Necessary Marriage

Although Peter Aureoli and Gregory of Rimini had their followers, many theologians saw the need for both approaches to theology. Peter of Candia, who lectured on the Sentences of Lombard at Paris in 1378-1380, criticized both authors to the degree that they stressed only one side of the theological challenge. For Peter of Candia, both approaches were necessary and legitimate. We can consider the divine revelation as containing explicit truths or we can consider it as providing principles that can be further understood by being made more explicit. We cannot think of declarative and deductive theology as though they are two distinct opposed theologies. We should rather speak of them as two legitimate and necessary theological habits or abilities that should be developed by all well-balanced theologians.

All the truths of the faith are not explicitly contained in the Scriptures; that is why the Fathers of the Church and the Councils had to make them explicit. In doing so, they practiced deductive theology. Still, not all doctrines are clear in themselves. At times, when dealing with the Trinity, words such as "person," "nature," and "substance" need to be defined. Distortions coming from heretical teachings need to be corrected. And even though we accept God's revelation because of the gift of faith; still, arguments confirm and strengthen our faith. Faith is fundamental. We do not accept revealed truths because of the arguments presented—yet the arguments are not useless. That is why St. Augustine encouraged his readers to pursue "that knowledge by which our most wholesome faith, which leads to true happiness, is begotten, nourished, defended and strengthened."

Faith is a gift of grace, but it is also helped by good example, by preaching, by argument, and many other human efforts. God can and does give his gifts through human instruments. As Aquinas put it, "science begets and nourishes faith by way of external persuasion . . . , but the chief proper cause of faith is that which moves man inwardly to assent." God uses human instruments, such as preachers and teachers, to beget, nourish, defend, and strengthen faith. Yet such instruments are not sufficient on their own to produce faith. If they were, then every competent preacher would be effective in leading his listeners to affirm the faith and every able teacher would be successful in his efforts to defend and strengthen the faith. Theology in none of its forms provides the evidence for the assent of faith. The affirmations of revealed truth are based on the gift of faith. Peter of Candia poses his question concerning the nature of theology in these precise terms: "Does the intellect of human beings here in this world acquire through theological study evident knowledge of revealed truths?" And his formal answer is: "Through theological study only declarative and faith-extending habits are developed, and through these developed abilities no evident knowledge of the articles of the faith is acquired." This statement well summarizes the efforts of medieval theologians to explain what they hoped to attain in their classes of theology and the habits they hoped to develop there.

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