Alister McGrath: There is a limit to reason
Theologian and apologist Alister McGrath once thought that reason was a stumbling block to faith. But now the former atheist says human reason is limited, and cannot fully grasp the reality of God.
He was addressing more than 3,000 Christians at this year’s Keswick Convention, meeting in the Lake District.
Professor McGrath encouraged the Christians gathered to be bold in proclaiming the Trinity, saying that it gave people a framework for understanding God.
“The Trinity is a way of safeguarding our vision of God… making sure we never sell God short to ourselves or anyone else. In this challenging context in which to present God, we need to present God in all his fullness,” he said.
“The doctrine of the Trinity is this realisation that God is just so great, we are never going to fully able to make sense of him, even though we can trust him.”
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Professor McGrath, head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King’s College London, was the first guest speaker to address this year’s convention.
He insisted that the Trinity and the Christian faith were not “irrational” and that believers need not be afraid of atheists and other critics.
“I [once] thought, this doctrine is just clearly bad mathematics, it’s just nonsense. You can only trust what reason can prove. That seemed to me at the time to be a good argument against the doctrine of the Trinity. But, we need to realise there are limits to what reason can take in,” he said.
“Sometimes things are so big and bright and luminous that we can’t take them in. Richard Dawkins limits reality to what we can prove. That is a terribly small and very uninteresting world. You can prove that two and two make four, but that doesn’t give you a reason to get up in the morning, to live and to hope…
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