Faith

Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: A Case Study

Read the series so far.

A Case Study: Harold Netland and the Demand for Neutrality

As we further consider whether reason should be categorized separately from faith as properly functioning independent of it, I cite the example of an article by Harold Netland entitled, “Apologetics, Worldviews, and the Problem of Neutral Criteria.”1 In Netland’s 1991 article we see an able but, I believe, misguided critique of presuppositionalist John M. Frame’s epistemology as set forth in his book The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. The overall burden of Netland’s complaint is clear, there must be some mutually shared neutral criteria that all people, whether Theist, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Humanist, or whatever, can use to judge each other’s positions.2 It is the possibility of this neutral ground that Frame, in common with other biblical presuppositionalists (including the present writer) denies.

4446 reads

Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Revelation and Reason

Read the series so far.

Having brought into the discussion the necessity of divine revelation as the presupposition of faith, we are faced with the question of how reason relates to this revelation. My answer to this question will have to be provisional for now. I hope to post separately on this subject in the future.

If faith truly appropriates the truth about God then it is clear that it can have no proper function apart from divine revelation. As “faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1), it responds to matters above the reach of the inductive sciences (1 Cor. 2:10, etc). Hence, from a Christian point of view, it is essential for man to have proper faith if he is to know his creational environment fully.

1676 reads

Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Definitions

It appears to me that one of the first things a faithful theologian needs to do is to straighten out the confusion brought about by the world’s separation of faith and reason. This relationship is so vital to a biblically fastened worldview that to neglect it will involve the believer in a host of conflicting beliefs and practices. For it is just here that the negligent Christian theologue will be attacked.1 To the average man in the street, “faith” is that “I really hope so” attitude that many people employ when their circumstances get tough. It is that blind trust that things will turn out all right in the end. Faith thus defined is the opposite of reason. “Reason” deals with the cold hard facts, so it goes, and is what we have to use in the “real world”—in business, in science, in education.

One Christian writer has put the matter in the form of a question: “Is it rational for us to believe in God? Is it rational for us to place our confidence in Him and his revelation to man? Can a person believe in God without performing a sacrifice of his intellect?”2

4310 reads

Sinful Fear, Corrective Comfort

The congregation kept singing, but I couldn’t. I just stood there alone in my row and shook with sobs I could only barely keep from being audible. I was alone because my family had stayed home that Sunday fighting head colds. I was sobbing because truth was hitting me in a very sensitive, yet very hungry, place. Fear can be a sin, and if we’ve been committing that sin in a big way, the moments that bring us to awareness tend also to be moments of overwhelming comfort. The conviction-comfort combo can just about knock you down.

At the time, I was a good five months into the most painful and terrifying period of my life (so far). Painful because, among other reasons, I was walking away not only from the pastorate I’d held for thirteen years but also from pastoral ministry in general (for the foreseeable future). Terrifying because time was running out on the (very generous!) severance pay and housing, and months of job-hunting and literally hundreds of job applications had produced no good leads. The job openings I was finding were mostly inadequate to provide what I knew we’d need for rent. But even these low-wage opportunities were failing to reach the interview stage.

3404 reads

Faith for the Dark Days

To see it on the calendar, this week appears all innocence and grace. Seven days lined up in a row, neatly strung together by mornings and evenings, full of expectation and promise. Little did I realize that it was a malevolent beast waiting to pounce and wreak havoc on my simple, easy life.

Not that I was completely unaware. I knew this week was going to be busy with organizing and executing a church dinner. I expected trips to Sam’s Club and late nights of baking and centerpieces. What I did not expect were missed writing deadlines, late nights of pastoral care, and the ache of being far from family when I most needed to be close. And what I certainly did not expect was my husband’s having to conduct a funeral for a mother whose children will grow up without her. Children the same ages as ours.

How deceptively simple that calendar looked last week. How benign.

On weeks like these, it’s easy to fall back on truisms—“You never know what the future holds” and “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” and “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”—all in some half-hearted attempt to make sense of the chaos swirling around us. But I want to tell you that they are all lies. Dreadful, terrible, sugar-coated lies.

824 reads

Pages