- Theological virtues
Part of a series on St. Thomas Aquinas Philosophy Portal
In the Bible
The three theological virtues are:
- Faith - belief in God, and in the truth of His revelation as well as obedience to Him (cf. Rom 1:5:16:26)
- Hope - expectation of and desire of receiving; refraining from despair and capability of not giving up
- Charity - selfless, unconditional, and voluntary loving-kindness such as helping one's neighbours.
They occur in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 13:13:
- "And now abideth faith, hope, and love, even these three: but the chiefest of these is love". (Geneva Bible, 1560).
The English word love for the third and greatest of the virtues, ἀγάπη (agapē), was used by all of the English translators of the Bible in the 16th Century, including Tyndale (1534), the Bishops' Bible (1568) and the Geneva Bible (1560). It is also used by almost all current translations of the Bible, including the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the New International Version.
In Catholic theology, it is held that these virtues differ from the cardinal virtues in that they can not be obtained by human effort. A person can only receive them by their being "infused"—through Divine grace—into the person.
The theological virtues are so named because the object of these virtues is the divine being (theos). Other virtues have vice at their extremes, and are only virtues when they are maintained between these extremes. In the case of the Theological Virtues, they do not contribute to vice at the positive extreme; that is, there is no vice in having an unlimited amount of faith, hope, or love, when God is the object of that virtue.
More than one vice can be the opposite of each theological virtue:
- Lack of faith may give place to incredulity (as in atheism and agnosticism), blasphemy or apostasy.
- Lack of hope may give place to despair or cynicism.
- Lack of love may give place to hatred, wrath or indifference.
Theological Virtues are often depicted in art as young women. The symbols most often associated with them are:
- Faith - cross, pointing upward, staff and chalice, lamp, candle
- Hope - anchor, harp, flaming brand, palm
- Love - flaming heart, with children, gathering fruit
- Paradise Restored - The Social Ethics of Francis of Assisi, A Commentary on Francis's 'Salutation of the Virtues', by Jan Hoebrichts, Franciscan Institute Publications, 2004. ISBN 9780819910080
- 1 Corinthians 13
- Cardinal virtues
- Seven deadly sins (cardinal sins)
- Seven virtues, which are the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues
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