The "leap of faith"
I don't see St. Augustine's view as circular, because the authority of the Church was proclaimed my Christ. It was reported through verbal preaching and written in scripture.
So when St. Augustine says he would not believe sacred scripture unless the Church commanded him, he is saying that he has his faith primarily in tradition.

Regarding faith, I believe there are ample indicators of the truth of Christianity, but one has to look for them and use prayer as a method of discernment. I am not a big advocate of what I call the 'cop-out' argument which effectively says that God just gives people faith and that is that. People can come to faith by an intellectual exercise of attempting to understand the world, philosophy and Church teaching. After having given it serious thought one can come to a reasonable assurance of its truth and then act accordingly.
An act of will is required.  That is why God has left us free will, so that we may choose to believe in him of our own accord.

The impetus for such an act of will can (must, really) differ from man to man.  At one extreme, you can have an instant, total conversion, like Saul on the road to Tarsus, or (somebody help me out with the name here, I have forgotten) like that Jewish man in Italy, I think in the 1500's, who was stridently anti-Catholic until the BVM appeared to him one night.  He might be a Blessed. (Sorry for lack of concrete reference, it's in a thread here, but I can't find it just now).

At the other end, you could have somebody like me who comes to, or comes back to, the faith bit by bit over years and years and finally realizes that it's the Truth.  Very, very gradual, until finally the scale tips in the other direction.

That may or may not qualify as a "leap".  But, at some point, no matter what, you still have to say "I believe".....and there'll never be proof.

19th century Jewish banker Alphonse Ratisbonne, who was not only a Jew but vehemently anti-Catholic. He was touring Rome, when someone gave him a Miraculous Medal to wear as a "test." He wore it just to "prove" there was nothing miraculous about the medal at all.

That night he was abruptly awakened by the vision of a large cross (not a crucifix), quite distinct, at the foot of his bed. He tried to shake the vision, but couldn't. Later the next day, he felt compelled to stop at a Church (just to admire the artwork, he tells himself) when in the sanctuary he saw a vision Our Lady, tall, brilliant, her hands are outstretched, like those in the image of the Miraculous Medal. The entire experience takes moments, but is enough to make a lifelong convert out of Alphonse. Eleven days later he was baptized and received his first communion. Everyone who is anyone in Europe is there, for the news of Alphonse's conversion caused a great sensation. The following month the Vatican held a canonical process to investigate the circumstances surrounding the conversion, which is widely perceived as a confirmation by Heaven of the efficacy of the Miraculous Medal. Later, Ratisbonne entered a Jesuit order and became a priest, laboring among the Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land. He establishes orphanages and schools for poor children, builds the Church of the Ecce Homo, and lives a life of extraordinary sanctity. He dies at Ain Karem, reputed site of the Visitation. On his deathbed, he goes into ecstasy -- apparently seeing, one last time, the Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

Thank you, StrictCatholicGirl!
(05-17-2010, 07:58 PM)Servus_Maria Wrote: How so? Something like the resurrection of Christ seems to require this leap to faith as there are no proofs that Christ really did rise from the dead, only the testimony of the gospels.

Testimony is evidence. In fact, in most courts of law it is basically the only evidence accepted to prove something. Even physical exhibits must be verified and entered into evidence via testimony. The testimony of the many who witnessed the Ressurection must have been credible since the faith spread so fast that the persecuted sect of a persecuted religion through that witness overcame the most powerful empire in the world.

The credibility of the witnesses was bolstered by the fact that there was consistent testimony between them, they chose death rather than recant, and they gained nothing (in wordly terms) from it. Compare that with, say, Muhammed. He received allegedly a revelation alone in a cave, it was verified by no others, he spread it by the sword, and achived worldly success for himself and his early followers. Who's more credible, him or the Apostles?
Quote:We know that something moved a group of Jews and Gentiles to give their entire lives over to preaching and to eventually give up their lives. 
I brought this up with a friend, he pointed out that Christianity doesn't have a monopoly on people doing inexplicable things.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find within history such a small group who were so brutally persecuted and yet who so quickly grew to become the world's largest religion and ideological force.  Christianity grew to rule the world and basically has for 1600-1700 years now.  Secularism is fighting with it to the death.  Islam is a distant third.

Quote:We know that Christianity, when looked at in a number of different ways, seems to be the only system which can explain our great questions.
I don't think this statement is substantiated and seems subjective. I'm sure we can all agree on the big questions but doubt we can all agree on satisfactory answers.

I disagree.  I think the Church has decided upon many satisfactory answers regarding our great questions.  Our agreement on them is presupposed by our fidelity to the teachings of the Church.

Quote:Out of these avenues and many others we have intellectual reason to be Christian

Sure. We can see that Christianity is consistent and logical, it is a justified belief but that does not mean it's a correct one.

I disagree here again.  We cannot say in an empirical or positively provable way that it is correct, but it is more than just an internally coherent set of beliefs.  It is the system which seems most likely due to it being the system which makes the most sense given the world around us.

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