Faith and ideology

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

We have to learn to distinguish the faith from the many human ideologies that can be inspired by faith. First of all, faith is a supernatural gift, while ideology is a system of ideas and ideals that forms the basis of some human behavior. The former is a divine gift, while the latter is of human making.

As a divine gift, the faith will always require God’s grace for it to be received and lived properly by us. A life of faith will always be something spiritual and supernatural. On the other hand, ideology is just our human way of systematizing what we think is good and ideal for us. It is a human affair that may or may not be open to God’s grace. It may or may not be spiritual and supernatural.

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the Synod on the Amazon, many church people are accusing others, including the Pope who also returned the favor, that the faith is being reduced to a human ideology.

Now, this is a very intriguing development aside from being unfortunate and saddening, because all of us would be put into a quandary as to who really has the faith and who simply is indulging or developing a human ideology. Are the so-called conservative churchmen and theologians the only ones with the faith, while the so-called liberal ones are only having or are just developing an ideology?

What I know is that faith, being supernatural, will always involve mysteries and other supernatural truths beyond our capacity to understand. As such, it requires trust from the believers who exercise their faith precisely when they would just trust God and the ones God has given the authority to teach something as coming or revealed by God.

They believe not because they understand, but rather because they trust in the one who presents the truth of our faith. Our faith just cannot be ruled by our reason alone nor by any other human ways of knowing things. It will always involve God’s grace.

This is how the Catechism describes faith: “What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

“So that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit.

“Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability, are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all; they are motives of credibility which show that the assent of faith is by no means a blind impulse of the mind.” (CCC 156)

Faith will always challenge us to know more, to understand more, to behave better and to be better ourselves. It will never stop demanding from us. Our ideology, being a human system, somehow gives us some sense of stability since it is meant to guide us with some rules and policies. But if it has to be a good ideology, it has to be open to the impulses of faith.

It’s in this business of trying to correspond to the impulses of faith that we, of course, as the Church and individually, have to find ample ways. We, of course, have to have recourse first to the spiritual and supernatural means of prayers, sacrifice, sacraments, etc. But we also need to find the appropriate human means for this.

Thus, in the Church, there have been councils and synods and other collegial ways, led by the proper authority who is the Pope, that were convoked to discern what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us today regarding concrete issues.