Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Am I Rational?

Recently I had a conversation with a friend where I mentioned that I was reading Lee Strobel's “The Case for Christ.” My concession was met with a bit of hesitation. This sort of hesitation seems to be prevalent among many of my friends.

I remember sitting in a philosophy class one day and we were talking about one philosopher’s view of faith (I’m sure you philosophy people will know who it was that we were talking about). The teacher drew on the whiteboard a stick figure climbing up a set of stairs to God. Each of the stairs was a so called "truth" that made the leap of faith to God that much shorter. Then, next to the steps was a stick figure who had dug a whole in the ground, contrary to reason, and thus his leap of faith was much larger. I remember the class thought it would be much better to be the stick figure in the hole so that God would get all the more glory from the larger leap. This sort of attitude always struck me as strange and a bit naïve (and reminded me of the kind of logic that lead to Paul's famous rhetorical question in Romans 6:1).

It seems to me that we have a God who has always proved Himself to be trustworthy and true. Though He is in no way obligated to mankind, He has decided to enter into covenants and make promises. In His covenant dealings He is always shown to be faithful and His promises He always keeps. When Jesus came He performed miracles and fulfilled prophecies. One place where we see both is in Matthew 11 when John the Baptist’s disciples ask if Jesus is the one who is to come or should they look for another. Jesus answers them by referring to a prophecy from Isaiah 35 “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5 ESV) Jesus doesn’t answer them with a simple “yes” and expect them to be satisfied with that. Instead, He refers to His own actions as His Messianic claim.

Here is my question, is it not a rational decision to trust a trustworthy person?

(disclaimer - I'm not saying that rationality automatically leads to faith. There is this thing called repentance that needs to be there too and the Holy Spirit's working. Also read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 in reference to this discussion.)



Lydia said...

I was really reminded of Romans 1:18 when I read this. The truth is not only folly to the pagan, but it is something to suppress. However, truth is much like matter: it cannot be created nor destroyed. The more it is pressed down with the intent to destroy, the more it reveals itself. All the rationality that man can muster still leaves us without excuse. Praise God that He chooses to reveal Himself not only through His general revelation, but through the Holy Spirit’s working to enlighten us to the truth of the gospel!! It is through Him that we see how God's salvific plan was already predicted in the Old Testament and paints a logical, rational picture to be fulfilled in Christ. Before, it is only foolishness and willful suppression, but who is really the foolish or irrational one (Romans 1:21-22)? :-) Thanks for the post! I loved it!

Collie said...

Nice! I think you are right on to say that God indeed appeals to our rationality.

I guess my question is, what form should apologetics take? How should it be utilized? I guess I'm asking, what is your vision for apologetics?

Sabrina said...

i think one must first begin with defining "rational" and "trust" in order to answer this question. good to ponder!

Brandon K. Baker said...

I have to admit that I am not comfortable the stairway of truth (and reason) to God, nor the hole being dug contrary to reason. It seems like a false dichotomy to me.

I'd view it rather as a circle with God at the center. As one progresses in relationship with God, they move either toward God or away while still moving in a circular pattern. Think of it as a sort of spiral. Reason can have both affects, it can move us toward God and away from God. Relying too much on faith can have the same affect. It seems rather that there is required a generous balance of both faith and reason.

I don't see it as using either faith or reason to work toward or away from God and then making a "leap of faith." Faith is a journey, not a destination.