Faith Seeks Understanding
14 October 2017 | Tolle Lege
I acknowledge, Lord, and I give thanks that You have created Your image in me, so that I may remember You, think of You, love You. But this image is so effaced and worn away by vice, so darkened by the smoke of sin, that it cannot do what it was made to do unless You renew it and reform it. I do not try, Lord, to attain Your lofty heights, because my understanding is in no way equal to it. But I do desire to understand Your truth a little, that truth that my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand. For I believe this also, that ‘unless I believe, I shall; not understand’. 1
“I believe so that I may understand” (in Latin, credo ut intelligam), Anselm of Canterbury famously wrote. In other words, human reason unaided by grace cannot draw us near to God, but it is not given to us for no cause. Faith and reason are by no means in adversity. Rather, faith enables us to use our minds. It is no surprise then, that Scripture itself describes Christian maturity in terms of an ability to understand the proper teaching. Paul writes that we should not be children “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14, ESV). Similarly, the author of Hebrews exhorts his readers that they ought to be teachers, but they need instead spiritual milk (Heb 5:12–6:2).
This blog was born out of the conviction that to use reason is a natural fruit of faith. Reason is a tool given us by God, so that we may learn more about Him. In that general sense every Christian should be a theologian, for every believer should desire to know God more and to study His Word. Some Christians are also called to pursue theology as an academic vocation. Though it is not something all Christians need to or should do, it is a vocation by all means helpful to the entire church. In our apprehension, seeking understanding is not limited only to the study of the Bible and theology, however. Many other fields of knowledge and academic disciplines are useful for Christians.
We hope that the blog of Tolle Lege Institute is going to be a place for seeking understanding in various ways. Our main area of interest is the theology and history of the Reformation, but we are not limiting ourselves to these subjects. We are interested also in biblical studies and Christian thought broadly understood. Our blog is bilingual: Polish-English. We plan to make available some resources of the English-speaking world in Polish, but also to bring some Polish perspective into the English discourse.
We aim to publish articles which are in accord with the statutory objectives of Tolle Lege Institute. Some texts will be written by our editorial team, others by guest writers who may not always agree with us. Our aim is to stimulate a discussion and create a space in which faith may seek understanding.
- St Anselm, Proslogion, trans. M. J. Charlesworth (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), p. 115. ↩