by Thomas Merton
It is of course quite true that theology can and must study the intellectual content of revelation and especially the verbal formulation of divinely revealed truth. But once again, this is not the final object of faith. Faith goes beyond words and formulas and brings us the light of God Himself.
The importance of the formulas is not that they are ends in themselves, but that they are means through which God communicates His truth to us. They must be kept clear. They must be clean windows, so that they may not obscure and hinder the light that comes to us. They must not falsify God’s truth. Therefore we must make every effort to believe the right formulas. But we must not be so obsessed with verbal correctness that we never go beyond the words to the ineffable reality which they attempt to convey.
Faith, then, is not just the grim determination to cling to a certain form of words, no matter what may happen — though we must certainly be prepared to defend our creed with our life. But above all, faith is the opening of an inward eye, the eye of the heart, to be filled with the presence of Divine light.
Ultimately faith is the only key to the universe. The final meaning of human existence, and the answers to questions on which all our happiness depends cannot be reached in any other way.