In the past, I’ve blogged on what I call “reasonable Christianity” (although those discourses are, for better or worse, gone due to some inexplicable circumstances – perhaps an act of God for the poor writing?), and for the most part, I’ve taken for granted what exactly I meant by the term. It should be fairly clear that I’m talking about a formulation of the Christian faith, but the part that is of course not so evident is what I might mean by ‘reasonable.’ So, before I begin to spell out what my own personal thoughts are on “reasonable belief,” let me begin by questioning my assumptions and laying all my cards out on the proverbial table.
If I had to set out one criterion – only one – for a ‘reasonable faith,’ it would be relevance. My previous musings on this matter were actually written under the title “Relevant Christianity,” so that much was apparent from the start. However, this is multi-faceted and needs even further explanation.
When I talk about relevance, the first admission to make is that it is inexplicably culture-dependent. That is, what is relevant to one culture (or even subculture) may not be relevant to another. Therefore, a relevant faith is culturally minded and attempts to ask the questions that a specific culture – and generation – is asking. This will change, so such a faith must also be adaptable.
Besides being in touch with the surrounding culture, one should strive to be knowledgable about the sorts of issues that surround the “big questions” of a culture. If the culture is looking for answers in regards to origins, appeals to Genesis won’t work. The Genesis account is, in its traditionally literal form (Augustine notwithstanding), seen as antiquated and out of touch with modern cosmology – which is true. In the current culture, science is the language of the “movers and shakers,” and relevance requires that we speak the language. (Of course, as members of society, we should try to do this anyway, but sometimes examining one’s faith is a good way of focusing.)
There are several virtues a reasonable faith should have as well: honesty, humility, and charity. One ought always to be honest with themselves and others – especially those who question their conclusions – if any fair inquiry is to be made about reality. One should always consider that human knowledge is inevitably fallible, and so haughtiness and arrogance have no place when questioning others’ beliefs. Finally, one ought to extend a fair amount of charity to anyone else who is seeking answers.
With that in mind, I will be talking about several issues on both sides of the debate, Christian and otherwise. I will be looking at the relationship between religion and science in a subsequent post, as well as some claims made by the so-called “Anti-Religion Movement” that deserve consideration when talking about the subject of reasonable faith. In addition, I will underscore some tenets that I think bring us to a better understanding of what it means to be rational. My first hope is that the ensuing entries will help me focus my own beliefs, but it will hopefully be useful for others to look at their own as well.