Faith and Reason (Part 1)

Posted: July 21, 2010 in Reasonable faith
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FAITH AND REASON

by Dima Zhyvov

I have been asked by a good friend of mine to address the seeming contradiction of faith and reason. Are these two concepts mutually exclusive? Is not Christian faith just an irrational retreat in the face of the absence of evidence? Is it not an oxymoron to call faith reasonable? Isn’t Christian faith just plainly blind? Where does faith come from? Can one have faith if he or she has doubts? What is Christian faith based on?

What follows are my thoughts on the matter. It will probably take many pages and hours of writing, as well as your time taken reading it to cover all of the related questions, so I realize that it is extraordinarily difficult to address this meaty topic at once in its entirety. I do not intend to do that, rather, I wish to tackle specific questions people ask and answer them on a popular level, realizing that there are tons of materials on a professional level available to take them further. Therefore, I will write several posts dedicated to the relationship between faith and reason, attempting to answer questions one at a time. Please treat this post as the first part of the series.

PART 1

Is Christian faith blind?

Truly it is an extremely interesting question. I presume many unbelievers would answer it affirmatively without a second thought. Of course, it is! Faith must be blind, otherwise it stops being faith! Faith, on their view, is what you have when you do not know something with a reasonable degree of certainty. If believing in something or someone, in our case God, involves no direction, evidence, reasonableness, knowledge or understanding then such faith by definition is blind or reduced to nothing but a leap in the dark without any guidance whatsoever.

I find it interesting, however, that few of the unbelievers realize that they largely owe such definition of faith to Christian thinkers. Ironically, one of the most prominent and influential proponents for the idea of blind faith was Søren Kierkegaard (great Danish philosopher and, arguably, the father of so-called existentialism), who himself happened to be a Christian. Søren together with his followers believed that faith and reason are two separate concepts; in some cases they are mutually exclusive. He said where there is faith, there is no or very little space for reason or, vice-versa, where there is reason there is no room for faith. He also affirmed that faith is called faith precisely because it is irrational, since a person who rationally knows something to be true, does not need faith. Søren develops this idea further and provides an illustration from the famous story of Abraham and Isaac from the Old Testament. In the book of Genesis the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham believed God and obeyed Him (retrospectively, we of course realize that God never intended or desired that Abraham would actually murder his son, since He had totally different purposes in mind, such as to test Abraham’s faith and point to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus the Son of God, etc.). He comments on these Biblical passages inferring from them that this is an example of the leap of faith (or blind faith) on the part of Abraham. According to Søren, Abraham obeyed God irrationally, without reason by simple and blind faith alone. Thus, he says, Christian life is primarily this – to obey God through blind faith and then, maybe, in some rare instances reason or intellect will follow.

I cannot overstress how many people believe after Søren Kierkegaard that this is precisely what biblical concept of faith means – believing irrationally or believing through making an existential jump of blind faith. In some Christian circles, it seems to me, it has become almost virtuous to think of faith in God as a mind-less enterprise of “just believing”. Many Christians are taught to believe that what the Lord requires of us humans is blind obedience without understanding. God, on their view, doesn’t value our minds and intellect as much as He values our hearts. Ignore your doubts, never ask intellectual questions, instead always refer to “mystery” and such words as “this is beyond our understanding” and so on! I personally have seen the damage that such an attitude generates, especially in the lives of young people seeking to understand Christian faith. Now please do not get me wrong! I wholeheartedly agree that we are finite human beings and as such cannot fully and exhaustively comprehend everything about God, life, etc. But just like when communicating with others, we do not have exhaustive communication with them in a sense of exhaustively understanding everything they say (think of the distinct connotations we bring or attach to words based on our past experience, etc. that the other person does not share with us!).  We, nevertheless, can still have true communication. In a similar manner, belief in God is best understood in the context of our relationship with Him. And it is here I think where the concept of blind faith fails biblically. According to the Bible God created us as intelligent beings that are able to communicate and understand propositional truth (true statements about reality) God chooses to reveal to us in Scriptures. God did not create machines who would obey him because they do not have a choice or lack understanding. He gave us brains and he gave us an ability to ask questions, seek the truth, understand the truth and make appropriate choices based on that truth.
Also Jesus deliberately made it clear in the gospels that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. He taught that there was no commandment greater than this one. Now let us reason together. What can the commandment to love God with our minds mean? If you are a Christian, imagine you are trying to love God and worship Him for his mercy. But then your mind starts asking why He is merciful or how you can know that He is merciful. You then read from the New Testament that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. You read that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and so on. Your heart and spirit may respond to this message positively with a desire to worship God, but your mind persists – why was His death necessary? How can somebody dying for somebody else fulfill just and righteous requirements of God? How can God the Father send God the Son? What is the Trinity? How can there be one God in three persons? Is it all just a fairy tale? Is it wishful thinking or maybe worse, a crazy and barbaric understanding of God in the ancient times? Why was blood necessary? What is the point of offering sacrifice after all? And the questions can go on and on. Now, here some Christians, following the idea of blind faith, make a crucial mistake, thinking that these “doubts” or such questions are signs of lack of faith. They get frustrated with themselves saying something like this “I want to love and serve God. I believe in my heart that He is good but I do not understand him in my mind. I know I should just believe”. Then usually they pray to God asking Him to remove such intellectual doubts from their heads. What a mistake!!! They could have just missed an opportunity to love God deeper with their minds! Could it be that intellectual questions that arise in our heads are ways through which our minds also long to love God through deeper understanding of what He has done and who He is? For me it was such a delight to know that when I have intellectual questions about my faith I should not feel afraid or threatened. On the contrary I must rejoice and take them seriously because I want to love God and have faith in Him fully as a total man, which includes my mind. And for the mind to love someone is to understand him or her. I love my wife more now than before because, among other reasons, I understand in my mind who she is and what she is like more now than before. I got to know her better through our years of marriage and I understand that, God willing, there are more years ahead of me to know her. And this knowing includes asking her questions, getting answers, understanding things in my mind, etc. In the same way God longs for us to get to know Him truly and to love Him fully. And this is where I think Søren Kierkegaard had it wrong.  He said to obey God you must have blind faith and such things as reason, knowledge and understanding are irrelevant to the matter. I say to this that this is not a Biblical concept of faith!

In my next article I hope to show you what I believe to be the biblical concept of faith as opposed to the “blind faith” concept. Stay in touch!

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Comments
  1. Åsa says:

    Great initiative!
    Haven’t read much yet, but will certainly do!

  2. Eric Hyde says:

    You actually have Kierkegaard all wrong. His main thrust is that the incarnation is a paradox, and a paradox cannot be understood through logic (else it wouldn’t be a paradox), instead a person had to come to the faith through their existential being. What that means is that they could not come to the faith simply through abstract thought (as Hegel’s system taught, and the bulk of Lutheranism believed in the 19th century). One had to have a living encounter with Christ to know him. The leap of faith is a leap not against the understanding, but a leap according to understanding – understanding that Christ represents a paradox (i.e. eternal God, without beginning or end in time, comes into being in the person of Jesus, who had a beginning and an end in time).

    Since direct mediation of the truth of the incarnation cannot be had, one has to come to the truth of God though his whole being (as you noted): spirit, soul, mind and strength – not just mind.

    Hope this helps. Cheers.

    • Thank you for your comment, Eric! It seems to me that the moment anyone starts commenting on Kierkegaard’s understanding of faith much controversy follows and, apparently, I am no exception to this. However, it is not surprising, since this existential philosopher had been a grossly misunderstood figure even at the time of his writing. Let me quote Kierkegaard himself: “People understand me so little that they fail even to understand my complaints that they do not understand me”.
      Much of my own understanding and analysis of Kierkegaard’s ideas come from Francis A. Schaeffer’s book The God Who is There. In chapter 2 of this book Schaeffer analyzes western culture and the development of the philosophy that had shaped it, paying special attention to the ideas of Søren Kierkegaard. He writes:
      “It is not our purpose here to discuss all that Kierkegaard taught. There was much more than this. But the important thing about him is that when he put forth the concept of a leap of faith, he became in a real way the father of all modern existential thought, both secular and theological.
      As a result of this, from that time on, if rationalistic man wants to deal with the really important things of human life (such as purpose, significance, the validity of love), he must discard rational thought about them and make a gigantic, nonrational leap of faith”.
      I gave an example in my article of how Kierkegaard interprets the passage about Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. Kierkegaard’s position, it seems to me, is that Abraham obeyed God without having any rational grounds for doing so (such rational grounds would include, for instance, prior knowledge of God’s faithfulness, propositional truth revealed to Abraham in God’s covenantal promises made to him earlier, experiential as well as conceptual knowledge of God’s character and power, etc.). Please site the sources if you wish to challenge this understanding of mine regarding Kierkegaard’s line of thought on this point. I would be very happy to look it up.
      You write “a person had to come to the faith through their existential being”, meaning “they could not come to the faith simply through abstract thought… One had to have a living encounter with Christ to know him” and I agree with this wholeheartedly. Reason alone cannot get a person to the saving faith in Christ and hence to the knowledge of Him. However, my concern with Kierkegaard is the kind of knowledge he is talking about when, supposedly, the person encounters Christ. Will that “knowing Christ”, among other things, involve our minds at all on Kierkegaard’s view, if so, than how? What role does reason play on Kierkegaard’s view when talking about our relationship with God?
      In any case, even if, and I am happy to grant this, Kierkegaard’s intention was not an absolute separation of the rational and logical from faith, this is precisely what his writings gradually led to. Our modern, or perhaps some would argue post-modern, society is an evidence of that.

      By the way, are you Krista’s brother? 🙂
      I like your blog! It’s funny that we are dealing with the same topic on our blogs simultaneously, having identical interfaces. One of us ought to change it:)

      God bless you!

      • Eric Hyde says:

        Haha, your last comment is hilarious. I thought it strange as well when I first found your blog that we had picked the same interface. Maybe the stacked books thing is perfect for the topic of faith v. reason, I don’t know.

        I’ve been an avid reader of Kierkegaard for about 7 years, worked through nearly all of his works, and even wrote my theological masters thesis on him. The topic you have chosen to tackle is no small ordeal, and, without a doubt, many if not most commentators have traditionally misread him. Part of this is due to crappy German translations from his original works in Danish, and the fact that his deeply religious works were not translated until much later in other languages, therefore causing many to wonder if he was even a Christian himself. I’ll just lay out a couple of main concepts and see what you think.

        Much of SK’s writing is a rebuttal to Hegel. You really get this when you read the “Postscripts.” His main critique of Hegel’s system (which attempted to reduce faith to mere rationality, or pure thought) was that objectivity requires a certain amount of distancing between the subject who performs the inquiry and the object under investigation. This “objective-distancing” works well in science but terribly in one’s approach to existential concerns. SK said:

        “Has anyone who previously did not have faith been brought a single step nearer to its aquisition? No, not a single step. Faith does not result simply from a scientific inquiry; it does not come directly at all. On the contrary, in this objectivity one tends to lose that infinite personal interestedness in passion which is the condition of faith, the ‘ubique et nusquam’ in which faith can come into being.” (Postscripts)

        The point is that the objective approach to Christianity is without passion, and Christianity is precisely passion and subjectivity. That leads us to the second point: what is subjectivity?

        This is major in SK’s thought. Many have been dismally confused by SK’s use of the word “subjectivity.” By it he does not mean “subjectivism” as if truth is relative. Rather, he means the activity of the subject (i.e. the person). His famous thesis: truth is subjectivity, is the statement SK hung his hat on.

        In contrast, Hegel proposed that truth could be known strictly in ones intellect, through rational inquiry. Basically in line with the whole of the Enlightenment thinking. But when applied to faith this, SK believed, was disasterous. Here is where SK harped on the fact that the incarnation of Christ was paradox. Jesus came in perfect incognito. One could not know that He was God simply by looking at him, or studying his history, or doing a biopsy on him. The apostles were as much disadvantaged in knowing him as God as we are today, 2000 years later.

        Why? because He wanted it that way. Remember Peter’s great confession: “You are the Christ, Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven revealed it.” In other words: your intellect did not reach this conclusion, it was a supernatural act of God.

        SK said: “So then there is a man who wants to have faith; well let the comedy begin. He wants to have faith but he wants to assure himself with the aid of objective diliberation and approximation. What happens? With the aid of approximation (history for example), the absurd (the paradox of the incarnation) becomes something else; it becomes probable, it becomes more probable, it may become to a high degree and exceedingly probable. Now he is all set to believe it… he can almost know, or as good as know, to a higher degree and exceedingly almost know – but believe it, that cannot be done, for the absurd is precisely the object of faith and only that can be believed… he no longer has faith, since he almost knows, as good as knows, to a high degree and exceedingly almost knows.” (Postscripts)

        This reply is getting a bit long. I’ll end it here though it could go on and on. Read Concluding Postscript if you get the chance. It’s a game changer type read:)

      • Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Eric!

        Your ideas have intrigued me:). I will to try find Kierkegaard’s Concluding Postscript and read it for myself to have a better grasp of his ideas.

        From your comment I understand Kierkegaard’s critique of a system that reduces faith to mere rationality or pure thought. Certainly such view of faith has very little to do with the biblical concept of faith. According to Hebraic understanding, faith cannot be reduced to mere mental activity in the head, since it involves all of who we are, our whole existential being if you wish. I applaud to Kierkegaard’s revolt against the passionless, rationalistic approach to faith and God by many thinkers of the Enlightenment. An attempt to arrive at faith by unaided reason alone without the work of the Holy Spirit and his guidance is impossible. This is precisely what Francis Schaeffer’s analysis is in his trilogy of The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He is there and He is not silent. He writes that men in their search for a universal that would encompass and make sense of all the particulars in life (a unified field of knowledge) by reason alone have failed miserably, leaving men and women, who attempted independently of God to find real meaning and knowledge in life, with a strong sense of despair. He calls it the “line of despair”, to which rationalistic man of the Enlightenment era has arrived and finally crossed by consequently creating a sort of dichotomy or chasm between objective rational truth and subjective (meaning such that is being experienced by a subject or an individual) irrational (by this I mean not opposed to rational necessarily but rather outside of rational domain altogether) truth. Obviously for men who, according to Schaeffer, crossed this “line of despair”, faith belonged to the latter or upper category of unverifiable, unattainable by reason reality. When Kierkegaard attacks purely rationalistic approach to faith I think he had it right. What concerns me, however, is the other extreme on the part of Kierkegaard that apparently was formed in the process, namely, the separation between faith and reason to the point where the reasonable and faith bear no relationship to each other. So I guess my question to you concerning Kierkegaard is this – could you please clarify for me what you believe Kierkegaard’s view of the role of reason in relation to faith is exactly?
        Also it was not clear from your comment what value Kierkegaard ascribes to objective inquiry (for instance, study of history). Could you please share your views on that? I can appreciate Kierkegaard’s point when he says that “Faith does not result simply from a scientific inquiry; it does not come directly at all”, in that we cannot by such inquiry prove with certainty matters of faith (for instance, the mystery of incarnation); the furthest we can go is to render something highly probable or improbable and I concur to this. In fact, there are few things in life one can prove with the kind of evidence or proof required by the epistemology of scientism anyway. So I understand and subscribe to your last quotation from Kierkegaard as it describes the limit of “objective deliberation” (historical investigation being just one example of it) when applied to faith as well as your own thoughts on the absolute limit of scientific ways of establishing truth. The danger, however, is to dismiss such inquiry altogether and to strip Christian faith from the objective consideration of any kind (such as your comment that “Christianity is precisely passion and subjectivity”) Therefore, this is where my critique and concern with Kierkegaard lies – it is not his attack on rationalism (unwarranted and extreme position of lifting up reason to a place of autonomy), but his tendency of clinging to the other extreme view whereas faith and reason are divorced from each other. I realize here of course that the proper way of understanding Kierkegaard’s position is in the context of a fight against Hegelian rationalism. In fact, I grant that Kierkegaard himself would be horrified to find out how his ideas have been later employed and twisted to justify total separation of the reasonable and faith without keeping his thoughts in proper context of man’s struggle against prevalent anti-Christian philosophy of the time, however, the fact is that his ideas gradually led to a gap between faith and reason and it is this that I find unbiblical.
        Allow me to make my last comment and ask you a question in relation to it. You write “In other words: your intellect did not reach this conclusion, it was a supernatural act of God.” True, our faith is not ultimately based on arguments or external evidence, but on the work of the Holy Spirit on our being, however, can the Holy Spirit sometimes use arguments as instruments in bringing a person to Christ? In other words, does He work with our minds in the process of calling us unto Himself? If He does not, then I find it hard to understand the passages in Acts where Paul deliberately takes time, sits down and in love reasons and argues with Jews, showing to them though Scripture that Jesus is the awaited Christ. To me Paul’s evangelistic approach does not look like an invitation for them to make a leap of faith and entrust their lives to Christ without having reasonable grounds for doing so (in this example, such grounds would include, among other things of course, objective propositional truths revealed in “the Law and the Prophets”, that we could reasonably and objectively as opposed to only subjectively and experientially understand with the help of the Holy Spirit). Reasons and evidences alone are not by themselves sufficient but they can, nevertheless, play a part in person’s conversion.
        I have written much as well, so I better stop :). It is wonderful and enriching for me to converse with you about these matters. I would be very happy if you could answer my questions above as I recognize your deep appreciation and familiarity with Kierkegaard’s works, as well as my own lack of acquaintance with primary sources.

  3. Eric Hyde says:

    Btw, my blogs on faith and reason take a slightly different approach. I’d be curious to get your reaction if you get a chance to read them.

    Cheers.

    • I intend to read all of the articles on your blog shortly. I will let you know what my reaction to them is.
      By the way, to my horror I have realized that I have not introduced myself since there is no entry yet on my ABOUT page. Anyway, here is a very brief summary of who I am. My name is Dima and I come from Ukraine. Finished International Christian University in Kiev. Married to a wonderful and bright Ukrainian lady, whose name is Zhenya. Love philosophy and theology as you have probably figured by now. Currently I live and work in Sweden as a missionary in the Christian organization called Youth with a Mission. In September I plan to do a school here called School of Biblical Studies. Btw, check out the articles of my blog partner and friend Matt. He is a leader of the School of Biblical Studies here in Sweden.
      Cheers and thank you again for your valuable input!

      • Eric Hyde says:

        Wow, God speed to you and all your missionary work. One of my best friends from seminary is from Sweden. I keep promising I will come visit him and intend to in the next few years. Not sure where exactly he lives but he is teaching at a Bible college and running a ministry website called Sozo.

        Anyway, to introduce myself, I did both my undergrad and graduate work at ORU in Tulsa Oklahoma. Spent all my summers during my undergrad doing missionary work in Africa and Western Europe, and I pray to God that He will send me and my wife out into the field again soon. I’m a philosophy and theology nut. Currently I’ve been overly impressed with Eastern Orthodox theologians (Ware, Zizioulas, and Schmemann) and I am seriously considering becoming Orthodox. Kierkegaard was a game changer in my life. He is the one author I can say brought me to a real awakening with Christ, almost like a reconversion experience. So, I’m passionate about his works, to say the least.

        I’d give you a better bio but its late and I’m losing my brain power. I will respond to your questions above as soon as I can, and would highly recommend working through Postscripts. It’s beastly long, but well worth it and you’ll forever understand the man.

        Cheers Dima

      • Thank you for your kind words, Eric! May the Lord bless you and your family as He is revealing to you His will for your life!

        It is good to hear that you are interested in Eastern Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, many Protestants, I must confess, are utterly ignorant of the depth and richness that exist in this branch of Christianity. To my horror I found out how many protestant missionaries from some large denominations were briefed upon coming to Ukraine and Russia after USSR collapsed. I do not remember the exact quotation, but the idea was something like this: you are coming to pagan nations that are ignorant of Christianity, thus, you have a privilege of introducing them to the faith for the first time… Sadly, much damage was done by such missionary work, which was overlooking centuries of Christianity being present in Russia and Ukraine already and naively assuming that when apostolic era ended, somehow God stopped working in this world until Luther came and only then resumed His work 🙂

  4. Eric Hyde says:

    Great new interface, I’m going to have to change mine to it as well (haha).

    Let me answer the questions you posed above, a few posts ago. You asked:

    “could you please clarify for me what you believe Kierkegaard’s view of the role of reason in relation to faith is exactly?”

    Kierkegaard took the Socratic route on the interplay of reason and “faith” (though Socrates did not exactly deal with faith per se). The basic Socratic lesson is that we can never really know for certain the truth of something that is of an existential nature by mere objective definitions. Take examples like beauty, justice, courage. Socrate demonstrated that these concepts are best understood not objectively but in a kind of cosmic knowing that is built in us. SK did not stick to Socrate’s version of idealism, which is important to know. Kant reaffirmed this notion with is famous theory of the “ding an sick,” that is, we can never know through our intellect was a thing is in itself. We only know its outward manifestation. When applied to Christ this is all too evident.

    Look at the resurrection. It is absolutely impossible to demonstrate Christ’s resurrection based on objective knowledge. Even Mary at Jesus’ tomb did not recognize Him when He appeared to her there, the disciples at the shore of the Sea of Tiberias did not recognize Him, and the disciples on the way to Emmaus did not recognize Him because Jesus “holden their eyes that they should not know Him.” If those closest to Him did not even recognize Him in His visible person, we have no chance at doing so through histrical analysis. We are left with faith.

    But faith is not a departure from reason, faith is “transrational” (not SK’s words) not “irrational” or “anti-rational,” etc. SK would have said that reason helps one see that the incarnation is a paradox and that one “must” believe if he/she is to come to him. Waiting for one’s intellect to have a final judgement on the matter is inconceivable. They would remain in a state of diliberation, never coming to a decision.

    What may help to answer the rest of your questions is SK’s view of the stages of life. He split the stages into 3: the Aesthetic, the Ethical, and the Religious (A & B). In the aesthetic, one is truly led by their feelings and their intellect on every account (most people fall in this category). They remain in a constant state of relativity concerning truth, since they are always awaiting a final confirmation of their beliefs, which of course never comes. If they move to the ethical stage in means that they have taken the step to obey the “universal,” one’s duty to society and existence in general. Once they enter the religious stage, religiousness A, they find an authority that is higher than the universal; they find the absolute authority – God (here is where SK speaks about Abraham and Isaac). This is the stage where one finds himself in a state of isolation from mankind and wholly focused on God (like an ascetic type life).

    Up to this point the person is still driven by their reason and little else. It is not until one comes to the “leap of faith” that they enter into religiousness B (the stage where Abraham was). Here the person a total mystery to the “crowd” because where they are with God is not communicable. Abraham could not directly communicate his spiritual trial to sacrifice Isaac with anyone. This final stage is the stage where the leap comes into play, but SK always reminds the reader that one cannot get to this stage without having gone through religiousness A – where reason is still a dominating force in what one does and believes.

    It should be noted that moving from one stage to the other never annihilates the previous stage, it only dethrones it. In the religiousness B, reason is not demolished, only dethroned.

    Hence, SK was able to teach his philosophy without an inherent contradiction of using reason to destroy reason. I welcome you to visit my blog: Faith and Reason: What Reason says about Reason. You’ll get a second dip in why reason itself is a “leap of faith” in that reason has no court of higher appeals and must be used despite the fact that one cannot prove its relation to truth. In other words, reason presupposes truth without first demonstrating its “existence.” That is definitionally a “leap of faith” if there ever was one.

    Cheers brother. Hope all is well with you and your family in Sweden!

    • Don’t even think about it! This interface is mine!!! 🙂

      Anyway, back to our discussion.

      “Kierkegaard took the Socratic route on the interplay of reason and “faith” (though Socrates did not exactly deal with faith per se). The basic Socratic lesson is that we can never really know for certain the truth of something that is of an existential nature by mere objective definitions. Take examples like beauty, justice, courage. Socrate demonstrated that these concepts are best understood not objectively but in a kind of cosmic knowing that is built in us. SK did not stick to Socrate’s version of idealism, which is important to know. Kant reaffirmed this notion with is famous theory of the “ding an sick,” that is, we can never know through our intellect was a thing is in itself. We only know its outward manifestation. When applied to Christ this is all too evident.”
      I agree with your main thrust here. By the way, I never suggested that mere objective definitions were sufficient for understanding existential issues; I only claimed that they were a necessary part in most cases.
      “Look at the resurrection. It is absolutely impossible to demonstrate Christ’s resurrection based on objective knowledge. Even Mary at Jesus’ tomb did not recognize Him when He appeared to her there, the disciples at the shore of the Sea of Tiberias did not recognize Him, and the disciples on the way to Emmaus did not recognize Him because Jesus “holden their eyes that they should not know Him.” If those closest to Him did not even recognize Him in His visible person, we have no chance at doing so through histrical analysis. We are left with faith.”
      What I mean by reason being not sufficient but, nevertheless, often necessary integral part can be illustrated using the very example you have chosen. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit no one comes to the saving faith in Christ or in his resurrection in the Biblical sense of the word “faith” (as you yourself have showed well in your article on the Biblical concept of “salvation-type faith”). If it was not for the Lord’s decision to reveal Himself to His followers by choosing to illumine their minds and hearts to recognize Him, none would be able to know Him. I agree with you on this one. The trouble comes if one thinks that we are left with merely “subjective” faith here. I am reminded of an apostle Paul who wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ did not really rise from the dead our faith is futile. For Paul, resurrection of Christ was not merely an existential reality that turned his world upside down, which of course happened; it was also rooted in space-time history. When conveying his message of resurrection, Paul provides, among other things, a list of eye-witnesses to support his case. This, on my view, is what makes Christianity unique among other religions. We have faith, which is rooted in actual history. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and this is both a subjective (in the sense you explained in one of your comments) existential truth, which we can experience with all of who we are, and an objective reality, which we can approach historically.

      “But faith is not a departure from reason, faith is “transrational” (not SK’s words) not “irrational” or “anti-rational,” etc. SK would have said that reason helps one see that the incarnation is a paradox and that one “must” believe if he/she is to come to him. Waiting for one’s intellect to have a final judgement on the matter is inconceivable. They would remain in a state of diliberation, never coming to a decision.
      What may help to answer the rest of your questions is SK’s view of the stages of life. He split the stages into 3: the Aesthetic, the Ethical, and the Religious (A & B). In the aesthetic, one is truly led by their feelings and their intellect on every account (most people fall in this category). They remain in a constant state of relativity concerning truth, since they are always awaiting a final confirmation of their beliefs, which of course never comes. If they move to the ethical stage in means that they have taken the step to obey the “universal,” one’s duty to society and existence in general. Once they enter the religious stage, religiousness A, they find an authority that is higher than the universal; they find the absolute authority – God (here is where SK speaks about Abraham and Isaac). This is the stage where one finds himself in a state of isolation from mankind and wholly focused on God (like an ascetic type life).
      Up to this point the person is still driven by their reason and little else. It is not until one comes to the “leap of faith” that they enter into religiousness B (the stage where Abraham was). Here the person a total mystery to the “crowd” because where they are with God is not communicable. Abraham could not directly communicate his spiritual trial to sacrifice Isaac with anyone. This final stage is the stage where the leap comes into play, but SK always reminds the reader that one cannot get to this stage without having gone through religiousness A – where reason is still a dominating force in what one does and believes.
      It should be noted that moving from one stage to the other never annihilates the previous stage, it only dethrones it. In the religiousness B, reason is not demolished, only dethroned. “
      Thank you for clarifying SK’s views! I guess we have come to the point in our discussion about Kierkegaard where I need to read Postscripts myself to confirm your interpretation of his thoughts. “Beastly long” books usually do not turn me off. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your passion!
      “Hence, SK was able to teach his philosophy without an inherent contradiction of using reason to destroy reason. I welcome you to visit my blog: Faith and Reason: What Reason says about Reason. You’ll get a second dip in why reason itself is a “leap of faith” in that reason has no court of higher appeals and must be used despite the fact that one cannot prove its relation to truth. In other words, reason presupposes truth without first demonstrating its “existence.” That is definitionally a “leap of faith” if there ever was one.”
      Already did and left my comment there. Brilliant article! It reminds me of a quote by Kung in the book I am currently reading, where Kung observes:
      “For both Augustine and Pascal, final existential certainty is rooted not in the “cogito” of pure reason but in the “credo” of the biblical message. The radical remedy for skepticism is in the biblical faith guaranteed by the church… for him (Augustine) what is decisive is crede, ut intellegas, “believe in order to know”… For both Augustine and Pascal, it is never a question of an irrational but always rationally justifiable faith; not rationalism, but rationality, not blind, but reasonable, submission… Faith is necessary not only in regard to questions of everyday life… as faith has to do with reason, so reason also has to do with faith”. Indeed, modern or perhaps postmodern philosophy does not acknowledge that it is the heart’s commitments that control the rational life.
      Thank you, Eric, for our fruitful discussion. I hope other people reading it have also found it stimulating and enriching. As it turns out we are in agreement on most issues regarding the interplay of faith and reason. We just approach the subject differently.

      Cheers brother!

      Hope to hear from you more!

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