The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 26, 2023 - 5:33:29

The interpersonal dimension of belief

Katie van Schaijik, Jun 23, 2015

The quote that popped up in our feed today, from Fides et Ratio, expresses a John-Pauline thought equally characteristic of Newman. Belief is deeper, richer, more beautiful, more revealing of our selves, more practically important than mere knowledge.

Mere knowledge doesn't engage the heart or test the character or lead to communion.

In believing, we entrust ourselves to the knowledge acquired by other people. This suggests an important tension. On the one hand, the knowledge acquired through belief can seem an imperfect form of knowledge, to be perfected gradually through personal accumulation of evidence; on the other hand, belief is often humanly richer than mere evidence, because it involves an interpersonal relationship and brings into play not only a person’s capacity to know but also the deeper capacity to entrust oneself to others, to enter into a relationship with them which is intimate and enduring.

This goes a long way toward explaining how it is that that uneducated young woman, Therese of Lisieux, who died in her early twenties, became a Doctor of the Church. She had activated the "deeper capacity" of human life, by entrusting herself to the Source of all wisdom and knowledge. She lived an intimate communion of love with Him. And He gave the secret of Himself to her, which encompassed the secret of everything else.