Book Review- Faith and Reason: Three Views (Spectrum Multiview Books)

Faith and Reason: Three Views

Faith and Reason: Three Views (Spectrum Multiview Books), By Alan G. Padgett, Craig A. Boyd (Author), Carl Raschke (Author), Steve Wilkens (Editor). IVP Academic, 2014, 187 pp. 978-0830840403

Anyone that has been in the apologetic enterprise for any length of time knows that the topic of the relationship between faith and reason is of the utmost importance. Of course, pop atheists and the internet have portrayed faith as blind and irrational and atheism as the beckon of reason. Granted, this has been answered before.

However, that is why a book like  Faith and Reason: Three Views  is an excellent introduction to this topic. The book is a fairly short read (187 pages) and the essays are understandable. I don’t think the book is overly extensive but it is a fine resource for someone who is possibly trying to get a grasp on the various perspectives on faith and reason in Christian thought. The good news is that all three authors (Padgett,  Boyd and Raschke) reject the “autonomous  reason,” which is the haughty human attempt to build a worldview  without recourse to God. All three authors agree that scientism is reductionistic and doesn’t explain the complexity of knowledge and reality.

As far as each author’s positions, Raschke, whose essay is called “Faith and Philosophy in Tension” sides  more with a ‘fideistic/Kierkegaardian’ approach to faith and reason. He thinks because of the Fall of man, reason is fallen and even in the Genesis account, our head representatives failed to have ‘faith’ and instead fell into a rationalization of what God had commanded them to do. Raschke also cites specific texts in the Bible to support his view that faith is above reason. One thing I did find myself agreeing with is that Raschke’s discussion of how the faith and reason divide started way before the Enlightenment period. When the early Christian movement (which was a Jewish sect) split away from its roots, we began to see Hellenization of the Christian faith. The downside is that Raschke doesn’t take into all the relevant texts that deal with the use of faith and reason.

Anyway, Padgett and Boyd tend to part ways with Raschke. Padgett’s essay called “Faith Seeking Understanding” offers a collegial approach. Both theologians and philosophers can be of mutual benefit to one another.  Philosophers can help theologians with clarity and coherence while theologians can help philosophers with teachings and practices of the Christian faith (I assume this equates to ‘practical theology’), pg 115  Padgett rightly says that many philosophers find the Trinity to be ‘incoherent’, pg 107.  Hence, theologians should be reading philosophical theology and how Christian philosophers can help with such an objection.

Boyd’s essay called “The Synthesis of Faith and Reason” is a return to the Thomistic model of faith and reason. For Boyd, reason is unavoidable in all we do and it is unavoidable in assessing revelatory claims. Boyd gives excellent definitions of reason in the following three models:

Reason 1: is the attempt of the human creatures to use science and logic to understand reality as given to our senses and our natural capacity to see inferences and relationships.

Reason 2: is the sinful attempt by human creatures to demands that reality conforms to their prior expectations and limited perspective on reality apart from divine revelation.

Reason 3: is how the human creature comes to understand process and decide how to live one’s life given the multiform ways in which reality can be apprehended and the ways we are shaped by competing narratives.

Boyd goes onto critique Richard Dawkins misunderstanding of the understanding between the sciences and the humanities when Dawkins says:

So where does life come from? What is it? Why are we here? What are we for? What is the meaning of life? There’s a conventional wisdom which says that science has nothing to say about such questions. Well, all I can say is that if science has nothing to say, it’s certain that no other discipline can say anything at all. But in fact, science has a great deal to say about such questions.”-Growing Up In The Universe video series, 1991.

Boyd says:

The fact is science has nothing to say about any of these questions, unless, of course, we equivocate on the meaning of the word science and conflate it with scientism. We can pose an argument against this particular manifestation of scientism in the following way:

1. Science, as such, is not metaphysics

2. But those who practice “scientism” want to make metaphysical claims such as “Science discovers all that there is.

3. But if those who practice “scientism” are going to “so metaphysics,” then they should come out and say that is precisely what they are doing (pgs 142-143).

Overall I learned a lot from all three essays. While I found myself agreeing with certain aspects of the positions of all three authors, I tended to side more with both Padgett and Boyd.  I agree reason is a gift from God and it needs to be sanctified and used for the glory of God.

Finally,

In Mark 12.28-34 we find a scribe asking Jesus a serious question, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus replied by saying, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Jesus then added a second commandment (from Leviticus 19.18) when he said, “The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Here we see the Shema is the central creed for Jesus! Jesus is quoting from Deut. 6:4-9:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

“Shema Israel, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad.” These six words begin the Shema (pronounced “shmah”), three sections of Scripture repeated twice daily to remind each Jewish person of his or her commitment to God (Deuteronomy 6: 4– 9; 11: 13–21; Numbers 15: 37– 41).

In the Tanakh (the acronym that is formed from the first three parts of  the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the  Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings), the Hebrew word for heart is  “leb,” or “lebad.” While the word “heart” is  used as a metaphor to describe the physical organ, from a biblical  standpoint, it is also the center or defining element of the entire  person. It can be seen as the seat of the person’s intellectual, emotional,  affective, and volitional life. In the New Testament, the word “heart”  (Gr.kardia) came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the  rational and the emotional elements. Therefore, biblical faith involves a  commitment of the whole person.

In Jewish thought, in the Shema, hearing is directly related to taking heed and taking action with what you’ve heard. And if you don’t act, you’ve never heard. Hence, in Deut. : 6: 4-9, we see who our God is and how we should respond to him. It should be a holistic commitment towards him. We love our God with our emotions, our actions, our entire beings (including our minds).



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3 thoughts on “Book Review- Faith and Reason: Three Views (Spectrum Multiview Books)

  1. SLIMJIM June 30, 2015 / 9:28 am

    Thanks for this review

    • chab123 July 1, 2015 / 1:31 am

      My pleasure

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