Faith and Reason: Faith-ful Reason

little-book-theologians-kapicIn the last few months we have been sampling a small book on theology I recently came across – Kelly Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP Academic, 2012). While the book is “little,” the theology found in it is large, as we have noted before.

As I continue to make my way through this easy but profound read, I just completed chapter 5 titled “Faithful Reason.” In this chapter Kapic tackles that “sticky” subject of the relationship between faith and reason. Philosophers and theologians throughout the history of the church have debated their proper roles in dealing with the major issues involved in true spiritual knowledge.

I appreciate the way Kapic relates the two – “faithful reason” is his understanding of the proper connection between faith and reason. This is how he defines that term and explains it:

I am advocating here an approach that might be called faithful reason. Our approach to God must acknowledge that our reason works properly only when it is full of faith. Reason apart from faith is empty, just as faith without reason can be blind and lead toward idolatry. Faith must precede reflection for true Christian theology to occur. God alone, as he has revealed himself, must be our firm foundation, and in particular, Jesus Christ, as he is made known through the apostles and prophets (1 Cor 3:10-16; Eph.2:20; cf. Lk 24:25-27). [p55]

A little later Kapic adds this:

Faithful reason is chiefly a matter of relating to the triune God in humble dependence on him. We find ourselves faithless when we see only pain and chaos and not the Creator and Redeemer. Yet, according to the Gospels, the only way to see and understand the truth of God is by the power of his Spirit. Not only does the Spirit empower God’s redemptive activities (e.g., Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, Mat 1:18; Rom 8:11), but also it is the Spirit alone who opens the eyes and illuminates the heart to bring understanding (Eph 1:18).

About which he says further:

…the specific point of the Spirit’s revelatory action is to draw people to the Father through the Son. The Spirit leads us into the truth by solidifying the memory of Jesus Christ and drawing people to trust the crucified Lord (Jn 16:13-15; 17:17). The Spirit alone brings a person from the blinding bondage of sin to the freedom of faith and communion with God (cf. Jn 3:5-8; Rom 8:1-16). In this way, the Spirit does not work against reason, but rather the Spirit empowers us, in and through our rational faculties, to acknowledge the truth by redirecting us to the trustworthy God as he has made himself known in his Word [pp.57-58]