Faith and/or Reason
"Faith and Reason: Friends or Foes?" (Probe Ministries: 1998).
Contemporary theologians who deny the rationality of Christian belief often quote Tertullian's statement that the crucifixion should be believed because it is absurd. He also said the fact of the Resurrection is certain because it is impossible. But these statements must be understood from the context of Tertullian's own life and work. He himself utilized elements of Greek philosophy and logic that he believed to be compatible with Christian belief. The major emphasis in his writings was to contrast the coherence of Christianity with the inconsistency of his heretical opponents. When he does speak of the absurdity of Christian belief, he is actually referring to the unlikelihood that any human mind could conceive of God's redemptive plan. Like C. S. Lewis, he was convinced of the truth of the gospel by the very fact that no human being could possibly concoct such a story as is presented in Scripture. Certainly the Jews could not; the claim of Christ that He was God in the flesh was blasphemous to many of them. Nor could the Greeks create such a story; for them, the material world was inferior to the divine realm. God could not possibly assume human flesh in their philosophical reasoning. But for Tertullian, this was compelling evidence that the gospel is true! The religious and philosophical systems contemporary with the advent of Christianity would have prevented any human from simply making up such a fantastic tale. He concluded that the gospel had to originate in the mind of God himself.
The Last Word (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 4.
How is it possible that creatures like ourselves, supplied with the contingent capacities of a biological species whose very existence appears to be radically accidental, should have access to universally valid methods of objective thought? It is because this question seems unanswerable that sophisticated forms of subjectivism keep appearing in the philosophical literature...
Love God With All Your Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), p. 111.
Unfortunately, I have seen too many Christian thinkers who have a certain texture or posture in life that gives the impression that they are far more concerned with assuring their academic colleagues that they are not ignorant fundamentalists than they are with pleasing God and serving His people. Such thinkers often give up too much intellectual real estate far too readily to secular or other perspectives inimical to the Christian faith. This is why many average Christian folk are suspicious of the mind today. All too often, they have seen intellectual growth in Christian academics lead to a cynical posture unfaithful to the spirit of the Christian way. Fidelity to God and His cause is the core commitment of a growing Christian mind.
J.P. Moreland on Faith said...
Love God With All Your Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), p. 37.
Throughout church history, theologians have expressed three different aspects of biblical faith: notitia (knowledge), fiducia (trust), and assensus (assent). Notitia refers to the data or doctrinal content of the Christian faith. Assensus denotes the assent of the intellect to the truth of the content of Christian teaching. Note that each of these aspects of faith requires a careful exercise of reason, both in understanding what the teachings of Christianity are and in judging their truthfulness. In this way, reason is indispensable for the third aspect of faith — ducia — which captures the personal application or trust involved in faith, an act that primarily involves the will but includes the affection and intellect too.
Reasonable Faith (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994)
But the fact that Christianity can only be shown to be probably true need not be troubling when two things are kept in mind: first, that we attain no more than probability with respect to almost everything we infer...without detriment to the depth of our conviction and that even our non-inferred, basic beliefs may not be held with any sort of absolute certainty...; and second, that even if we can only show Christianity to be probably true, nevertheless we can on the basis of the Spirit's witness know Christianity to be true with a deep assurance that far outstrips what the evidence in our particular situation might support (think analogously of the person convinced of his innocence even though all the evidence stands against him). To demand logically demonstrative proofs as a pre-condition for making a religious commitment is therefore just being unreasonable.
Reasonable Faith (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994)
Moreover, it's not just Christian scholars and pastors who need to be intellectually engaged with the issues. Christian laymen, too, need to be intellectually engaged. Our churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral. As Christians, their minds are going to waste. One result of this is an immature, superficial faith. People who simply ride the roller coaster of emotional experience are cheating themselves out of a deeper and richer Christian faith by neglecting the intellectual side of that faith. They know little of the riches of deep understanding of Christian truth, of the confidence inspired by the discovery that one's faith is logical and fits the facts of experience, of the stability brought to one's life by the conviction that one's faith is objectively true.
William Lane Craig on Atheism said...
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p.37.
The Bible says all men are without excuse. Even those who are given no good reason to believe and many persuasive reasons to disbelieve have no excuse, because the ultimate reason they do not believe is that they have deliberately rejected God's Holy Spirit.
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Eerdmans: 1994), pp. 3-4.
The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. Despite dynamic success at a popular level, modern American evangelicals have failed notably in sustaining serious intellectual life. They have nourished millions of believers in the simple verities of the gospel but have largely abandoned the university, the arts, and other realms of "high" culture... The historical situation is... curious. Modern evangelicals are the spiritual descendants of leaders and movements distinguished by probing, creative, fruitful attention to the mind.
"A Philosopher's Religious Faith", in A Second Look in the Rearview Mirror (Macmillan, April 1994)
I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers, that imposes upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition.
The Ragamuffin Gospel, (Questar Publishers, 1993), 54.
The scribes were treated with excessive deference in Jewish society because of their education and learning. Everyone honored them because of their wisdom and intelligence. The "mere children" (napioi in Greek, really meaning babes) were Jesus' image for the uneducated and ignorant. He is saying that the gospel of grace has been disclose to and grasped by the uneducated and ignorant instead of the learned and wise. For this Jesus thanks God.