Grasping God: How Important Is Theology?

A couple of years ago, I had the joy of reading the book God and the
Astronomers
by Doctor Robert Jastrow. The book is a fantastic exploration of astronomy, and how it forces us to look away from ourselves and find something bigger; but, he isn’t just speaking about the stars. Doctor Jastrow means something bigger than that. Much bigger. Though he is himself an agnostic, he is referring to God. In a moment of candid transparency, Jastrow remarked,

At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. (see note 1).

In this brief remark, Doctor Jastrow has hit upon something that has echoed in the depths of the human heart since our very inception: we are created for more. There is more to the world than meets the eye, so to speak. Mysteries of human purpose will always remain elusive to the naturalist. That is where theology steps in. Good theology pulls back the veil over “what is,” and connects us to the “what should be.” That is to say, good theology exposes the heart and mind to their greatest longing: transcendence. But the key word to bear in mind here is the word “good.” Not all theology is good. Not every idea man has conceived of God is correct, nor is every doctrine true to life experience. The mind naturally requires reason and evidence if it is to allow the heart to make informed choices. So when I say good theology, I mean theology that is Biblical, robust, and reasonable. True to life, and cutting to the soul.

If you have been kind enough to read this far, you may be wondering what this has to do with apologetics, or mission, or outreach at all. The fact is: it matters a great deal. It has been my experience that there are two types, two brands, of unbeliever. The one rejects religion, Christianity in particular, because of some pain he has felt. His emotional wounds, or the wounds and pains of this evil world have caused him to question the legitimacy of believing in a God who claims to love us. The other rejects Christianity for a different reason. He has studied the issues and has chosen to reject the faith on the grounds that one particular doctrine or another is illogical. Seeing the perceived contradiction of faith, he has embraced atheism. Notice that I said, “perceived contradiction.” Most people who reject the incarnation, or the virgin birth, or whatever doctrine, do not do so because they understand the subtle but important nuances of Orthodox teaching on them very well. Usually, they fail to understand the doctrine in an Orthodox manner. They grasp part of it, but not all of it, and so fall to the same error as many heretics from centuries past. People reject what they do not understand. Period.

That is why I am writing this article (and many to come). The church needs to wake up the need of the culture we live in. People are hungry for truth. But these same people have failed to understand the logical nature of the faith. They wait in darkness for someone to show them the light. We need to engage the unbeliever with truth: evidential and coherent truth. I believe that happens on two fronts. First, robust demonstrations of the evidences of Christian faith. How do we know God exists? What evidence exists for the resurrection? Second, by engaging a horribly confused culture with clear, logical, and relevant demonstrations of Biblical orthodoxy. If they reject a doctrine they do not understand, then what they need is an explanation, not someone to slip them an invitation to church and pray that works. So I hope and pray that you join me. Join me in developing clear convictions regarding truth. Dig into deep arenas of Christian doctrine. Find out what you believe and why. Both the What and the Why matter if we are going to impact a world for Christ. Walk with me as we explore historic doctrines and how to defend them. And, as always, may God guide you into all truth.

 

Notes:

1. Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 2nd ed. (n.p.: W.W Norton and Company, n.d.), 107.

 

 

Posted in Theology

Skeptical

“I just don’t believe in God.” That one sentence, or some version of it, is becoming increasingly more common in the world in which we live. People are much more open about their unbelief, and that’s okay. Everyone needs to express their opinions and beliefs. It is a fundamental part of being human. That is what I want to nurture here at Fundamental Reason. I dream of a world in which unbelievers can feel comfortable in telling me why they disagree with me. Many people have sincere questions or concerns that have never been answered, or have, tragically, been mocked. So that is the purpose of this post. I am asking any unbeliever with sincere questions or thoughts to freely tell me why you are not a Christian. If you have a genuine reason, please leave it in the comments here, or contact me through the contact form provided. I would love to hear your thoughts! It is my prayer that, through mutual discussion and respect, each of us can grow.

 

Disclaimer: If you are here seeking to be combative, start a fight, or be generally mean spirited or abusive, I am asking you not to comment. This is intended to produce considerate conversations on the issues raised. Anyone violating this simple request will be removed. Thanks for your understanding!

Posted in General Apologetics

Reasoned Reading: Just The Arguments

Anybody who knows me will tell you that I greatly enjoy reading. It is an matter of learning and exploration that I believe should hold great importance for any person: believer or not. As such, I endeavor to read fairly widely, delving into subjects I wish to explore with more depth. One particular area of thought I enjoy reading is philosophy. I find the challenge to exercise my God-given faculties of reason compelling, and that is why I initially picked up the book Just the Arguments. What I discovered was a book that did just what it purported to do: lay out famous arguments in the history of Western thought. However, I quickly learned that this was not going to prove to be an easy read. The book assumes a collegiate level understanding of Western Philosophy, and is intended to accompany lectures at the undergraduate level. It is extremely broad in scope, covering arguments from several sub-disciplines within philosophy such as: metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. Due to the great variety of material covered, a comprehensive review of the book is impossible to attempt in only one post. For that reason, I want to make two remarks for any interested potential readers. First, the book is not an introductory text. As said above, it assumes the reader has taken several collegiate courses in philosophy. If you are interested in learning more about philosophy as a whole, start somewhere else and work your way into this book. Second, though the authors do a decent job at remaining unbiased concerning many of the arguments, at times it felt as though they were trying to convince you of there own view, rather than simply expounding the argument as given. It is subtle, but it happens throughout the book. With that in mind, my overall thoughts concerning the book were that it was lively, though difficult at times. It does a good job of cutting through dense prose to unveil the key elements to many important ideas in the history of thought. Pick it up if you are a seasoned philosopher; and, as always, happy reading!

Rating: 8/10
Category: General Philosophy

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

Aikin on Justified Belief

“…if you believe something, then you should be able to explain why you do so; that is, you should be able to give a reason that counts in favor of the truth of your belief. This is simply what it is to be accountable for and in charge of your beliefs.” – Scott Aikin in Just The Arguments<em

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in General Apologetics

Philosophy is Unavoidable – William Lane Craig PhD

William Lane Craig discusses the importance of philosophy for the Christian.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in General Apologetics

Athens and Jerusalem: Why Philosophy and Theology Are Not Opposed

Over the last few weeks, the box office gains have soared for the newly released movie “God’s Not Dead.” The film tells the story of Josh Wheaton, a college freshman who enters his first philosophy class with high hopes. But what he finds in the classroom is a challenge that will shake him to the very core. He must publicly disavow the existence of God in order to pass the class. While it is by no means my goal to critique the film, I do think it illustrates an attitude that is prevalent among many of our Christian brothers: the fear of philosophy. The idea is this: if you take up an interest in philosophy, it will shake your faith. A philosopher’s goal is to undermine Christianity and make everyone atheists. Upon hearing ideas like this, many believers naturally react negatively toward philosophy. But it is my contention that philosophy and faith are not enemies. In fact, they are closely related. There are several reasons that I hold to this.

First, philosophy and theology both work toward a common goal. Both disciplines seek to accurately describe the world in which we live. It is important here to give a succinct definition of what philosophy actually is. According to Dr. Norman Geisler, philosophy is, “the critical analysis of fundamental concepts of human inquiry, and the normative discussion of how human thought and action ought to function, as well as the description of the nature of reality.” Essentially, analytic philosophy seeks to determine what a man means, and whether or not it is true. Philosophy is concerned with the pursuit of truth. The definition of the word testifies to this fact, as philosophy literally means “the love of wisdom”. So, with a neutral understanding of what philosophy is, it becomes easy to see why it compliments theology so well. Theology seeks the truth about God and our life in relation to him. Philosophy seeks this truth as well. Who is the divine? How do we know him? Does he make sense? These are questions that both philosophers and theologians ask. Clearly then, the two are really a team and not opponents.

Second, philosophy lends clarity to theology. As the church has moved through history, it has faced various doctrinal crises, such as the Arian controversy. In moments like this, it became necessary for the church to formulate creedal statements that are theologically accurate, and yet comprehensible and clear in thought. The Athanasian Creed is a good example of this. The creed seeks to lay out the doctrinal truths behind the Trinity in a way that makes sense without contradicting. So theology was present to formulate the doctrinal core, but contradiction, logic, and sense are the realms of philosophy. We use philosophic tools to determine whether or not something is a contradiction, or whether it makes sense. What resulted at Nicea was a creed that is theologically accurate and logically valid. It serves as an example of a scriptural merger between theology and reason. In fact, we apply philosophy to our theology all the time. If you have ever sat in a theology class or a church service and tried to understand how exactly a teaching made sense, or whether or not it is true, you have used philosophy. We should engage in philosophical reasoning to make our doctrinal positions as clear and forceful as possible.

Third, every single person is a philosopher in some sense or another. This goes hand in hand with the above point, but it bears repeating. Philosophy is the pursuit of truth. It is the use of our natural, God-given faculties of reason to come to reasonable conclusions based on good arguments. So if you have ever thought “that makes sense” then you have done philosophy. Even if you think it is wrong to do philosophy, you can not express that belief, or reasons for that belief, without engaging in philosophy because philosophy is reasoned statements about reality and logic.

Based on the above three reasons: the common ground of philosophy and theology, the clarity philosophy lends to theology, and the universality of philosophy, it is abundantly clear that good philosophical reasoning and good theology are close friends. The Christian need not be terrified of giving reasons for his belief. He should not be afraid to ask or face the hard questions about truth. In the words of Socrates, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in General Apologetics, Theology

Answers to Your Questions

Recently, I have been torn between topics I would like to consider here at Fundamental Reason. That’s exactly why I need your help! Below you will see a link to a very brief poll. There, a set of topics I am considering writing on will appear. Please take a moment to answer on the poll and let me know what you are the most interested in. You can also submit an answer not included on the poll. I can’t wait to hear what you guys are excited about, and will be making a choice soon! Happy reading!

Posted in General Apologetics
Follow me on Twitter
Unreached People Groups
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 636 other followers