Is God Reasonable or Logical?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2 Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. 3 And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you.Romans 12:1-3 (TEV)
ANOTHER TEMPTATION is to prefer head-values to heart-values. That should not be the case. Only the heart unifies and integrates. Intellect without a sense of piety tends to divide. The heart unites ideas with reality, time with space, life with death and with eternity. The temptation is to dislodge intellect from the place where God our Lord put it. He gave it to us so that we could clarify faith. God did not create human intelligence so that we could set ourselves up as judges of all things. It is a light that has only been lent to us, a mere reflection. Our intellect is not the light of the world; it is simply a flash for illuminating our faith. The worst thing that can happen is for human beings to let themselves be dragged along by the “lights” of reason. They easily become ignorant intellectuals or carefree “sages.” The true mission of our minds is to discover the seeds of the Word within humanity, the logoi spermatikoi. (1)
On vacation, so a different set of devotions may appear for the next few days. I left my normal devotional book in my office, and so I picked up Pope Francis’s book off my kindle – and came to this passage.
It addresses far more clearly that I something I have long thought.
We’ve somehow disconnect the heart of our faith, preferring the reason of faith. We hear “logos” and reduce it to logic, to human reason, and make the “logos” of God submit to our ability to process it, to analyze it, to dissect it and categorize it.
This despite the numerous passages, scripture that remind us how God’s ways are not ours, how His thoughts are beyond ours.
The result is staggering! Children of the enlightenment, of the age of reason, we consider ourselves judges of everything. We judge manuscripts, ignoring the 99.996 percent consistency, but that gives us the right and authority to judge which texts are to be heeded, and which we can dismiss. On the other edge of the spectrum, we build from scripture a legal system that cares less for mankind, but raises the system we produced to God’s writ. There is no mercy, confession and absolution becomes a duty, not a sacrament (we even consider ourselves lords over the sacrament!)
The struggle is to dismiss the heart, if we cannot create cardio-eunuchs, we are least circumcise our heart until it is smaller than the Grinch’s. We let reason drag our Christianity behind it, as Pope Francis said.
Faith is like loyalty, like volition, a matter of the heart. It is the relationship, both with God and with those who live life in our midst, or we in theirs. Faith is a verb, better translated trust, and the trust we have in God supersedes our knowledge. Just as a young couple in love will not be reasonable in their parent’s eyes when it comes to establishing a home and finances, there are times our trust and love in God will seem unreasonable and even foolish to those around us, and even us. We will dare to love our enemies, we will forgive those whom logic demands eye for an eye. We will sacrifice our desires and preferences in order to see people come to know God’s love, and to love Him in return.
We realize that God has planted, as Solomon wrote, eternity into the hearts of mankind. As Francis wrote – the seeds of the Word. That capitalized Word is not logic, it is not reason as man understands it. It is Jesus Christ, the one who came and suffered and died, and rose from the dead (which of these is “logical” by man’s standard?
Does our intellect have its place? Sure! Can academic theology have its place, a role in helping us understand the love we know? Yes, but it is a servant, not a guardian. It is a tool, not the foreman.
The great commands, and the Great commission bear that out – we are to love, God and our neighbor, we are to make disciples, not converts. We are to proclaim God’s grace, that mercy and peace that is ours because He loves us…. Even though it doesn’t really seem reasonable….
Let us learn well, but let us trust and love the Lord, and may that love govern our reason.
(1) Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (pp. 27-28). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.