Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday: Faith and Reason

[... in balance]

Writing about Holy Week presents difficulties, no matter how you slice the Easter egg. The most obvious one is, not everyone is concerned about its religious significance or implications. For some of my friends, the best thing about it is a three-day weekend. They've been working their hearts out or their buns off in a hospital or clinic somewhere, and frankly, they deserve a break. Some are also persons of faith, and while they appreciate the time off, they're thinking about what these days mean to them in a different way. In either case, they are my friends and that is what counts.

In the second century A.D. (or C.E., if you prefer), a style of theological literature came into vogue that has become known as apologetics. The word itself is derived from the Greek word apologia, meaning a reasoned explanation or defense. Accordingly, apologetics refers to an effort to explain the rational basis for the claims of faith.

The problem is, I can't really say it was anything particularly rational that led to the development of my own convictions. It was more an intuitive sense of the way things are and how faith is an appropriate response to them. Now, viewed from that perspective, it does reflect a rational process, but not necessarily one characterized by logical argument.

Truth be told, I'm not sure it's strictly possible to arrive at a position of faith by means of reason alone any more than it's possible to think oneself into being in love. We can persuade ourselves that we feel a certain way, but after all is said and done, loving is a matter of the heart. We bloody well ought to use common sense to avoid getting ourselves into a situation we could come to regret, but common sense doesn't operate in place of love, but rather alongside it. I suspect that's how reason and faith work together for me, each complimenting the other, one keeping my heart warm, and the other, my head clear.

(Creative Commons image of balance by Stefan Mendelsohn via Flickr)
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