Five Pillars Week: Reza Aslan on Faith

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This segment originally aired live on July 16, 2013. That original audio is posted here, although an edited version was included as part of a best-of Brian Lehrer Show episode on December 27. 

It's Five Pillars of Islam week on The Brian Lehrer Show. Every day this week, we're hosting an interfaith conversation based around the Five Pillars: Shahadah (faith), Salat (prayer), Sawm (Ramadan), Zakat (charity) and Hajj (pilgrimage). Today: we'll talk to our guest and take calls on Shahadah (faith) in relation to Islam and all the major monotheistic religions. Reza Aslan, associate professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside and author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, 2013), talks about his book on the "historical" Jesus. 


Reza Aslan

Comments [56]

Paul from NY

Over the course of time, human beings lost their ability to be more mystically connected to the higher spiritual worlds (and not, as science would have it, because they became ever more intelligent. They actually lost much of that intelligence as they became more dualistic and more reductionist in their attitudes towards "reality" and in the way they perceived it. So while many might bemoan the reductionist attitudes inherent in the sciences, it was already under way in the choice humans made to reduce all spiritual reality to a single source, as in monotheism. Of course, since spiritual beings have always helped us from the other side, and given peoples what they needed at any particular time and place, all so-called religions have come into being ("revealed") to address various needs. Thank goodness for the mystics for bookmarking our spiritual reality!

Dec. 27 2013 10:19 AM

Mr. Reza misses the point of Jesus' ministry on this earth. Jesus was never violent. He never even picked a weapon nor did he even attempted to take the throne, nor did he even asked anyone else to do it for him.

Here is an event where we see Jesus' reaction to the desire of the people after he fed more than 5000 people.
John 6:
14 The people saw the powerful work Jesus had done. They said, “It is true! This is the One Who speaks for God Who is to come into the world.”
15 Jesus knew they were about to come and take Him to make Him king, so He went to the mountain by Himself.

Aug. 10 2013 12:45 AM

I have been meaning to retract, at least in part, my initial post dated Jul. 16 2013 11:19 AM. Having listened to this as well as all of the other segments in this "Pillars" series, I realized that there were several mentions of Tisha b'Av.

Jul. 28 2013 12:33 PM

(continued from previous post)

4.) I /am/, however, quite concerned about some of the extremist, militant strains of /Zionism/ that are found among many fundamentalist Christians. At least some of these Christian Zionists go so far as to call upon the State of Israel to destroy the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim holy site that lies atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and re-build the Holy Temple. To the best of my knowledge, among the /Jewish/ or /Israeli/ establishment, it is only the radical-most /fringe/ that share such an /extremist/, /dangerous/ position. Even for the right-wing, such groups lie well outside of the mainstream.

(Let me also note that merely /setting-foot/ upon the Temple Mount is strictly and severely forbidden for Jews today, when it is not possible for us to attain the requisite status of ritual purity.)

Jul. 19 2013 06:31 PM

@ Susan from NYC (Jul. 16 2013 12:22 PM):

As an Orthodox Jew, I am well aware of the painful and troubled history that you cite. Nonetheless, I cannot see how any good can come out of posts like yours and the attitude that is conveyed in it.

Some points:

1.) The situation today is very different.

Mainstream Christianity has renounced hatred and persecution of Jews. (As far as I know, any Christian elements today that still preach collective hatred of Jews are /fringe/ and cannot be considered normative.)

2.) Even in the past, as was pointed-out in one of "jgarbuz"s posts, there were Christians who were good to Jews, some going so far as to endure great hardship and risk their own lives in order to save Jews.

3.) Any Jew who is loyal to authentic Judaism must appreciate what an indispensable ally traditionalist Christians are in the cultural wars that have been raging and, increasingly, eating away at the very core of society.

(Actually, one need not be religious or even traditionalist, /per se/, to be less than comfortable about certain aspects, at least, of the "progressive" agenda. Those that are so manifestly, empirically pernicious and corrosive-- from even a completely /secular/, /universal/ perspective. But we now have an almost an entire generation whose minds and consciences have been corrupted by the extensive indoctrination and socialization that they were subjected-to, in schools, the media, and the culture at large.)


Jul. 19 2013 06:27 PM

I was utterly shocked at the wild statements this person was making about the historical Jesus. This isn't history, it's a Dan Brown novel. There is absolutely no evidence that Jesus was a Zealot, it is based on one reference in the gospels. To assert he was a "nationalist" whatever this author chooses to mean by that, again is completely without validity. To say that he would have only have been exposed to Judaism is purely an assumption, people travelled widely in this period and there were many faiths practiced in the region. We know nothing *with certainty* about the man Jesus, how he lived or what he actually thought, because there is no HISTORICAL RECORD of it outside of the gospels. There are no court records, there are no testimonials by third parties, there are no biographies outside of the NT and apocryphal documents, there are only TWO brief references to his sect at all in his time. This is gobsmacking! Most of this man's "evidence" is a patchwork of facts about the Intertestamental period that he has woven together to create a fictional biography. I don't care about religion or monotheism, this man is a delusional dogmatist and an offence to the discipline of History.

Jul. 18 2013 07:06 PM

Susan - well for one thing Jesus couldn't have been an Essene since He lived in Galilee...

As to what you said made up "Christianity" - well it happened during Roman persecution that the Gentiles who were starting to follow the Messiah were becoming increasingly separated from their Jewish forebears... as that happened - more "philosophies" were melded into the religion... but that's NOT what the original followers took part in... including Paul/Saul of Tarsus...

Jul. 17 2013 06:56 PM
Ed from Larchmont

In the Gospel of Mark, after Jesus heals a person or casts out an evil spirit, he commands the spirit not to identify him. But after Jesus dies on the Cross the centurion cries out 'Indeed this was the Son of God.'

Mark's purpose is to show that Jesus' identity is seen fully only at the Cross.

So the speaker is correct in that there aren't direct statement in Mark about Jesus' Messiahship, but he's incorrect in that they are there indirectly, and that they lead up to the centurion's statement near the end of the Gospel. Mark was a companion of Peter in Rome, among the Gentiles, so this is appropriate for his Gospel.

The Muslims do believe in the assumption of Jesus into heaven, but they don't believe that he was crucified (it was a look-a-like) since God would not allow that to happen. They also believe that Jesus and Mary are the only two sinless people, not even Muhammed. Odd beliefs.

Jul. 17 2013 05:44 AM

@ "Carolita from carolita":

What about all the Christians who stood against economic predation and injustice?

Dorothy Day, William Jennings Bryan are just two names that come to mind. Given the time, I could come-up with many more.

The late Pope John Paul II admonished that unbridled, hedonistic capitalism is no better than Communism.

Are you familiar with the declarations of the Catholic Bishops on economic and social justice?

(Also, might you have meant to have written, 'so-called capitalism' or put the word in quotation marks? Or would you actually dispute that what is called 'capitalism' today is a /far cry/ from what Adam Smith advocated and envisaged?)

Jul. 16 2013 01:41 PM
Susan from NYC from NYC

Mr. Aslan tells the story of the historical Jesus of Nazareth in an engaging, popular history. However, while it may have been a "revelation" to him and his book provides interesting details and insights it is not even new to any student of Jewish History of this period including high school students. It was always my understanding that Jesus was likely a member of the Essenes sect or some similar cult and was engaged along with others in fomenting rebellion against Roman authorities and their Judean colluders. He, like at least 100,000 other Judeans, was crucified for his seditious acts. Taken historically or as literature, the various Gospel versions were a mash-up of factual recollections and myths, Jewish theology and beliefs in messianic redemption, Greek mythology (Zeus impregnating various humans sounds a lot like God fathering a son with Mary)and reinventions of Roman holidays to create a Christian religion that was palatable to the Romans (a faith that blamed you for killing "god" would definitely not sell). Better marketing strategy: Blame and demonize the Jews. Islam and Lutheranism/Reformation used a similar marketing strategy centuries later after the Jews rejected what Muhamed and Luther offered to them as a newer, better version of their own brands of monotheism. Unfortunately, due to this clever marketing strategy of the authors of the Gospels and Paul of Tarsus, its first PR account manager, many millions of Jews have been tortured and murdered for over 20 centuries.

Jul. 16 2013 12:22 PM
Oscar from Ny

Jesus could not be touched by anyone for if they did he would heal them , there are many instances where ppl tried to get to him but couldn't including satan. If you read carefully Jesus sent a human that resembled him to the cross, a son of men, this guy took the cross and god promised him heaven for his service. Do you really think Jesus would let those demons smack him around, it is said that by dying in the cross he redeems humans, well because man sometimes can be brave and can die for his friends or loved ones.

Jul. 16 2013 11:26 AM

Back around Passover/Easter time, I recall seeing posts that charged WNYC with disproportionately covering Jewish-themed topics. Perhaps the charge had merit at some point, I don't know.

Now, the BL Show is covering Islam for a whole week.

At the same time, today, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of 'Av', is a fast day that is the culmination of a three-week period of mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. If there was any mention of this Judaic tradition on WNYC, I missed it.

I wonder how many people note a contrast.

Jul. 16 2013 11:19 AM
m from brooklyn

Monotheism and the Sense of Reality
Leonard R. Sillman, M.D.
One of the most striking phenomena in history has been the rise and spread of monotheistic cults since the fall of classical civilization. For almost two thousand years after its adoption by the Jews to the decline of the Roman Empire (circa 1400 B.C.—A.D. 300), the idea of a single abstract God held no general appeal for humanity except for the politically insignificant peoples of Israel. Then there would seem to have developed an urge for some concept of a single God, for within a period of seven hundred years, or from the conversion of Constantine to approximately A.D. 1000, monotheism spread all over Europe, North Africa and the Near East in Christian and Mohammedan forms. At present it is the religious faith of half the peoples of the world and of the politically and culturally advanced societies of Europe and the Americas.
When one considers the vast multitude of religions which the fertile imagination of man has created, one cannot help but wonder why this triumph should have occurred. In this as in so many later discoveries and changes in belief, a premonition of coming events may be found amid the Greeks. Gilbert Murray (11) points out: 'It is curious how near to monotheism, and to monotheism of a very profound and impersonal type, the real religion of Greece came in the sixth and fifth centuries. Many of the philosophers, Xenophanes, Parmenides, and others, asserted it clearly or assumed it without hesitation. Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, in their de
[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Jul. 16 2013 11:17 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Islam is not the Final Revelation.

Scientology is.


Political "Science" belongs in the Psychology department.

Jul. 16 2013 11:14 AM

Thank you for asking your guest about the warrior aspect of Muhammad, but his answer was not very satisfactory and historically inaccurate.

For one, his speculation about Jesus's participation in violence being 'whitewashed' is baseless. To my knowledge Jesus does not kill anyone in any Christian traditions, and the first gospels were in fact written before the Jewish revolt according to the philological evidence, with Mark as early as 95 AD but the Bar Kokhba revolt taking place around 132 AD. There is no evidence of Jesus partaking in any violent acts toward anyone else in any of the earliest versions of the gospels that were found. He quotes one cryptic passage about bringing a sword, but all of Jesus's actions in the Gospels are nonviolent.

On the other hand, the Muhammad of the hadiths does not just say things that are encouragement to violence, but acts violently, participating in the deaths of many people in the Koran and hadiths, as well as sexually enslaving women.

Your guest excuses this by saying that Muhammad was born into a violent time, but the question remains: Why would an all-powerful God put his final prophet, the 'perfect human being' in a situation where he had to kill and enslave people? Why not provide a perfect example of non-violence to humanity?

Jul. 16 2013 11:09 AM

Edward - there were pictures of Jesus/Yeshua for hundreds of years after his death.... why? Most of his early followers were Jewish and they did make pictures for fear of idols also. It wasn't until former pagans started to mingle with Christianity did we start to see pictures of Him. Humans tended to worship objects and images - which the bible forbids... and so His early followers did not want such either.

Jul. 16 2013 11:06 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Monotheism is more abstract and malleable making it easier to integrate into a power structure. That's all. Christianity as we know it would probably not exist today had it not been for Constantine I.

“Of the various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world all were considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.”

Edward Gibbon/The Decline and Fall Of The Roman Empire

Jul. 16 2013 11:03 AM

Pravin - yes Jesus (Yeshua) did teach his followers to be long suffering... but in actuality He was no pacifist at all... read His own words about what will happen to those who rebel against God. "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is not that of a pacifist.

Jul. 16 2013 11:03 AM
Eileen from Jersey City

For me, the concept of One God vs polytheism is an embracing of a more abstract and sophisticated notion of God. A God which encompasses all and exists within us all, without physical form, as opposed to many different gods possessing different aspects of life and death.

Jul. 16 2013 11:01 AM
Ed from Larchmont

I doubt Islam is pantheistic.

Sword- you're picking verses and misinterpreting.

By saying 'I bring not peace, but a sword', Jesus means that there will be conflict between his disciples and others, as there has been.

He said 'get a sword' on the way to his Passion to fulfill the prophecy 'He was counted among the criminals', not as a mandate to violence against the Romans.

The author is right this was a time of occupation by the Romans and a desire to be free of their rule, but it's incorrect to conclude that Jesus was a political zealot.

Jul. 16 2013 11:01 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

It's Ramadan and the warring in Egypt continues.

7 People Die and Hundreds are Injured in Cairo Clashes

Jul. 16 2013 11:00 AM
Andy from Rye, ny

Monotheism - Why would the first commandment specifically say "no other gods before me"? Was that an acknowledgement of other gods or an interpretation/language issue?

Jul. 16 2013 11:00 AM
David from Fairfield CT

Which all that is happening in the U.S. and around the world, we choose to spend a large part of our morning discussing "fairytale" aka religion. Great!

Jul. 16 2013 10:59 AM

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the one and only god.

Jul. 16 2013 10:58 AM
fuva from harlemworld

How does morality -- fundamental principles of right and wrong -- manifest in polytheism?

Jul. 16 2013 10:56 AM
Knowing Logic from New Jersey

Why do we need religion at all? So far all it has done is make for wars and death. Why can't humans just see other humans as humans. Why do they seek to be separate and or superior? Religion has done nothing but bring pain to others.

Jul. 16 2013 10:56 AM
John A

Well at least religious books are getting published. Not sure about this one. It almost sounds like a recruitment tool to take people from Christianity to Islam.

Jul. 16 2013 10:56 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I disagree with Aslan. For the Jews, a Messiah was one who would bring the Jewish nation back to its home and drive the occupiers out! But Jesus began to preach a different message. "Render unto Caesar what is Caeser's, and unto God what is God's." Because Jesus was more interested into the coming "Kingdom of God" rather than restoring the small Kingdom of Israel, he was betrayed by Judas who did not understand or agree with His message. Many Jews simply wanted an end to the Roman occupation and to have freedom and independence again. Most were not looking for pie in the sky, but wanted to have their promised land back in their own hands under their own rule. Ironically, Jesus was crucified with the epiteth "King of the Jews." He was crucified by Romans not because of his religious ideas, but because he was saying that there was a greater king than the Roman emperor. That was treason to the Romans. They could care less about Jewish laws and theology, but only about security and seeing the country remain under Roman rule.

Jul. 16 2013 10:53 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

I don't understand the Muslim prohibition of pictures of Mohammed - as if Mohammed were an incorporeal god/allah.

Jul. 16 2013 10:53 AM
adrienne from UWS

I want to say that in the very beginning of the Torah: "God said: “Let there be light.” And there was light. G-d saw the light, that it was good; and God divided between the light and the darkness. G-d called the light “day” and the darkness He called “night.” It was evening and it was mourning, one day.

Jul. 16 2013 10:53 AM

Perhaps monotheism survived in all three because the one "God" is a symbol of the unity and interconnectedness of all things that we perceive when we look within.

Jul. 16 2013 10:52 AM
Jessie Henshaw from Way Uptown

What you're presenting is someone's personal view of "facts not in the bible", **an associate professor of creative writing** and how that suggests to them all kinds of other vaguely plausible stuff...

---- ignoring that there is a very LARGE and much more in-depth literature on that subject from actual historians!

You might ask him is there are real historians who may have studied the cultural history.

Jul. 16 2013 10:52 AM
Bob Abate from Yonkers, NY

I would like to share a poem I wrote in 1998 which seems to apply all the more so today ...


REALITY BITES: although a new film in '94
Descriptive of life as never before

Bright lights, big city sights, inner-city blight
Violent nights, endless fights ... Reality Bites!
Competition, confrontation, civil rights and slights
Discrimination, Integration, blacks versus whites

Christians, Moslems, Hindus and Jews
All claim/ing to be God's chosen few
And therefore the right to never unite
Demagogues all! - except for "my type"

A "New World Order" ... or Global Disorder?
The Third World in turmoil with fighting and flight
Heard in neat little sound bites night after night
Bosnia, Somalia, Korea, Rwanda, Cuba and Haiti too
Does anyone in Washington have the slightest clue?

What each of us need/s to do
Is LISTEN to other points of view
Because whether we really like it or not
Mother Earth's/is the only planet we've got!

Jul. 16 2013 10:51 AM

Ed from Larchmont - Jesus (Yeshua) did not "create" Christianity. The New Covenant was that which was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah... which still hasn't been fulfilled in it's completeness as He said until He returns. He didn't create a new religion - in fact he was very clear in the gospels when He said "I have not come to destroy the Law (Torah) or the prophets but to fulfill... not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law until all be fulfilled."

What He did say was that His followers would be put out of the mainstream of Judaism because most would not believe He was the Chosen One and Son of God.

Jul. 16 2013 10:50 AM
Pravin from New York

One aspect about Muhammad as a prophet always confused me. As a pacifist, it seems troubling to me that God would choose to put his last prophet in a position where he had to kill and enslave people in order to complete God's will. And unfortunately, that's exactly what Muhammad does in the Qur'an. This is compared to the pacifist examples of the Buddha, of the tirthankaras of Jainism, or of Jesus Christ.

Jul. 16 2013 10:48 AM
carolita from nyc

Monotheism is all about marketing. Period.

Jul. 16 2013 10:48 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Jesus was zealous for God, his Father, but not a political zealot.

Jul. 16 2013 10:47 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Monotheism was a REVOLUTIONARY concept, whose known roots go back to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, but became most stubbornly rooted in the Israelites. How revolutionary this concept was, and how repugnant it was to the surrounding peoples. The Israelites DENIED the other gods of the other peoples, and this was a source of great suffering and chagrin. It was the stubborness of the Jews, who refused to give up this belief no matter how often they were conquered or dispersed, that eventually caused it to prevail in the West.

Jul. 16 2013 10:46 AM
John A

You might as well ask why one house of representatives would be superior to the divided two we have now.

Jul. 16 2013 10:46 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The question is what is real ... Christians believe in Jesus ... because in reality Jesus is God. We're interested in objective reality.

Jesus was not a zealot.

Jul. 16 2013 10:46 AM
2013 from NYC

What ever gave the impression the BL Show was "anti-religion" and what difference does it make if you are Muslim or not Muslim.
Nothing said by BL has ever struck me as offensive to religion.
The listeners are a different story...
I am fairly anti-religion myself, and find this segment interesting if not a bit disappointing. It's 2013!

Jul. 16 2013 10:44 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Our understanding of God has developed as God has revealed himself in history.

Islam takes many ideas from Jewish and Christian theology.

Jesus did create Christianity - the New Covenant. Didn't exist before. It was based on the Jewish faith, of course.

Jul. 16 2013 10:44 AM

Monotheism because ... the fewer gods the better!

Jul. 16 2013 10:44 AM
Neil from Austin

Sufism came out of Persia and is a thin veneer over Persian culture. Aslan should just take the nex logical step and go back to his roots.

Jul. 16 2013 10:44 AM
The Truth from Becky

There is only one God.

Jul. 16 2013 10:44 AM
Joyce from NYC

1. Shahadah (belief or confession of faith)

I know that the theme here is tolerance an we are all the same, but ......

The full meaning of Shahadah (belief or confession of faith) is SUBMISSION to god, which also means NO PERSONAL CRITICAL THINKING.

Jul. 16 2013 10:43 AM

jgarbuz - very thorough synopsis... and yup we see it played out today... but ppl think the Bible is written by mere men - without divine utterance.

You are also correct in what Abraham said...and Jesus (Yeshua) never promised "pie in the sky" either... He said that He would return and bring his kingdom.. and just as God promised -- there would be an everlasting kingdom on (a new) earth from (a new) Jerusalem... not "up in heaven". Jesus/Yeshua was a Hebrew prophet and taught Hebrew concepts.

Jul. 16 2013 10:42 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Monotheism because ... in reality there is only one God.

Jul. 16 2013 10:41 AM

And here it was that I thought Briah Lehrer was anti-religion.... refreshing choice of guest... and i'm not even a Muslim.

Jul. 16 2013 10:39 AM

There is no God....seriously

Jul. 16 2013 10:38 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Carolita

John 15:13

21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

This is the only reason why my mother, and thousands of other Jews were hidden and saved by TRUE Christians during the horrors of the Holocaust! People of true Christian faith who against all logic, reason and the odds, and with horrific consequences for themselves and their families if caught, took such incredible risks for people they otherwise couldn't care less about. And the main reason why I faithfully give to the Jewish Foundation of the Righteous (JFR)which still helps out the handful of such wonderful people still left alive in Eastern Europe. May they rest in peace in the arms of their Saviour.

Jul. 16 2013 10:26 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Atheism is the opium of Socialists.

Jul. 16 2013 10:09 AM
Carolita from carolita

I thought "Speaking of Faith" got changed to "On Being," not "The Brian Lehrer Show."

Like the author, a lot of research (reading the old Vulgate, as well as the writings of the Fathers of the Church, the Patrologia Latina, et al), made me less religious than ever. If the author wants to be helpful, he should point out that whole imitation of Jesus dying for our sins thing is the blueprint for capitalist exploitation of workers. Jesus' father sacrificed his own fully grown son at the height of his potential. It translates very well into the capitalist mentality, where bosses sacrifice their workers for their own higher ends. Where already underpaid and underinsured workers are nobly willing to take pay cuts to keep the company, the country, not to mention their own dependents, going. Sound familiar? Is it any wonder workers are all so passive about it? Growing up a good Christian prepares you to be exploited endlessly by your bosses.

Anyway, if you don't believe that, go read the works of the Father of the Church. Feast your eyes on insanity and delusions like you never thought possible, then draw your own conclusions. I used to sit in the national library just mind-boggled about it.

Jul. 16 2013 09:58 AM
John A

I don't know if Mr Aslan can rival PBS Frontline's "From Jesus to Christ" in either content or sensitivity, but I'll check his book when it arrives at the store.
I wish the first modern person who popularized "Faith is doesn't need proof, that's why it's faith" could be identified. It probably was a republican strategist from the Moral Majority. Faith, especially in the young, should always be allowed to question, and by that, grow.

Jul. 16 2013 09:56 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Abraham was no sucker. He followed the voice of God out of his father's comfortable middle class home in Ur, Chaldea because God promised to make out of Abraham a great nation and promised him a land that He would show him. So Abraham's faith was not for naught. He was promised something tangible here on earth and not just pie in the sky.

But his wife Sarah's faith was weaker. She was promised she would bear a child in her old age, but finally gave up on it, and urged Abraham to take her Egyptian servant to have a child with instead. And so was born Ishmael. But Sarah regretted it soon enough when a child, Isaac, was finally born to her, and consequently urged Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. And so the enmity between Israel and Ishmael germinated.

Jul. 16 2013 09:04 AM
Ed from Larchmont

In the five pillars of faith series why would you have a guest who says that he doesn't believe in God and has written a flawed book about who Jesus was and who he thought he was?

Well, anyway, faith is first a virtue, one of the three theological or supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and love. It is infused into the soul at Baptism, at Confirmation, Communion, Marriage, and less dramatically at other times.

Pope Benedict Emeritus, having written an encyclical on hope and an encyclical on love was writing an encyclical on faith when he resigned. Pope Francis incorporated it into his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, 'The light of faith'. They say one can see both Pope Benedict's words (very theoretical and profound) and Pope Francis' words (very direct).

Here are a few sentences from the encyclical:

"Since faith is a light, it draws us into itself, inviting us to explore ever more fully the horizon which it illumines, all the better to know the object of our love. Christian theology is born of this desire. Clearly, theology is impossible without faith; it is part of the very process of faith, which seeks an ever deeper understanding of God’s self-disclosure culminating in Christ. It follows that theology is more than simply an effort of human reason to analyze and understand, along the lines of the experimental sciences. God cannot be reduced to an object. He is a subject who makes himself known and perceived in an interpersonal relationship."

Jul. 16 2013 08:19 AM

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