Statesboro, GA, USA
And therein lies the problem. Contemporary evangelicalism would throw up its hands and allow "born again instinct" to guide its faith rather than striving to understand those things God chose to reveal about himself. His revelation of Himself in history is a gift and, just as with any gift, we are charged to be good stewards of what He's given us.
Jim, I certainly sympathize with your feelings about the neglect of reasoning, whenever faith is professed. For far too long faith has been misconstrued as "the power to believe what you know to be untrue". And since Christianity is also a historical faith as well as an experiential faith, all should be done to improve our understanding of the foundations of our faith, both historically, philosophically, and theologically. That's why scripture exhorts us to "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). The cause of this abandonment in many, is a Kierkegaardian dichotomy between faith and reason, where faith is presented as a blind and irrational leap. But this is simply not descriptive of Biblical faith.
On the other hand, an ultra-rationalism, leads to the inability to take anything on authority ... or even on intuition. The extreme end is David Hume, a man who was hardly able to believe that he existed as an individual ... because he had to exercise "faith" that his senses were not lying. Yet he vaunted an empiricist method, that would not allow him any longer to do what came so natural for so many... to reasonably assume reality. Evidently even Hume sometimes saw the absurdity of such conclusions ...
"...Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, Nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours' amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find it in my heart to enter into them any further." (Treatise I, iv, 7)
Since many demand that the answers of "faith" should fill all gaps of reason and knowledge, it is right to admit the limits of reason ... and the proper function of faith. Not only do irresponsible lazy thinkers say such things about faith, but some of the finest thinkers the world has ever known say them too. But there is a difference. Such limiting statements are more credible in the mouths of those who have not neglected their intellectual chores. From someone who has done their homework, they sound like more like realism, and less like escapism. When the weight of reason has been on one's side, then the professed limits of reason do not come crashing down in the balance. Even one of the greatest scientists the world has ever seen, said things like ...
"the heart has it's reasons which reason does not know" (Blaise Pascal, Pensees, sect. 4:277)
"It is the heart that experiences God, not reason. That is what faith is: God felt by the heart, not by reason." (Pensees, sect. 4:278)
These sayings remind us that reason for "proof" of the Christian faith has it's limits. But it shouldn't at all be absent either.
Here are a couple of articles that may interest you Jim. One is about the apologetics of C.S. Lewis, and the other about the life of Blaise Pascal. They illustrate the tension between faith and reason in the life and works of two great minds.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-28-2003 03:19 PM).]