Staff Editorial: faith and reason necessary to the Christian life

Faith and reason are essential for a healthy intellectual life despite a Los Angeles Times study that argues otherwise.

Chimes Staff and Chimes Staff

Many of us have had the experience of trying to think more deeply about our faith, and examine it more closely, only to stumble upon the difficulties that reside at the fringe of faith and reason. Sometimes it’s easier not to delve into the hard questions of faith, and we can be tempted to lapse into a Christianity that is purely emotional, or behavioral, or even just nominal. As Christians, though, we need to be willing to analyze the claims of Scripture and expect to be blown away by God’s majesty in the process. The more we think about the Bible, the more we should be amazed by God’s power — but sometimes, our thinking can lead us to doubt instead. Why does this happen?

The Los Angeles Times recently published an article that reported the results of a survey suggesting that analytical thought might decrease a person’s proclivity to faith. Among those surveyed, those who thought more analytically reported having less faith in the supernatural than those who thought less analytically. The survey contrasts analytic thinking with the “gut feelings,” and suggests those who think harder are less inclined to be religious.

While it makes sense that highly rational people would be less inclined to hold irrational beliefs, it also seems like someone who values truth and intelligence should be drawn to the knowledge of the true God. Augustine serves as a paradigm example of a man whose intelligence led him not to the rejection of religion, but to a passionate pursuit of truth, which he found in Scripture.

Faith and reason still an important element in Christianity

Since opening in 1908 as the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Biola has held unswervingly to this ideal of pursuing God as real truth. Biola’s rich Christian intellectual history has included requiring Bible classes as part of a liberal arts education, being home to the nation’s only Christian great books program, and now hosting the monumental Center for Christian Thought.

Why is this public synthesis of faith and reason so unusual today? It seems like there is a widespread assumption that faith and reason are incompatible, or at least an unnatural pair. More and more, reason is glorified and faith is disparaged. At Biola, we recognize that the dichotomy between the two is forced — that they actually belong together as a part of any healthy intellectual life. We affirm, alongside two millennia of faithful Christian intellectuals, the essential, if complex, marriage of the two. We hope that others will follow.

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