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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K021-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 25, 2024, from

Article Summary

Faith became a topic of discussion in the Western philosophical tradition on account of its prominence in the New Testament, where the having or taking up of faith is often urged by writers. The New Testament itself echoes both Hellenistic concepts of faith and older biblical traditions, specifically that of Abraham in the Book of Genesis.

The subsequent attention of philosophers has been focused primarily on three topics: the nature of faith, the connection between God’s goodness and human responsibility, and the relation of faith to reason. Discussions on the nature of faith, from Aquinas to Tillich, have tried to examine the subject in terms of whether it is a particular form of knowledge, virtue, trust and so on. Regarding divine goodness, the argument has primarily focused on the relationship between faith and free will, and whether lack of faith is the responsibility of the individual or of God. Concerning the relation between faith and reason, there are two quite separate issues: the relation of faith to theorizing, and the rationality of faith. Aquinas in particular argued that faith is a necessary prerequisite for reasoning and intellectual activity, while later, John Locke explored the relationship between faith, reason and rationality, and concluded that faith can be reached through reason. This latter viewpoint was later heavily criticized by Wittgenstein and his followers.

Citing this article:
Wolterstorff, Nicholas P.. Faith, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K021-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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