Tuesday, June 30, 2009

St. Thomas on Justification - Grace causes faith

Writing on the question of whether lifeless faith can become living faith (which he affirms), St. Thomas addresses the following Objection:

Objection 3. Further, God's grace, by its advent, has no less effect in a believer than in an unbeliever. Now by coming to an unbeliever it causes the habit of faith. Therefore when it comes to a believer, who hitherto had the habit of lifeless faith, it causes another habit of faith in him. [ST II-II, Q4, A4]

Aquinas replies:

Reply to Objection 3. Grace causes faith not only when faith begins anew to be in a man, but also as long as faith lasts. For it has been said above (I, 104, 1; I-II, 109, 9) that God is always working man's justification, even as the sun is always lighting up the air. Hence grace is not less effective when it comes to a believer than when it comes to an unbeliever: since it causes faith in both, in the former by confirming and perfecting it, in the latter by creating it anew. [ibid., ad 3; emphasis added]

God causes our faith, and God causes our justification; it is never caused by anything that we do, but rather by his grace. Those who say that we believe otherwise are badly misinformed. We cannot save ourselves.

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