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What's the role of reason in Faith?

Faith and Reason

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1eschator83
Edited: Mar 31, 2017, 1:08pm Top

I hope we can post and discuss here at least a few of the major teachings of the Church Fathers.

2eschator83
Mar 31, 2017, 1:44pm Top

From St Augustine's Enchiridion:
The things which originate in the senses or are discovered by the mind's faculty of understanding, are to be defended by reason. Those things, however, which transcend our sense experience or which we have not grasped and cannot grasp by our own intellect, we must indubitably believe on the testimony of those witnesses by whom the Scriptures, rightfully called Divine, were written--witnesses who by Divine Assistance were enabled either by means of the senses or the mind to see or even to foresee these things.

3pmackey
Apr 3, 2017, 12:13pm Top

Are you talking about teachings such as the Trinity? Examples of topics would be helpful.

4eschator83
Apr 3, 2017, 2:11pm Top

I hope to stay with the issue of the role of reason in our faith. I've read that the Church was deeply divided as early as the 2nd century (perhaps even more than by heretics and schismatics) by adherents of rationalism at Antioch (?) vs mystics-- or Spiritualists-- at Alexandria (?).
I'd like to understand this better, yet I am far more interested in celebrating and expanding our faith than investigating problems and controversy.
Both reason and Revelation seem to me to have essential roles in kerygma, apologetics, evangelism, catechism and worship. I enjoy reading what the Fathers said more than most contemporary opinions.
There were many attacks on reason, rationalism, and wisdom, but also concern about excessive mysticism.
Discussion of our awareness of the Trinity is an excellent topic, because Jesus' instruction of baptism in the names of the Persons of the Trinity was not very explicit as a Revelation, and I think most of the support for our belief in the Trinity in based on reason more than on Spiritualism, Revelation, or mysticism

5pmackey
Apr 5, 2017, 12:40pm Top

Regarding the Trinity, I take it as a matter of faith because of Church doctrine, and on verses such as the one you cited, as well as other references in the Bible to the three "persons" in God. A book that really helped me understand is Theological Tractates and The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. It's been years since I read it but I had several breakthrough moments when I understood the Trinity better.

I'm afraid I'm just an amateur theologian or philosopher. I believe strongly that Faith and Reason go hand in hand, but if you delve into deep waters I likely be left behind on the kiddie side of the pool.

6johnthefireman
Apr 5, 2017, 1:12pm Top

>5 pmackey:

On the Trinity and breakthrough moments, I once again recommend Richard Rohr's The Divine Dance, which is one of the best modern reflections on the Trinity that I have ever seen.

7eschator83
Edited: Apr 5, 2017, 1:49pm Top

For several years I've been fascinated that my feelings during prayer can sometimes change substantially, depending on to which Person of the Trinity I've addressed the prayer, or whether to The Trinity as a Person, which often strongly appeals to me and seems to provide a particular reward.
I've rewritten a number of my own prayers, as well as Common and Liturgical Prayers, because changing the addressee usually suggests further changes in the language of the prayer.
Have you ever tried it? Could you share your feelings?
As a convert to Catholicism, and later a long-standing member of our RCIA team, I've seen many testimonies by converts who have cited the authority of the Church, and Church leaders, as major factors in their belief, and their conversion, but I'm not sure whether this is primarily spiritual or reason, or perhaps essentially both. As St John Paul II wrote: Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth...

82wonderY
Apr 5, 2017, 3:56pm Top

For me, faith was experienced as a gift in one moment in time; and that faith opened my access to the beauty and logic of the Church teachings. So faith was the key.

Have you read Surprised by Truth?

9eschator83
Edited: Apr 5, 2017, 5:14pm Top

I absolutely love Lewis and almost all his Evangelistic books, especially Surprised by Joy, but also Pilgrim's Regress, Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, The Weight of Glory, Abolition of Man, pretty much everything he wrote.
I think I've written reviews on all of these in other message boards, and have held off entering these books in my catalog at LT until I get my Saint books entered.
Did you notice there is a group here called friends of CS Lewis? I'm struggling with myself to post there--I opened a fans of CSL group on another site, but I suppose I was overly enthusiastic and thus wasn't much appreciated.
God calls each of us to Faith repeatedly, and I've been blessed to hear His Call many times. It's strange; His call and Revelation may be said by some to be mystical, but if you hear it, and listen, and follow Him, it is the most real, the most logical, the most concrete part of our lives.
Would you consider sharing your moment? In any event, Deo gratias for what you've already shared.
Any chance you'll come to the Lewis group and talk about Joy or other books?

10johnthefireman
Apr 6, 2017, 1:02am Top

>9 eschator83: His call and Revelation may be said by some to be mystical, but if you hear it, and listen, and follow Him, it is the most real, the most logical, the most concrete part of our lives

I think I understand what you are trying to say, but I will always challenge the idea that "mystical" is not "real, logical and a concrete part of our lives". Things are rather more coherent and connected and rather less dualistic than we often think, and the Triune God encompasses all.

112wonderY
Edited: Apr 6, 2017, 7:41am Top

>9 eschator83: I too love C. S. Lewis, but that's not what I was referring to. Surprised by Truth is a collection of 11 conversion stories. It's been a while since I've read it; but Scott Hahn's story is in it. He was an Evangelical minister/scholar whose studies brought him to Catholicism. It's a great collection of logic leading to faith, in particular, Catholic faith.

Okay, background-
My husband died when I was 35. I moved myself and young children back to another state where I knew few people, but where we owned a house. I was cradle Catholic, but it hadn't stuck - I was only a deist, acknowledging that the universe was created, but I couldn't imagine a supreme being interested in humanity (much less me personally). However, I was moved to enroll my children in Catholic school, in order to give them an informed background so they could make their own faith decisions. Usually, this involves a commitment to put a certain amount in the collection basket over and above tuition. But Father Bell (who just died last week) only required that we attend church each week. At some point, as a move to get to know some of my new neighbors, I joined a small faith group; many were being formed one season.

I must have attended for several years. I recall one member was an old codger whose views made my back stiffen and I would silently argue his points while scraping and painting the siding of my house. (Think Karate Kid "wax on; wax off") One meeting just short of my 40th birthday, (significant, eh?) one of the ladies was talking about the Trinity. While she spoke, it was like blinders fell away and she was standing there holding a very precious gift. My brain silently exploded with a new understanding, and I've eagerly pursued my faith and action and relationship with God ever since. I will always consider Mrs. W to be my spiritual midwife.

>10 johnthefireman: I find it interesting that those who prefer 'science' to religion don't see that the 2000 years of spiritual experiences of millions of believers constitutes a fairly valid experimental sample.

12johnthefireman
Edited: Apr 6, 2017, 8:00am Top

>9 eschator83:, >11 2wonderY:

For me I don't think awareness of the Trinity was a single blinding moment, but rather a slow process of engaging with enlightened professors in the seminary and the Catholic university, reading associated with my MA in Spirituality and beyond, and many conversations with enlightened mentors and colleagues since. More recently the discovery of Richard Rohr's writing was significant.

I was also around 40 when I reconnected with God, following burn out in Sudan. I would say at that point it was due to a mixture of contemplative prayer, good spiritual direction, and engaging with good rational and intellectual conversations - once again I reject the dualism of mystical v rational. But at the time it was not specifically a Trinitarian experience, just the experience of the Divine. A lot more thought, prayer, discernment and conversation over the last 20 years, particularly exploring along the lines of community, relationship, Creation Spirituality, suffering, mercy, holistic and non-dualistic being, Catholic Social Thought and much more has gradually led me to a deeper appreciation of Trinity.

13Arctic-Stranger
Apr 6, 2017, 5:33pm Top

I did a post-graduate course on the Trinity in the early 2000s, and read for three years concerning the Trinity.

Reading John Zizioulas's Being as Communion was influential (and seeing the film About a Boy around the same time helped.) Also reading David Cunninghams These Three are One.

14pmackey
Apr 6, 2017, 7:14pm Top

I have some books to add to my reading list.

15eschator83
Edited: Apr 7, 2017, 10:31am Top

>11 2wonderY: Many thanks for your courtesy in passing over my gaff on distinguishing Truth and Joy. I think there is an intense relationship between the two concepts, but that's a story for another day, and certainly no excuse for my flagrant lapse of senioritis.
I too have increased my reading wish list based on this thread, and I'd like to express my sense of wonder and joy in the small faith groups I attended and led for nearly 25 years. Much of the faith sharing was very real and wonderful Blessing.

16johnthefireman
Apr 7, 2017, 12:47am Top

>13 Arctic-Stranger:

Good to see you posting again, Arctic-Stranger - or maybe you have been all along but we just haven't been posting in the same threads.

17johnthefireman
Apr 7, 2017, 6:12am Top

From today's meditation by Richard Rohr - this just struck me as being relevant:

A universal notion of Christ takes mysticism beyond the mere individual and private level that has been seen as mysticism’s weakness. If authentic God experience overcomes the primary false split between yourself and the divine, then it should also overcome the equally false split between yourself and the rest of creation.

For some of us, the first split is overcome personally in an experience of Jesus, but for many others (maybe even most!), union with the divine is first experienced through the Christ: in nature, in moments of pure love, silence, inner or outer music, with animals, awe before beauty, or some kind of “Brother Sun and Sister Moon” experience. Why? Because creation itself is the first incarnation of Christ, the primary and foundational “Bible” that reveals the path to God. The first incarnation of the Christ Mystery started about 13.8 billion years ago at “The Big Bang.” So some start with Jesus, but many who began with the Christ Mystery did not have that experience validated by the Church. They looked secular, humanistic, or like mere “nature mystics.” But God uses and honors all starting points!

18pmackey
Apr 7, 2017, 12:25pm Top

>17 johnthefireman: ...creation itself is the first incarnation of Christ, the primary and foundational “Bible” that reveals the path to God.

Yes! Which is why I feel closer to God out in the woods.

Speaking of Richard Rohr... which book would you recommend I start with?

19eschator83
Apr 7, 2017, 1:24pm Top

>17 johnthefireman: Can I be the only one who has deep trouble understanding many of Fr Rohr's phrases?
universal notion
authentic God experience
first incarnation of Christ (before His birth?)
foundational Bible (ie Word? before Moses?)
experience validated
I'd be very grateful for anyone's interpretations. Similar difficult phrases continue throughout this email, which seems to be part of an online course, The Cosmic Christ: universal Salvation.
The concept of universal Salvation seems entirely contradictory to Jesus' teaching about how few will be Saved.
Midway through the email was the most difficult phrase:
"We are saved inside the Christ Mystery since the beginning of consciousness."
Could you restate what's to be learned from these?

20johnthefireman
Apr 7, 2017, 2:17pm Top

>18 pmackey:

The Divine Dance

>19 eschator83:

I can't explain all of those in a few words, but the "first incarnation of Christ" is, as you say yourself, the Word, the Logos - "In the beginning was the Word..."

For more on the Cosmic Christ one should perhaps read that great theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

21pmackey
Apr 8, 2017, 9:03am Top

>20 johnthefireman: I've just purchased the The Divine Dance on CD and will add it to my reading list. Thanks for the advice!

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