Faith and Reason
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 9:21am
Someone asked in a post, “Do you believe faith is independent of reason?” I answered thus:
NO — the separation of faith and reason is a myth. You exercise faith EVERY TIME you accept someone else’s word about something, whether it be your doctor, your friend, the newspaper, a politician, or apostles. That is the ESSENCE of faith. But we must always ask, WHY should I accept another person’s word about anything? This is where reason enters. We should never accept someone’s word without adequate evidence–even apostolic testimony. This is the point of 1 Peter 3:15. See Mark 2:1-12–why should Jesus’ audience believe that he is God? His MIRACLE is the rational PROOF of this fact. That is the whole point of miracles.
I will add this: The real contrast is not between faith and reason, but between faith and KNOWLEDGE. The difference lies is HOW a specific idea enters our consciousness. If it enters through reason or experience, we call it “knowledge.” But if it enters through someone else’s testimony, we call it “faith.” Either way, we must use our powers of reason to assess the truth status of the idea. In the case of matters of faith, the whole purpose of apologetics or Christian evidences is to apply the rules of evidence (i.e., reason) to the truth-claims of prophets, apostles, and Christ himself as found in Scripture.
In the Restoration Movement a common definition of faith is “belief in testimony.” That is accurate in regard to the ASSENT element of faith (“believing that” the testimony is true). We should not forget the TRUST element, though (“believing in/on” Jesus the person.)