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Articles of Faith

Certain revealed supernatural truths such as those contained in the symbol of the Apostles

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Articles of Faith (Greek, arthron; Latin, articulus, joint), certain revealed supernatural truths such as those contained in the symbol of the Apostles. The terms were not used by the Fathers or by ecclesiastical writers in the early Middle Ages. St. Bernard and Richard of St. Victor employed them, the latter applying them to truths having God for their object and so explicitly stated as to compel assent. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the article of faith is any revealed supernatural truth which is distinct in itself from other such truths but which unites with them to form the organic whole of Christian teaching. Thus the articles of the Creed announce truths which are in themselves distinct from one another but parts of a complete summary of the truths which have been revealed to help us to gain our last end. They are for Christian theology what fundamental principles are for a science. Not every revealed truth is an article of faith, nor are theologians agreed on what constitutes any truth an article of faith. Some would limit these articles to the contents of the Apostles’ Creed. Others say that every truth defined by the Church, or in any other manner explicitly proposed for our belief, is an article of faith. De Lugo describes them as the principal or primary truths which are the basis of other revealed truths or principles. In the Catechism of the Council of Trent (p. 1, c. 1, q. 4), the truths of the Apostles’ Creed are called articles “by a sort of simile frequently used by our forefathers; for as the members of the body are divided by joints (articuli), so also in the profession of faith whatever is to be believed by us distinctly and separately from anything else we properly and appositely call an article”.

JOHN J. WYNNE


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