Photo: Synagogues such as this one in Chorazin on the Sea of Galilee functioned as places of faith and learning for the Jews.
Faith should be enriched through learning, and reason should be chastened by faith. We looked at the first half of this statement in the last blog post. Today, we’ll look at the second half.
Reason should be chastened by faith. Higher institutions of learning often miss the mark on this one, which becomes obvious when we take note of the many universities that began with a Christian mission but have long since drifted from those moorings. In an academic environment, there is always a danger of allowing reason to run roughshod over faith.
Proverbs 9:10 (and 1:7) reminds us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom . . . but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.”
1 Corinthians 1:25: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
Throughout church history, theologians such as Augustine and Anselm have reiterated the commitment to “faith seeking understanding.”
All of the above excerpts communicate the idea that reason operates best when it is solidly within the context of a robust devotion to God. We integrate all other learning into a worshipful life with God and a commitment to following Christ over the course of our entire lives. We make sure reason is chastened by faith because when reason functions independently, it can lead us astray, especially in our conclusions about God and his workings (theologians talk about the noetic effects of sin, or the negative influence of sin on our minds and thinking).
We begin a new semester with the desire to finish with a stronger, more enriched faith than before. This requires intentional preparation and ongoing focus. Regular involvement in a healthy local church is essential along the way, since a church by design places its priorities of worship and faith at the front and center. As faith leads the way and learning is done with excellence and humility, may we reach the goal of greater intimacy with God and greater confidence in him.