What Are the Roles of Faith and Reason in Christianity? Part 2
by Bill Pratt
In part 1 of this series Philosopher Edward Feser demonstrated that reason, not faith, brings us all the way to the conclusion that Jesus is divine. Once we arrive here, where do we go?
Suppose you know through purely rational arguments that there is a God, that He raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and therefore that Christ really is divine, as He claimed to be, so that anything He taught must be true; in other words, suppose that the general strategy just sketched can be successfully fleshed out.
What would follow? Faith, or belief, enters and takes center stage.
Then it follows that if you are rational you will believe anything Christ taught; indeed, if you are rational you will believe it even if it is something that you could not possibly have come to know in any other way, and even if it is something highly counterintuitive and difficult to understand. For reason will have told you that Christ is infallible, and therefore cannot be wrong in anything He teaches. In short, reason tells you to have faith in what Christ teaches, because He is divine.
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We have faith in Christ and what He teaches because of who He is. Because He proved himself to be divine by resurrecting from the dead, we believe Him. That is faith.
Does every Christian follow the process that Feser describes, reasoning through philosophy and historical evidence to the conclusion that Jesus is divine? Obviously not. Most Christians believe because they have received it on authority from someone else who does understand the arguments.
There may even be more than one link in the chain to get back to someone who understands the arguments, but this hardly matters. What matters is that there are theologians and philosophers and other scholars who do understand the arguments, so even the person who does not understand the reasons for his faith still indirectly bases his faith on those reasons…
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