I Believe

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I Believe - God

"By faith, man completely submits his intellect and will to God." (Catholic Catechism, 143).

The object of Christian faith is God and His revelation.  Through faith a person conforms his intellect and will to God and what He has revealed through word and action.  In this section we provide an introduction to Christian belief.


If you sit down next to a person who you do not know you can obtain some knowledge about him by simply observing him.  By the way he dresses you could possibly figure out his occupation.  You could observe if he is married by checking if he has a wedding ring.  By the countenance of his face you could perceive his general mood.  If you could not speak to him directly you could ask about him from someone who knows him.  However, until he actually spoke and revealed himself it would be difficult to truly learn about him and come to know him as the unique and unrepeatable person that he is.

Knowledge of God is obtained by somewhat similar means.  God is pure Spirit so He cannot be seen, but through observation of material creation we can discern certain truths about God.  This is called natural theology.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of his eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made” (Romans 1:20).  The ancient philosophers discovered many of God's attributes by observing creation, such as His unity, eternity, spirituality, power, and supreme intelligence.  Aristotle called God the Intelligence of intelligence.

There are certain truths about God which can be known with certainty by human reason alone, however, due to God being pure spirit, being far superior to human intelligence, and due to our often fallible intellects, unless we are taught about God from someone who knows Him, or even better, God reveals Himself personally, we cannot know many things about God.

Christians believe that God has indeed revealed Himself.  He communicated to people throughout history who in turn revealed God to others, as recorded in the Old Testament.  Most of all, God revealed himself through the Son.

Christians call this communication from God "divine revelation."  The word “revelation” means, “to remove the veil.”  Through this revelation God has communicated Himself and the decrees of His will.  Christians call all of God’s divine revelation the "Deposit of Faith.”  The Deposit of Faith consists of Scripture and Tradition, which is authentically interpreted, guarded, and transmitted by the Roman Catholic Church.

There are certain truths revealed by God that can be understood by human reason, truths such as the Ten Commandments.  Then there are certain truths revealed by God that man would have never known and that far exceed the ability of human reason to completely understand, truths such as God's will for man to share in His divine nature and that God is a Trinity.  All of God's revelation is necessary for salvation and was revealed by God so that all people will know with certitude who God is and what man must do to attain salvation.

Christians believe that the fullness of God's revelation came in Jesus of Nazareth.  In Jesus the obstacles to knowing God are diminished - not eliminated - by the fact that the Son has seen the invisible God, "No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him," (John 1:18) and that the Son is God, "He is the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15).  In Jesus, there is no intermediary person between God's revelation and man's reception.  In Jesus Christ God did not only speak a word, but the eternal Word of God became a man and dwelt among us so that those who would accept him would become children of God (John 1:1-11).

Faith is a Gift From God

When the eternal Word of God became a man in Jesus Christ and lived upon the earth as one of us, people could not comprehend His true identity.  God, even Jesus the God-man, is the completely "other."  God is an unfathomable mystery; known imperfectly by the light of reason, known more fully, yet still partially, by the light of faith.

Jesus asked His disciples; “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Mt 16:13).  It was only by a revelation from the Heavenly Father that Peter confessed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16).  Jesus told Peter that flesh and blood did not reveal this to him.  This is Jesus' reply to everyone who believes Jesus to be the Son of God, "flesh and blood has not revealed this to you."

Only the Father knows the Son and only the Son knows the Father (Mt 11:27), which is one reason why Christian belief in God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a grace - a free and unmerited gift from God.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him (CCC, 153).  This is called the Theological Virtue of Faith.  The grace of faith acts upon the intellect so the person can accept as true what God has revealed.

A person’s faith can grow stronger or weaker or can even be a faith that is dead; a faith not acted upon through good works or completed by charity.  St. James taught this when he wrote, "For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).  St. Paul confirms this fact when he wrote, "And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:2). 

Even though faith not acted upon is dead and not meritorious of the Kingdom of God, the knowledge obtained through belief in God's revelation is very important for the Christian.  It sustains the Christian during spiritual crises and moral lapse and urges one to repent and turn back to God (Christian Faith & the Theological Life, pg. 145).

Christian Faith is a gift from God.  The Theological Virtue of Faith brings us into a true union with the Trinity, which is something only God can accomplish, but it is also a human act.  Grace precedes any human initiative and is essential to the cause of one's faith, but one must cooperate in bringing his intellect and will into union with God and His revelation.  Faith in God and His revelation is a human act and because of this it is meritorious and God gratuitously rewards it.

Belief is Conversion

In An Introduction to Christianity, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, beautifully reminds us that the original context of Christian Faith was in the Sacrament of Baptism (pg. 88).  The bishop or priest would ask the person if he believed in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and if he renounced Satan, his lies, and his works.  The person would say, “I do.”

The person would then be put under the water three times and brought out of the water three times.  Going under the water symbolized death (drowning) and coming out symbolized a resurrection to new life.  As Christians we know that the sacraments are more than symbols, that they bring about what they symbolize by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The ceremony of Christian Baptism emphasizes the fact that Christian belief is a profound conversion.  It is an assent and a renunciation.  It is accepting the invisible as greater than the visible.  It is dying to a sinful way of life and the beginning of a new way of life.  It is a life in union with the Trinity and the will of God, accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit and merited by Jesus Christ.  This newness of life is the result of and manifestation of Jesus' redemption.

The teaching that Christian belief is a profound conversion - a change in thinking, desiring, and acting - helps one to understand the depth of Jesus' words at the beginning of his ministry: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).

Christian Faith

The Hebrew root word for belief is, “mn” (amen).  Its meaning is rich and includes the meanings: truth, firm ground, entrust oneself, and to take a stand.  Thus, Christian belief is to entrust oneself to God and what He has revealed, especially Jesus Christ.  Christian belief is trusting God, contrary to Adam and Eve who let their trust in their Father die in their hearts (CCC, 397).

The Church further defines Christian belief as a deep conviction by which man completely submits his intellect and will to God and His divine revelation (CCC,143).

John Paul II gives an amazing teaching on Christian Faith in the following words:

Through faith, man abandons his whole self to this God who reveals himself to him and then, while he receives the gift 'from on high,' he responds to God with the gift of his humanity.  Thus with the obedience of reason and will to God who reveals, a new way of existing in relationship with God begins for the whole human person” (God, Father and Creator, pg. 46).

This new way of existing is nothing less than living in union with God through accepting His revelation in faith and being transformed by this knowledge and the union it brings with God and His divine life.



Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004).

John Paul II, A Catechisis on The Creed: God, Father and Creator (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1996).

Romanus Cessario, Christian Faith & the Theological Life (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996).


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