oek. Conc. II, 421.
(34) Ibid. II, 539-546 (on the nature of heresy).
(35) Dogmatik, I, 1, n. 741.
(36) Certain details concerning the composition of the Dogmatik are to be had from the Scheeben-Herder correspondence, preserved in the Herder archives. Some of these details have been brought forward by Dr. Julius Dorneich in his article: “Matthias Joseph Scheeben and Benjamin Herder”, Tüb. Theol. Quartalschrift, 1936, pp. 1-42. Dr. Dorneich kindly placed the whole correspondence at my disposal in Freiburg. The following are the interesting points. The first decision to write a dogmatic manual appears in 1867, after Scheeben rejected his original plan to write a moral hand-book. Sometime in 1868 “the first stone was laid. Progress was made only in spurts, due to sickness, other duties (with the “Katholik” and the diocesan “Pastoralblatt”), and chiefly “through the ‘Konzilskrieg’ into which I have been drawn against my expectations and wishes” (letter of 12. Nov. 1870). Yet in January, 1869, he hoped to have the first part finished by Easter; in April the date was pushed forward to “autumn”. In September he reports that a section could be ready for printing in January, but thinks it advisable to wait “until the dogmatic development in the Council, at least in its general nature, can be judged, in order to see whether anything important for the finished part is to be expected from the Council” (letter of 26. Nov. 1869). But from then on the “Periodische Blätter” claimed his whole time and attention until January, 1871. In November 1871 he reports that the “first part of Book I” could be ready for the press in January. But sickness again hindered the work. And in May 1872 he writes that “my whole earlier work displeased me on closer examination, and I have begun to do the; whole thing over almost entirely” (letter of 28. May 1872). And it was not until March 1873 that he sent in the first batch of manuscript. The”, “Erste Abtheilung” was finished finally in December 1873. All in all, one’s impression is that Scheeben must have been a prodigious worker; the sheer amount of things he turned out in the’: five years from 1868-1873 is tremendous. That he must have written very fast is clear, but it is no less clear that he was a stern critic of his own work, and revised incessantly. He reports, for instance, that he rewrote the whole section on the teaching office of the Church “three and in part four times” (letter of 1872, undated). Other parts of the Dogmatik received similar treatment, as he wrote himself into larger, more synthetic views for which he was always searching.
(37) Herder objected to his interruption of the Dogmatik. Scheeben answers:
“Die Dogmatik musste naturlich einstweilen bleiben, weil ich die Periodische Blatter ganz allein schreiben musste. Doch tragen these Arbeiten wesentlich dazu bei, einen grossen Teil der Dogmatik nachher vollkommener and zeitgemassiger zu bearbeiten and die Ausfuhrung zu erleichtern” (undated letter, doubtless written in 1870). And again (letter of 5. Jan. 1871) “Meine Arbeiten an den Per. Bl., die ich in diesem Monate abschliesse, haben mich zwar etwas von der unmittelbaren Arbeit an der Dogmatik abgehalten, aber mittelbar derselben viel genutzt, weil sie mir allerlei Ideen aufgeschlossen oder abgeklart haben, namentlich solche, welche den ersten Theil betreffen”.
(38) 1) Die dogmatische Constitution de fide catholica, D. Oek. Conc. II, 118-138. 2) Erläuterungen zu der dogmatischen Constitution de fide catholica, ibid. II, 217-285.
(39) Ibid. III, 232.
(40) Ibid. II, 241.
(41) Ibid. III, 238-239. He adds his favorite thought: “Hence the liberalistic deformation and denial of the Catholic concept of faith comes to a point in the attack on the supreme and infallible teaching power of the Pope” (p. 239).
(42) Ibid. II, 529 ff.; III, 235. Cp. Dogmatik I, 1, nn. 765, 769.
(43) D. Oek. Conc. II, 242.
(44) Ibid. III, 252-253; ibid. 138.
(45) Ibid. II, 240
(46) d. Oek. Conc. II, 241.
(47) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 60.
(48) Ibid. n. 56.
(49) Ibid. n. 59.
(50) Cp. D. Oek. Conc. “(revelation is) a sovereign law for his thought, issued by his Creator and Lord, and an imperious rule for his judgment, given by the Eternal Truth as the Queen of all minds”.
(51) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 62.
(52) This idea must have been that “new view of the whole doctrine of the teaching church” which “began to dawn” on Scheeben toward the end of 1872, and made him rewrite that whole section of the Dogmatik. Cf. Dorneich, Tüb. Th. Quartals. 1936, p. 24.
(53) Dogmatik I, 1, 64.
(54) Ibid. n. 630; cp. n. 681.
(55) Beilaqen III, p. 49, 52.
(56) Dogmatik II, Vorrede p. vi.
(57) Ibid. I, 1, 689.
(58) D. Oek. Conc. II, 252.
(59) Lugo is indeed strong on the point: cf. De Fide, disp. I, sect. 7, n. 117. A. Schmid terms this parallelism the “Grundanschauung” of Lugo, and distinguishes four expressions of it. He points out that its chief consequence was Lugo’s intro-duction of the motives of credibility into the constitution of faith’s formal object: Untersuchunqen uber den letzten Gewissheitsgrund.... pp. 172 ff.
(60) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 681.
(61) Ibid. n. 647.
(62) Frins likewise terms Lugo’s theory a “begriff lichdeductives Verfahren”, and rejects it as untrue to the psychology of faith: Katholik 1886 I, p. 610.
(63) Dogmatik I, 1, 631.
(64) Ibid. n. 633. He uses the same play on words that we saw in the Natur und Gnade: “Zustimmung Beistimmung”.
(65) Ibid. nn. 667, 825; Kirchenlex. 5, 630.
(66) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 785.
(67) Ibid. nn. 667, 670, 684.
(68) Ibid. n. 782.
(69) Ibid. n. 815.
(70)Ibid. n. 748.
(71) Ibid. n. 782.
(72) Ibid. n. 651.
(73)Cf. e.g. Mazzella, De Virt. Inf. 3, Prop. 26, p. 356.
(74) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 670. It should be remarked that this explicit distinction between the will’s decision to posit the act of faith does not appear verbally in the Kirchenlex. article. Moreover, the metaphor of “root” appears only once (col. 627). Still, the idea of it is suf-ficiently clearly developed in cols. 619-622, 630, 633.
(75) Dogmatik I, 1, nn. 632, 651 et alibi.
(76) Ibid. nn. 648, 649, 651, 667, 670, 689, 771, 785; cp. 700 where the metaphor becomes “inorganic”: “Triebfeder”.
(77) Ibid. n. 689.
(78) Ibid. n. 809. I take occasion to introduce here the characteristic details of Scheeben’s teaching on the liberty of faith; hence there will be no need to return to the subject.
(79) Ibid. n. 811.
(80) Ibid. n. 819.
(81) Ibid. n. 811.
(82) Ibid. n. 812.
(83) Ibid. n. 812.
(84) Ibid. nn. 557, 700.
(85) Ibid. n. 812
(86) Ibid. n. 813.
(87)Ibid. n. 813.
(88)Ibid. nn. 813, 815 bis.
(89) Ibid. n. 813.
(90) Ibid. p. 274, note 2.
(91) Ibid. 634; cp. n. 71.
(92) Ibid. n. 634.
(93)Ibid. p. 274 note 3.
(94)Ibid. n. 637.
(95) Ibid. n. 636.
(96) Ibid. n. 638. The point comes up again in Chapter IV.
(97) Ibid. n. 638.
(98) Ibid. nn. 644, 687, 700 et alibi.
(99) Ibid. nn. 644, 685.
(100) Ibid. nn. 700, 672. And other passages will be cited.
(101)Ibid. n. 670.
(102)Cf. II-II, q. 104, a. 2 c.
(103) D. Oek. Conc. II, 245-6; cp. ibid. III, 233, 239, 241, where the character of faith as a formal obedience is also strongly expressed. This latter locus is interesting in that Scheeben is explaining the obedience of faith in the light of the doctrine on Papal infallibility, - a somewhat_ dubious procedure, as I noted before.
(104) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 671, Cp. D. Oek. Conc. II, 239-240: “In the first paragraph the Council handles the concept and nature of faith in the closest connection with the duty of eliciting it, and precisely in the peculiar character which then obligatory nature of faith gives it, the Council finds both the starting point for the, determination of its nature and one of the most important elements which must be emphasized today”.
(105) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 671.
(106) Ibid. n. 672, 815. 4
(107) Ibid. n. 672.
(108)Ibid. n. 673. Apparently Scheeben himself did not share this suspicion; his interpretations were indeed always benign. And there is perhaps a tribute to the fineness of his theological sense in the fact that this milder view of William’s doctrine (with which incidentally Kleutgen emphatically disagreed: cf. Beilaqen III, p. 93) has been lately espoused by Gardeil (Dict. Th. Cath 3, 2274), who is followed by A. Land (Die Wege der Glaubensbeqründung, Beitr. z. Gesch. d. Phil. u. Theol. d. MA, Bd. 30, ½, pp. 5-6), and G. Englhardt (Die Entwicklung der Glaubenspsychologie, ibid. 4-6, p. 281).
(109) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 673.
(110) Cited ibid. n. 815; from de Trin. lib. 13, c. 2 (ML 42. 1016). The other two references given by Scheeben (de Trin. lib. 13, C. 5, and Epist. 214, n. 29) are false. In fact, there is no n. 29 in Epist. 214.
(111) Discourses to Mixed Congregations, n. 13, p. 274 (ed. 1849).
(112) D. Oek. Conc. II, 138.
(113)Beilagen III, pp. 53-69. To Kleutgen, Scheeben’s requirements for true faith seem exaggerated: ibid. p. 61.
(114) Dogmatik I, 1, n. 754.
(115)E.g. I-II, q. 9, a. 1, and a. 3.
(116) Cf. e.g. I-II, c. 9, a. 4 c: “Necesse est ponere quod in primum motum voluntatis voluntas prodeat ex instinctu alicujus exterioris moventis....”.
(117) Alb. Magn. in III Sent. d. 23, a. 2 ad 3.
(119) Kleutgen was the “certain theologian” mentioned in the minutes of the third session of the Deputation on Faith: Coll. Lac. VII, 1647. Cf. Granderath, Hist. du Conc. du Vatican, II. 2, p. 12,i (Bruxelles 1911).
(120)Beilagen III, p. 105.
(121)On the history of this phrase, cf. Coll. Lac. VII, 72-73 (first schema); ibid. 87 (relation of Simor); ibid. 156-7 (Emend. 3-16); ibid. 166-170; (relation of Martin on emendations); ibid. 193; (second schema). Subsequently only two emen-dations were proposed (nn. 61 and 101, ibid. 226 and 229), and both were rejected (ibid. 241,. relation of Gasser).
(122)Coll. Lac. VII, 166.
(123)Ibid. 87 (relation of Simor on the scope of the new schema, - Martin’s).
(124) In Ep. ad Rom. c. 1, lect. 4.