QUESTION 6: OF THE CAUSE OF FAITH
We must now consider the cause of faith, under which head there are two
points of inquiry:
(1) Whether faith is infused into man by God?
(2) Whether lifeless faith is a gift of God?
Article 1: Whether faith is infused into man by God?
Objection 1: It would seem that faith is not infused into man by God. For
Augustine says (De Trin. xiv) that "science begets faith in us, and
nourishes, defends and strengthens it." Now those things which science
begets in us seem to be acquired rather than infused. Therefore faith
does not seem to be in us by Divine infusion.
Objection 2: Further, that to which man attains by hearing and seeing, seems
to be acquired by him. Now man attains to belief, both by seeing
miracles, and by hearing the teachings of faith: for it is written (Jn. 4:53): "The father . . . knew that it was at the same hour, that Jesus
said to him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house";
and (Rm. 10:17) it is said that "faith is through hearing." Therefore man
attains to faith by acquiring it.
Objection 3: Further, that which depends on a man's will can be acquired by
him. But "faith depends on the believer's will," according to Augustine
(De Praedest. Sanct. v). Therefore faith can be acquired by man.
On the contrary, It is written (Eph. 2:8,9): "By grace you are saved
through faith, and that not of yourselves . . . that no man may glory . .
. for it is the gift of God."
I answer that, Two things are requisite for faith. First, that the
things which are of faith should be proposed to man: this is necessary in
order that man believe anything explicitly. The second thing requisite
for faith is the assent of the believer to the things which are proposed
to him. Accordingly, as regards the first of these, faith must needs be
from God. Because those things which are of faith surpass human reason,
hence they do not come to man's knowledge, unless God reveal them. To
some, indeed, they are revealed by God immediately, as those things which
were revealed to the apostles and prophets, while to some they are
proposed by God in sending preachers of the faith, according to Rm.
10:15: "How shall they preach, unless they be sent?"
As regards the second, viz. man's assent to the things which are of
faith, we may observe a twofold cause, one of external inducement, such
as seeing a miracle, or being persuaded by someone to embrace the faith:
neither of which is a sufficient cause, since of those who see the same
miracle, or who hear the same sermon, some believe, and some do not.
Hence we must assert another internal cause, which moves man inwardly to
assent to matters of faith.
The Pelagians held that this cause was nothing else than man's
free-will: and consequently they said that the beginning of faith is from
ourselves, inasmuch as, to wit, it is in our power to be ready to assent
to things which are of faith, but that the consummation of faith is from
God, Who proposes to us the things we have to believe. But this is false,
for, since man, by assenting to matters of faith, is raised above his
nature, this must needs accrue to him from some supernatural principle
moving him inwardly; and this is God. Therefore faith, as regards the
assent which is the chief act of faith, is from God moving man inwardly
Reply to Objection 1: Science begets and nourishes faith, by way of external
persuasion afforded by science; but the chief and proper cause of faith
is that which moves man inwardly to assent.
Reply to Objection 2: This argument again refers to the cause that proposes
outwardly the things that are of faith, or persuades man to believe by
words or deeds.
Reply to Objection 3: To believe does indeed depend on the will of the believer: but man's will needs to be prepared by God with grace, in order that he may be raised to things which are above his nature, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Article 2: Whether lifeless faith is a gift of God?
Objection 1: It would seem that lifeless faith is not a gift of God. For it is
written (Dt. 32:4) that "the works of God are perfect." Now lifeless
faith is something imperfect. Therefore it is not the work of God.
Objection 2: Further, just as an act is said to be deformed through lacking
its due form, so too is faith called lifeless [informis] when it lacks
the form due to it. Now the deformed act of sin is not from God, as
stated above (FS, Question , Article , ad 2). Therefore neither is lifeless faith
Objection 3: Further, whomsoever God heals, He heals wholly: for it is written
(Jn. 7:23): "If a man receive circumcision on the sabbath-day, that the
law of Moses may not be broken; are you angry at Me because I have healed
the whole man on the sabbath-day?" Now faith heals man from unbelief.
Therefore whoever receives from God the gift of faith, is at the same
time healed from all his sins. But this is not done except by living
faith. Therefore living faith alone is a gift of God: and consequently
lifeless faith is not from God.
On the contrary, A gloss on 1 Cor. 13:2 says that "the faith which lacks
charity is a gift of God." Now this is lifeless faith. Therefore lifeless
faith is a gift of God.
I answer that, Lifelessness is a privation. Now it must be noted that
privation is sometimes essential to the species, whereas sometimes it is
not, but supervenes in a thing already possessed of its proper species:
thus privation of the due equilibrium of the humors is essential to the
species of sickness, while darkness is not essential to a diaphanous
body, but supervenes in it. Since, therefore, when we assign the cause of
a thing, we intend to assign the cause of that thing as existing in its
proper species, it follows that what is not the cause of privation,
cannot be assigned as the cause of the thing to which that privation
belongs as being essential to its species. For we cannot assign as the
cause of a sickness, something which is not the cause of a disturbance in
the humors: though we can assign as cause of a diaphanous body, something
which is not the cause of the darkness, which is not essential to the
Now the lifelessness of faith is not essential to the species of faith,
since faith is said to be lifeless through lack of an extrinsic form, as
stated above (Question , Article ). Consequently the cause of lifeless faith is
that which is the cause of faith strictly so called: and this is God, as
stated above (Article ). It follows, therefore, that lifeless faith is a gift
Reply to Objection 1: Lifeless faith, though it is not simply perfect with the
perfection of a virtue, is, nevertheless, perfect with a perfection that
suffices for the essential notion of faith.
Reply to Objection 2: The deformity of an act is essential to the act's species,
considered as a moral act, as stated above (FP, Question , Article , ad 2; FS,
Question , Article ): for an act is said to be deformed through being deprived of
an intrinsic form, viz. the due commensuration of the act's
circumstances. Hence we cannot say that God is the cause of a deformed
act, for He is not the cause of its deformity, though He is the cause of
the act as such.
We may also reply that deformity denotes not only privation of a due
form, but also a contrary disposition, wherefore deformity is compared to
the act, as falsehood is to faith. Hence, just as the deformed act is not
from God, so neither is a false faith; and as lifeless faith is from God,
so too, acts that are good generically, though not quickened by charity,
as is frequently the case in sinners, are from God.
Reply to Objection 3: He who receives faith from God without charity, is healed
from unbelief, not entirely (because the sin of his previous unbelief is
not removed) but in part, namely, in the point of ceasing from committing
such and such a sin. Thus it happens frequently that a man desists from
one act of sin, through God causing him thus to desist, without desisting
from another act of sin, through the instigation of his own malice. And
in this way sometimes it is granted by God to a man to believe, and yet
he is not granted the gift of charity: even so the gift of prophecy, or
the like, is given to some without charity.