Must Faith Follow Reason?

But that doesn’t make any sense…how can you believe that a man died and rose again after 3 days, and your ‘eyewitness’ accounts are written more than 70 years after the fact. -Sam Atheist

Pastors are (or should be) encouraging their flock to go out into the secular world and share their faith. But often we are ill prepared to do this. Many times we will encounter people who are outright antagonistic and think Christianity is outright stupidity. Indeed many can present seemingly challenging criticism like that mentioned above, and the conversation especially in an online forum goes downhill from there. Our evidence comes from the Bible, yet our hearers don’t except that as an authoritative source. Many faithful, rather than effectively evangelizing, find their faith genuinely challenged by others questions…

William Lane Craig talks about the difference between “knowing” the gospel to be true and “showing” the gospel to be true. We can know the gospel to be true based on the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  During his time at Wheaton, Craig was exposed to an ideology that faith must always give way to reason. Therefore, if faith was countered by reason one must give up their faith.

Craig argues in the book , Five Views on Apologetics, that this is absurd! No we aren’t supposed to give up our personal faith, even when seemingly defeated by reason. “Some persons simply lack the ability, time, or resources to come up with successful defeaters of the antitheistic defeaters that they encounter” (Craig 34). The Holy Spirit is a ‘self-authenticating’ witness that, while not directly countering defeating arguments, overwhelms  them.

We “know” our faith based on the Holy Spirit, but when we seek to “show” our faith we need to provide evidence. Reason is the only way to break a deadlock between those who claim to have a conflicting experience with the Spirit, or who do not accept the Spirit as a valid witness at all. The role of the Spirit in showing others is prevenient grace, working on their hearts and minds to promote honest consideration of our arguments.

I think Pastor’s would be well advised to prepare their congregations to face the questions of the “Sam Atheists” of the world. We need to have both faith and reason; the faith to withstand questions, even those we may not have the answers to and the reasoning and apologetics to “show” our faith effectively to others.

 

 

Apologetics in an Unapologetic World

One of the classes I’m taking this semester is about Christian apologetics. The course readings include author’s such as Dawkins. One of his assertions that stuck out at me is that we are all atheists in this world. Some of of us just have one more God that we don’t believe in than others.

On the whole I find Dawkins smug and repugnant, but he has a point. No one is arguing much these days for the Gods of the Greek pantheon. Is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacod going the way of Zeus? Are Dawkins and others just ahead of the curve in ousting this God that seems to not make sense in our scientific world. I would argue that no…they are not ahead of the curve, but are behind it.

Joseph Butler, an Anglican Bishop, wrote a fabulous book called “The Analogy of Religion.” His book is a fabulous piece of apologetic work that deconstructs the problems that many beginning in the Enlightenment began to have between ‘reason’ and ‘religion.’ Sadly his work is in 18th Century English, and largely inaccessible to the modern readers comprehension.

Apologetics seem more important than ever in a world where a Christian viewpoint is automatically deemed as biased and suspect, yet where have they gone? The last century was filled with great evangelists, but they had little impact on rational debate. Perhaps this century will be one in which apologetics again comes to the fore.

The recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham about creation received a lot of buzz. Yet it seems no one was convinced. Nobody won…The creationists still believe and their opponents still do not. So what would a meaningful and impactful Christian apologetic look like in today’s pluralistic world?

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Becoming a Daughter of the House

 

This January I was officially admitted into Nashotah House, an Episcopal Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin. I am now a dual-enrolled seminarian because I’m still earning my Masters in Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary.

As part of my final year of my journey towards ordination, I’m earning my certificate in Anglican Studies. I was so proud and pleased to be able to attend Matriculation this January at Nashotah House and sign my name into the book of sons and daughters of the house that agree to abide by her rules and train there.