Faith and Reason

I had to write a number of reflections on history readings this term, where I would basically write about what thoughts and feelings were provoked in me as I read about Medieval European History. When I read about Descartes and his method of radical doubt, I realized that his method is still fundamental to all engagement in learning in today’s universities and colleges, whether they are Christian or secular. In my reflection, I ruminated:

Descartes’ fundamental tenet of beginning with doubt sounds eerily familiar: it is foundational to just about everything we do and learn at SSU. We assume that everything we know is—or at least might be—wrong, and we proceed from there, doubting everything and trying to hold it up against reason alone. Even postmodernity in its deconstructions has this fundamental doubt in common with modernity before it; only intensified. I sometimes wonder if doubt is this best way to live and learn.

The last sentence especially piqued the interest of my prof (who also happens to be the dean) and he suggested we sit down and talk about it. What came out of this discussion is that I have an idea to toy with in terms of a subject for my graduating thesis next year. I may explore the idea of the pursuit of academic excellence and respectability in Christian higher education. Can fidelity to the gospel and Christ be maintained in parallel with academic excellence? And of course, issues of the nature of truth, the relationship between faith and reason and a host of other unresolved intellectual dilemmas will get dragged into this.

Where the rubber really hits the road is particularly in the current theologizing being done in the emerging church. Much of the EC’s theology is being done in conversation with the postmodern critique, and is therefore highly (and perhaps unduly) influenced by academia. Will theology lose its soul in this? I think that this is a real danger, but one that can be avoided. In light of this, the question that I am particularly concerned about is this: how can Christians negotiate the tension between faithfulness to Christ and the pursuit of academic excellence?

One response to “Faith and Reason”

  1. […] I’ve been reconnecting with friends and family here in the real world, going for coffee and having conversations. I must say, talking to real people is good. Probably healthy too. I’m also reading books that I really want to read, particularly relating to my current quest for understanding the inter-relationship of faith and learning, as alluded to in a previous post. […]

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