“Illa per se pertinent ad fidem quorum visione in vita aeterna perfruemur, et per quae ducemur in vitam aeternam” (IIa IIae, 1, 8). Translated: “Those things pertain in themselves to faith, the vision of which we enjoy in eternal life, and by which we are lead into eternal life.”
1. By this definition, faith is an eschatological reality. This is an important distinction, because it avoids the quagmire of foundationalism we face in trying immanently to distinguish those things which can be known by “pure reason” from those things which must be “revealed”: the problem with this being that assurance of the sort needed to secure knowledge of the first kind simply isn’t available — all knowing requires “faith” in a limited sense. Thomas’s formulation means that things known by faith are glimpses of our own future, glimpses of the eschaton towards which we tend. That we know to call God, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” can only mean that we are permitted to overhear the converse of heaven. This means that there is no material distinction between the kind of knowing that occurs in knowing that God exists, and the kind of knowing by which we name God as Trinity: it’s just that the former is knowledge spoken to us from the present, while the latter is knowledge spoken to us from the future.