Whether all Men Equally are required to have Explicit Faith
We proceed to the sixth article thus:
1. It seems that all men equally are required to have explicit faith. For it is clear from the precepts of charity that all men are required to believe such things as are necessary for salvation, and it was said in the preceding article that explicit belief in some matters is necessary for salvation. It follows that all men equally are required to have explicit faith.
2. Again, no one should be examined in what he is not required to believe explicitly. But simpletons are sometimes examined on the most meticulous points of faith. Everyone, therefore, is required to believe all things explicitly.
3. Again, if the more simple minded are not required to have explicit faith, but only implicit faith, they must have faith implicit in the faith of the wiser. But this is precarious, for the wiser may happen to be wrong. It seems, therefore, that even the more simple minded ought to have explicit faith. Hence all men equally are required to believe explicitly.
On the other hand: it is said in Job 1:14: |The oxen were ploughing, and the asses feeding beside them.| According to Gregory, this means that in matters of faith the simpler minded, who are signified by the asses, ought to follow the wiser, who are signified by the oxen.
I answer: matters of faith are made explicit by revelation, since they are beyond reason. Now divine revelation reaches lower creatures through higher creatures, in a certain order. It is given to men through the angels, and to lower angels through higher angels, as Dionysius explains (Coel. Hier., caps.4, 7). In the same way, it is through wiser men that the faith must be made explicit for the simpler. Hence just as higher angels have a fuller knowledge of divine things than the lower angels whom they enlighten, so also are wiser men, to whom it pertains to instruct others, required to have a fuller knowledge of what ought to be believed, and to believe it more explicitly.
On the first point: explicit understanding of what ought to be believed is not equally necessary for the salvation of all men. For wiser men, whose office is to instruct others, are required to believe more things explicitly than others.
On the second point: the simple minded are not examined in the subtleties of the faith unless there is a suspicion that they have been perverted by heretics, who have a habit of perverting the faith of the simple minded on subtle points. But if they do not hold tenaciously to a perverse doctrine, and if their error is due to their simplicity, they are not blamed for it.
On the third point: the simple minded have faith implicit in the faith of the wiser only to the extent to which the wiser adhere to the divine teaching. Hence the apostle says: |Wherefore I beseech you be ye followers of me| (I Cor.4:16). Thus it is not human knowledge that is the rule of faith, but divine truth. If some of the wiser should err therein, this will not prejudice the faith of the simpler minded who believe that they have a true faith, unless they hold pertinaciously to their particular errors in opposition to the faith of the universal Church, which cannot err, since the Lord said: |I have prayed for thee [Peter], that thy faith fail not| (Luke 22:32).