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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Faith's War Against Reason?

I recently received an e-mail from a friend I've known since 5th grade in Wauchula, Florida. While we remain friends and in contact from time to time, my friend isn't a Christian. I felt compelled to respond to an article he sent me by e-mail in Capitalism Magazine, "Faith's War Against Worldliness, " by Wayne Dunn. (The link can be found by clicking on the title above or here: http://www.capmag.com:80/article.asp?ID=4905).

Here is my response to the article which I wrote extemporaneously:


This article is totally misrepresentative of the actual facts, Kevin. First of all, the modern university system is a development from the medieval monastery concept, complete with private studies and university libraries. Secondly, modern science and medicine are the direct result of man's efforts to discover more about God through His creation. Sir Isaac Newton, for example, though by no means an "orthodox Christian" doctrinally, made his great discoveries in physics precisely because he believed he was discovering more about God through the Bible AND mathematics and physics. Special revelation comes through the study of the Bible, hence we have theology, the queen of the sciences, while "general revelation" comes from the other sciences, including physics, medicine, mathematics, etc., not to mention the arts.

Secondly, the author obviously has no firsthand knowledge of Holy Scripture which teaches either pacifism or at most a concept of "just war" rather than blindly attacking one's enemies without provocation. Christ Himself said that He did not come to build a kingdom on earth but a "spiritual" kingdom where men live in harmony and peace. "Peace and goodwill toward men." Simply because in medieval times society in general was more violent and less civil than today says nothing in particular about the church but more about the lack of progress of humanism in general. Thus, torture and the like was a normal part of society at that time. Unfortunately, since all men are sinners, the church of that period was influenced by the culture at large. Thus, you have the Inquisition and other atrocities that were perpetuated by sinful men who happened to also be powerful figures in the church.

Thirdly, what this author also fails to mention is that the Renaissance gave direct rise to the Protestant Reformation, the leaders of which were products of the Renaissance. Disiderus Eramus, for example, though he never left the Roman Catholic Church, did studies in biblical criticism and put together the first critical edition of the Greek New Testament. Martin Luther and John Calvin and other Protestant Reformers saw mistranslations noted by Erasmus where the Latin Vulgate had made grievous and significant errors in translation. This led the Reformers to challenge the Catholic doctrines of penance, justification by good works, etc. It is in fact the Renaissance that made the Reformation possible.

I might also note that in modern times Christianity in general is a direct result of the Renaissance and the emphasis on "humanism." The difference is that Christian humanism centers firstly on God and secondly on mankind. And since this is in direct relation to the biblical command to love God and to love one's neighbor, this is the critical difference between Islam and Christianity. Islam has a pillar of faith that justifies "holy war." Christianity, on the other hand, is a religion of peace and reconciliation firstly between God and man and secondly between a man and his neighbor. Peace on earth is only possible by reconciliation and understanding. Fundamentalist Islam is much more violent than any fundamentalist Christianity there may be out there. Even the most extreme fundamentalist Christian does not advocate "holy war" because they recognize that God's kingdom is a kingdom of the heart and the spirit and not of the world.

Islam at heart is a theocratic religion while only the most extremist Christians are known as theonomists or reconstructionists. While it is true that during the pre-Enlightenment era most governments had state churches, it is also true that the principles of the Catholic church usurping governmental powers as "Christ's vicar or represenative on earth" were overturned by the Protestant Reformation such that kings no longer ruled by divine right or by the pope's prerogative but only at the people's consent. Thus, the Protestant Reformation, subsequent to the Renaissance, led directly to modern democracy. Without Christianity you have no democracy. Even John Locke's theory of common law was directly linked to the biblical principle of the right to own private property. (You will note that the 10th commandment says that we are not to covet our neighbor's wife, house, or property)

And lastly I might mention that Christianity does not divorce reason from faith. In fact, Thomas Aquinas was a good Catholic Christian. It was Aquinas who developed the three classical arguments for the existence of God: 1) the teleological argument or the argument that the universe was designed by an intelligent Creator; 2) the ontological argument that if we can conceive of a perfect being like God then God must of necessity exist; and 3) the cosmological argument that since all things have a cause the first cause must in fact be God.

While it is true that Christianity places faith above reason, reason leads us to a more complete understanding of God and his creation. Anselm said that faith seeks understanding. It is precisely this principle that led Christians like Galileo and Newton to further explore general revelation or natural revelation through the empirical sciences. Faith is not at war with reason but only with irrational reason which seeks to trump the transcendant revelation of God through a theology or philosophy from below.

I for one find this article totally ridiculous and biased. If this world is all there is and if materialism is the sum of existence, then there is no ultimate or transcendant standard of measure whereby we can judge right from wrong. In that case to judge Islam as wrong would be self contradictory since by the theory of relativism what is true for the fundamentalist muslim terrorist is true for him and therefore we should not judge his motives. On the other hand, if some things are always wrong, then there must be some ultimate standard of truth and justice. This ultimate good or ultimate standard of justice Christianity says is God himself. His very nature and being is one of justice and one of impartial love and compassion for mankind in general. Islam simply cannot match Christianity and it is not for the silly reasons given by the author of this article but because of the Christian pricinciple that "God is love." (See First John 4:7-8).

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Charlie

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