DTR: Faith and Reason

Recently, I wrote a paper on defining the relationship between knowledge acquired through the social sciences (reason) and knowledge that comes through the Bible (faith). Here is an excerpt:

“In Greek mythology it is said that human beings were first created with four arms and four legs and were extremely powerful creatures. Zeus, fearing their influence and strength, cut them in half and split the two parts as far away as possible hoping individually they could never accomplish what they could have when united. This is where we derived the idea and terminology of “soul mates”. There is someone who is our “other half” that we must spend our lifetime trying to find in order to be truly whole and most powerful.  Though clearly biblically inaccurate in the human sense, can we apply this unique notion to the relationship between faith and reason? What if faith and reason are actually soul mates? What if truly, they are two parts of one body who originally were designed to labor and flourish in harmony, but have been torn apart because of the fall? What if it is not a matter of who came first or of who holds more value because they are in fact, one?

…If faith and reason are two parts of the same coin; if they are soul mates, what are the repercussions of this for the work of ministry? …During the evening session [of a ministry I served in] there were sermons taught…[and] I am aghast to inform you that during too many of these evening gatherings faith was the only truth present and reason was asked to sit in the back row and not speak. Questions were not encouraged, and neither was deliberation. One evening an alter call was given, sternly telling the teenagers in attendance that he “wasn’t going to wait long”, and that they “only have a minute to make their decision”. What damage this does! What a shame to not encourage thinking. This is truly the most important decision they will ever make in life, and though not all their questions can be answered, let not them go unasked! And to not assure them that salvation by faith is accessible at whatever moment God opens their eyes to his grace is heartbreaking. I fear that has banner of, “Don’t overthink, just believe” did more harm than good.

…Similarly, far too often in the church pulpit on Sunday mornings, faith is preached, but not its other half-reason.  One of the most sneakily detrimental norms of Christianity in America today is the palatable topical preaching being lofted from our stages. When we preach only child-like faith without integrating intellect, reason, and truths found in social sciences we are setting our congregations up for failure. We are at war. The enemy troops have cannons loaded with fact, philosophy, and rhetoric. We are fools to think our dart guns of easy application and slingshots of skirting difficult issues with “love” will win us any battle.

It would be equally foolish to swing the proverbial pendulum the other direction. To speak only of knowledge gained through social sciences with no regard or integration of faith derogatorily displays our faith and our God as a puny one…

Faith and Reason are a breathtaking, perfectly balanced couple. When manifested in a life, culture, or topic well, God’s glory shines in such undeniable brilliance, his name is seen as great. We need joyful, strong believers to be educated, deep thinkers in every facet of civilization. That happens not by chance, but by penetrating intentionality. Though we all share in this mission, the burden should weigh heaviest on the shoulders of parents, pastors, and educators.  They have the hallowed charge to both live and teach the truth that knowledge gained through research in the social sciences and knowledge gained through the study of God’s word are soul mates and should never be torn asunder.  For his name’s sake, may God grant us wisdom, stamina, and winsomeness for such a cumbersome, arduous task.”

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