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Article Eight

Whether the Articles of Faith are appropriately Enumerated

We proceed to the eighth article thus:

1. It seems that the articles of faith are not appropriately enumerated. For it was said in Art. 5 that things which can be known through demonstrative reasoning do not belong to faith as matters of belief for all. Now it can be shown by demonstration that God is one. The philosopher proves this in 12 Metaph. 52, and many other philosophers have added their proofs. “There is one God” should not therefore be an article of faith.

2. Again, it is just as necessary for faith that we should believe that God is omniscient, and that he cares for all, as that we should believe that he is almighty. Moreover, some have erred on both points. The wisdom and providence of God should therefore be mentioned in the articles of faith, as well as his omnipotence.

3. Again, according to John 14:9: “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” our knowledge of the Father is the same as our knowledge of the Son. There should therefore be only one article on the Father and the Son—and the Holy Spirit, for the same reason.

4. Again, the Person of the Father is not less than the Persons of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Now there are several articles on the Person of the Holy Spirit, and several on the Person of the Son. There should therefore be several articles on the Person of the Father.

5. Again, just as something is attributed to the Person of the Father and to the Person of the Holy Spirit in respect of their divinity, so also is something attributed to the Son in respect of his divinity. Now in the articles of faith there is a work attributed to the Father, namely the work of creation, and also a work attributed to the Holy Spirit, namely that “he spoke by the prophets.” The articles ought therefore to include a work attributed to the Son in respect of his divinity.

6. Again, the sacrament of the Eucharist has a special difficulty of its own, which is distinct from the difficulties of the many articles. There should therefore be a special article on the Eucharist. Hence it seems that there are not a sufficient number of articles.


On the other hand: the articles are enumerated as they are by authority of the Church.

I answer: as we said in Arts. 4 and 6, the things which belong to faith by reason of what they are in themselves are the things which we shall enjoy in eternal life, together with the means whereby we are brought to eternal life. Now we are told that we shall see two things, namely, the hidden Godhead, the vision of which is our blessedness, and the mystery of the humanity of Christ, through whom we have access into the glory of the sons of God, as it is said in Rom. 5:2. Hence it is said also in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” The first distinction for faith, consequently, is between what pertains to the majesty of the Godhead and what pertains to the mystery of the manhood of Christ, which is called “the mystery of godliness” in I Tim. 3:16.

Three things are proposed for our belief concerning the majesty of the Godhead: first, the Unity of the Godhead, to which the first article refers; second, the Trinity of the Persons, on which there are three articles corresponding to the three Persons; third, the works proper to the Godhead. The first of these works is the “order” of nature, concerning which the article on the creation is proposed to us. The second is the “order” of grace, concerning which all that relates to the salvation of man is proposed to us in one article. The third is the “order” of glory, concerning which there is another article on the resurrection of the body and on eternal life. There are thus seven articles pertaining to the Godhead.

There are likewise seven articles concerning the humanity of Christ, of which the first refers to the incarnation, or the conception of Christ, the second to his virgin birth, the third to his passion, death, and burial, the fourth to his descent into hell, the fifth to his resurrection, the sixth to his ascension, and the seventh to his coming in judgment. There are thus fourteen articles in all.

Some, however, distinguish twelve articles of faith, six pertaining to the Godhead, and six pertaining to the humanity. They combine the three articles on the three Persons into one, on the ground that our knowledge of the three Persons is the same. They divide the article on the work of glorification into two, which refer respectively to the resurrection of the body and to the glory of the soul. They similarly combine into one the articles on the conception and on the nativity.


On the first point: by faith we hold many things concerning God which the philosophers have been unable to discover by natural reason, such as the providence and omnipotence of God, and that God alone is to be worshipped. These are all contained in the article on the unity of God.

On the second point: as we said in Pt. I, Q. 13, Art. 8, the very name “Godhead” implies providence of some kind. Further, in intellectual beings, power does not operate otherwise than in accordance with will and knowledge. Hence the omnipotence of God in a manner includes both knowledge and providence in relation to all things. For God could not do all that he wills among lower creatures, did he not both know them and care for them.

On the third point: in respect of the unity of their essence, we have but one knowledge of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and the first article refers to it. With regard to the distinction of the persons, which is according to their relations of origin, knowledge of the Son is in a manner included in knowledge of the Father. For God would not be Father unless he had a Son, the Holy Spirit being the bond which unites them. Those who formulated one article on the three Persons were therefore well guided. Three articles can nevertheless be formulated on the three Persons, since there are points which must be observed concerning each of them, and about which error is possible. Arius indeed believed in the Father Almighty and Eternal, but he did not believe that the Son is coequal and consubstantial with the Father. It was therefore necessary to add an article on the Person of the Son, to settle this point. For the same reason, it was necessary to include a third article on the Person of the Holy Spirit, in view of Macedonius. Similarly, the conception and nativity of Christ may be comprehended in one article, and likewise the resurrection and eternal life, on the ground that they are ordained to the same end. But they may also be distinguished, on the ground that each has its own special difficulty.

On the fourth point: it pertains to the Son and to the Holy Spirit to be sent for the sanctification of creatures. Now there are several things to be believed about this. There are accordingly more articles on the Persons of the Son and the Holy Spirit than on the Person of the Father, who is never sent, as we said in Pt. I, Q. 43, Art. 4.

On the fifth point: the sanctification of a creature through grace, and its consummation in glory, are brought about by 236means of the gift of charity, which is attributed to the Holy Spirit; and also by means of the gift of wisdom, which is attributed to the Son. Hence either work pertains both to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, being attributable to each for a different reason.

On the sixth point: there are two points to consider about the sacrament of the Eucharist. One is that it is a sacrament. As such, it has the same nature as other effects of sanctifying grace. The other point is that the body of Christ is miraculously contained therein. This is included under omnipotence, just as all other miracles are attributed to omnipotence.

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