Friday, October 2, 2009

The Sacred and Secular Faith

Religion exists because we define and distinguish between the sacred and secular. But, what if everything is seen as sacred, if used in the proper way? Isn't this view looking at life as graced?

Why do the religious have to make distinctions? Is it because the religious love to think they are especially special? Ot that their group is more holy or 'true" to Christian faith than another? Are these distinctions because this is how every group defines contrast to another group?

Why do the religious need to feel special? Is it because they were never special in their families of origin? Is it because this is what they have always been taught and have always believed?

I think that evangelical faith is taught and caught, but it is mainly emotionally driven and experienctially focused. There is no real substance to evangelical faith. And evangelicals believe that this is good, because reason is suspect.

I remember taking a course 10 years ago. The professor was teaching on "biblical Chsitianity" and I remember wondering why he added "biblical" to Christian, as if there was any other kind of Christian.

This course set "secular philosophy" over against "biblical revelation". Tertullion's "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem" was the 'battle cry of this course. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church", etc. This view sacralizes sacrifice, and marginalizes philosophy.

This view sets up a dichotomy to faith and reason. This is supernaturalism's strength and many denominations believe in this type of 'Christian faith'.

Another view is that nature itself is graced. This view does not see human nature as totally depraved and in need of supernatural rescue, but a deprivation of nature that needs nurture and grace. One is a Reformed Protestant view, while the other is a more Catholic view.

As I have been thinking about faith and reason, I have come to the conclusion that there can be no universal way that an individual develops faith. But, I think that if one comes to faith through personal experience, where revelation was of primary importance, then there is need for a develpment of reaon's need of development. Reason can be the friend of faith, because it is grounded in the "real world".

Students that come to our university can sometimes be idealistic and think that there is something "more" special about a radical faith that is separated from the 'real world" or separated from rationale or reason. This is where I believe that professors and mentors can help these young adults to understand their faith in a broader way. This is important, otherwise, some may never develop their unique gifts and much would be lost to the world.

Evangelicals can be prime culprits of this kind of thinking because evangelicalism is grounded in experience and revelation, at the expense of reason and traditon.

I think the answer is understanding how reason can be grounded in the real world and be faithful to faith, is found in our form of government, a Representative Republic. And this grounding allows faith individual expression and conscience, while the proper use of power is balanced across three branches of government. The individual has a choice or voice in the process of their representation. Otherwise, one is determined under a "Sovereign" supernaturalistic, super-intending God, without personal choice. And choice is of primary importance in the theme of 'freedom'. And freedom is what justice is about.

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