Anselm – living and dead faith


Monologion Chapter 78
What is a living and what is a dead faith

Therefore, with however great a certainty so great a thing is believed, that faith will be useless and like something dead unless through love it is strong and alive. For a faith that is accompanied and attended by love will by no means be idle when it has the opportunity to act; instead, it will exert itself to act quite frequently, which it could not do without love. That this is so can be proved by just this one fact: one who loves the supreme justice cannot disdain anything just or tolerate anything unjust. Therefore, since whatever acts, shows that it has life, without which it could not act, it is not absurd to say that an active faith is living, since it has the life of love without which it would not act, and that an idle faith is not living, since it lacks the life of love with which it would not be idle. Therefore, if not only one who has lost his sight is called blind, but also one who, though he ought to have it, does not, why cannot faith without love similarly be called dead, not because it has lost its life (that is, its love), but because it does not have what it ought always to have? So, just as a faith that through love is active is recognized as living, a faith that through disdain is idle is proved to be dead. And so it can quite appropriately be said that a living faith believes in what it ought to believe in, whereas a dead faith merely believes what it ought to believe.


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