Three ways to live

Which is your way?

What is faith?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 10:32 pm on Saturday, February 16, 2008

I have been writing a lot about faith and what it means to be justified by it, in conjunction with our study on the book of Romans. So I thought it would be helpful to know how Reformers defined the concept of faith. Michael Patton from “Reclaiming the Mind” blog had recently made an interesting post on this, which I found very helpful. Here I provide a short summary.

Three main aspects of faith: notitia, assensus, and fiducia.

1) Notitia. Content of the faith. Reformers understood that you cannot just have faith, you must have faith in something, your faith must always have a content.
2) Assensus. Confidence that this content is true. As Michael puts it, while notitia claims “Christ rose from the grave,” assensus takes the next step and says, “I am persuaded to believe that Christ rose from the grave.”
3) Fiducia. Trust in the content of the faith to the degree that it changes the way you live. Christ died for our sins (notitia). I believe that Christ died for my sins (notitia + assensus). I place my trust in Christ to save me (fiducia).

I agree with Michael that the churches nowadays seem to lack at least one of these. Notitia and assensus without fiducia is the head knowledge and is widespread among nominal Christians. Lack of assensus is blind faith, trusting in something we are not sure about.

The post made me think about what separates the true Christian faith from false? True faith must always have notitia (quite obvious). It must have fiducia – head knowledge that does not change who you are is not a true faith. What about assensus, can a blind faith be true? I don’t know. What I do know is that such faith will be unstable, it will fluctuate depending on your mood or condition. Despite the fact that we can never be 100% sure about anything, whether science or religion, we must be able to live with at least some degree of uncertainty. My understanding of assensus is that it is the confidence in the decision you make by examining all the facts and alternative explanations about something. Building faith on assensus is like building a house on a strong foundation; yes, you can build your house on sand, but it will crumble after first serious storm.

2 Comments

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Comment by Gregg C

August 25, 2010 @ 11:59 am

First time visit to your site, looking forward to reading more and maybe some future dialog.
God bless.

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Comment by Maggie

April 7, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

I had a minister explain the above subject and like to combine his and your explanation this way:
notitia says: I can see that the object in front of me is a chair.
assensus says: It looks like a solid chair. It can be sat upon.
fiducia says: I will trust, it will carry my weight; therefore I will sit on it.

Notitia may come as we grow and learn to associate words with things of all sorts. Assensus may come as we judge what we experience to be the value of the words and things they describe. But fiducia/trust can only come by “tasting and seeing that God is good”.

Imagining that we know our earthly father. We know what the word “father” means. Maybe he did things that hurt us and we haven’t been able to shed that pain yet. We then may judge the truth that the man who was our father as something negative.
So Notitia is the fact, Assensus is the attitude linked to that fact. And Fiducia may then be scary because we will have to work together with Someone whom we haven’t experienced. We have a head knowledge but our emotions go against that knowledge. So Fiducia needs God’s help more than the others. But when we try out how He will respond to our budding trust, Fiducia may grow and grow.
From personal experience, I dared my faith in Jesus by speaking to strangers about Him which first was very scary. Now it has become a fountain of blessings! He has taught me to trust Him with finances and abuse and He has blessed every instance.

For anyone who wants all the elements of faith, just talk to Him :) Isaiah 50:7&9 and Psalm 56:3 God will help us; …when we are afraid we may trust in Him….all for the asking.

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