Critical Christianity

Recently I have been struck by the number of non-thinking Christians. Christianity is not simply a cultural affiliation for those raised in the Western Tradition. It is a distinctive Weltanschaaung with non-trivial implications. The problem with compartmentalized Christians is that their faith and their thinking are seen as two separate affairs which negatively affects both their faith and their thinking. Their faith is naive, and their thinking is deficient. While I agree that the foundational truths of Christianity (i.e. those necessary for salvation) are understandable to 13 year olds, I also believe that faith and reason are not incompatible, and furthermore that worshiping God with our minds is actually a command, and thus not an optional extra.

This is expressed so wonderfully in Bethlehem Seminary’s Core Values:

“If God has inspired a Book as the foundation of the Christian faith, there is a massive impulse unleashed in the world to teach people how to read. And if God ordained for some of that precious, God-breathed Book to be hard to understand, then God also unleashed an impulse to teach people how to think about what they read—how to read hard things and understand them, and how to use the mind in a rigorous way. Therefore, we endeavor in all of our intellectual inquiry to love God with our minds by thinking deeply and humbly about his word and his works.”

Tim Keller provides a great example of this in his discussion on ““Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople” (PDF) where he asks “How do we correlate the data of science with the teaching of Scripture?”  Also watch the debate between Professor Richard Dawkins and the Archbishop Rowan Williams on “The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin.” If Christianity is such a big part of your life, why haven’t you thought about it at least as much as all the other areas?

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