Faith and Reason

Carl L. Beckwith

in Hilary of Poitiers on the Trinity

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551644
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720789 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Faith and Reason

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Hilary uses Book One of De Trinitate to advance a theological agenda that both apologetically articulates his own theological method and polemically critiques and exaggerates the method of his opponents. The two principal themes highlighted by Hilary are the relationship between faith and reason in acquiring theological knowledge and the normative role of scripture in such a discussion. Although Hilary acknowledges that his various opponents theoretically ground their insights in scripture and give priority to faith, he argues that in practice their theological assertions reveal that they follow not scripture but natural reason. Hilary's polemical charge is that they rely on themselves and their rational insights rather than God and his revelation.

Although Hilary's theological method serves a polemical purpose, it also addresses the criticism that he advanced a simple fideism when faced with difficult theological questions in his original De Fide. Hilary uses the opportunity to revise his works in 358 to address this criticism and develop a nuanced understanding of faith and reason. This chapter looks at Hilary's revised argument on faith and reason and his endorsement of a “heavenly reason” guided by faith.

Keywords: faith; reason; scripture; Homoians; Photinians; philosophy

Chapter.  6010 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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