Tertullian on Faith and Rationality: a New Look

Document Type : Research Paper




Tertullian's point of view on the relationship of faith and Rationality can be examined from two perspectives. By citing to some of sentences that he has said in opposition to philosophy, he is known the pioneer of radical fideism. In those famous quotes, he takes philosophy to be the source and origin of heretic, and the philosopher's teachings as identical with teachings of devils and fallen angels. In those sentences, Tertullian emphasizes on efficacy of Believers faith and that faith is independent from reason. He holds that those believers who are interested in philosophy, in fact are not true believers or pretending to believe. On the other hand, we find many evidences in his works that he had tried to provide rational defense for Christian beliefs. In this regard, he has benefited even from Epicurean thinkers, who (according to many commentators of New Testament) are the target of St. Paul when he attacks philosophy. Having these in mind, we can find a way to understand Tertullian's sentences against philosophy in another manner; So that he himself is a rationalist, or at least is not the extreme defender of radical fideism, as usually is attributed to him.