Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Quadrilateral -- Reason

For the last 300 years the western world has been ruled by thought and reason. To the point that when we are asked if we want to do something we say we are going to think about it. We might not realize the impact reason has had on our lives. On the other hand there are areas where reason is looked down upon or as non-spiritual. Often what would be called the pentecostal movement is cautious of reason and thinking. So how are we to navigate the waters of reason?

Wesley and many before as well as after him knew we needed to keep our brains in gear as followers of Christ. This however goes far beyond logic and linear thinking. The modern evolution of the thought of Wesley and others is to say the things God calls us to must be logical and make sense. If this is followed through the end point is that God never calls or leads us to do something which we cannot make sense of. From my own life I know this to be a problematic conclusion.

It is not that our callings need to make sense, it means that we are to engage the fullness of our intellect around issues and decisions. What is meant by the fullness of our intellect means we are to be students and not just accept the company line. We should be people who study, by video, by book, by teaching, by art by whatever means we best gain information. However, we should not be people who simply study one angle of the issue. In my own effort to be a student I have begun reading more books written by authors that I do not always agree with, or for that matter like. I read magazines and journals were the primary thoughts and leanings are very different than mine. This is what is meant by reason.

Another way of thinking about reason is to live and examined life.For years and centuries people have journeyed in faith, and never examining their faith. An unexamined faith is a thin or shallow faith which is easily rocked by the waves of this world. the examined faith is one where the person knows what they believe, why they believe it, and they have tested that belief against others. An examined faith is one that asks questions about what God is doing, and a faith that reads the scriptures and allows us to question what we are reading.

Jesus told us to have faith like that of a child. Classically this has been interpreted to mean acceptance of faith without question or concern. Obviously the people who put forward this interpretation did not spend time around children. Children are full of questions and concerns. They want to know why and how, they want to be involved on every level, not just accept the pat answers. Children do this, while not questioning if they are loved, accepted and a part of the family. Interestingly children who do not ask a lot of questions, often do wonder if they are loved. Questioning is evidence there is an atmosphere of love and safety.

May we all live a faith that is examined and well reasoned.

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