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Role of Reason Within Theology Essay

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Updated: Jul 9th, 2021

Introduction

The search for the truth as one of the aspects of human existence is the subject of not only sociological but also theological sciences and concepts. The notions of spirituality and pragmatism intersect, which leads to the mixing of theories and entails deep discussions of faith, the philosophical background of religion, and other significant issues. Based on the doctrines that are presented by the modern church community, the understanding of the mysteries of faith comes through studying the science of God and the ideas that are considered in the Scripture.

However, in addition to spiritual concepts, the importance of reason is also considered an essential component in theological practice, and rational arguments in support of certain hypotheses are permissible. This work is aimed at determining the significance of reason, the element that contributes to the understanding of the mysteries of faith and its essence.

Reason as One of the Aspects of Doubt

Due to a large amount of information and constantly changing priorities, modern society tends to be more practical than philosophical. Religion has not lost its value; nevertheless, the manifestations of reason are observed in doubts about theological concepts, and the search for the truth has become the integral part of the process of knowledge. According to McGrath, “faith is not the same as certainty,” and the evidence of salvation that people seek to find is due to the natural human desire to learn the unknown (343).

Withal, the denial of the secrets of religion and the complete disregard for theological teachings cannot be considered a positive trend since such a categorical position contradicts the essence of the science of God. Therefore, human reason as one of the aspects of doubts plays an essential role in forming the concept of faith and may be viewed from different standpoints.

The philosophy of rationalism that is closely associated with doubts and the desire to obtain irrefutable evidence is alien to traditional theological doctrines. Reason as the integral component of human existence is not the tool aimed at exposing or reprimanding ecclesiastic concepts. On the contrary, as Pearse argues, even in early teachings, “acquiring divine truth or morality by reason was constitutive of natural religion” (231). The method of understanding the secrets of faith is an attempt to find out but not to expose, to achieve but and not to disprove. Therefore, when applying reason as the instrument of rapprochement with God is not only welcomed but is also a natural condition for people’s interaction with religion.

At the same time, any other manifestation of mental activity, which is based on doubts, alienates skeptics from the notion of spirituality. Therefore, reasonable does not mean controversial, which it is essential to accept as one of the divine truths.

Role of Reason for Theology

Not only reason as an ability to think precedes faith but also thinking itself. In order to follow faith, a rational human being should have any supportive basis. To encourage the will to accept any religion and its truths, reason, first of all, investigates the teachings of the proposed philosophy, draws certain conclusions, and only after that, it accepts the concept itself. As Gordon remarks, for faith to emerge, preaching is necessary, and theology as the science of the divine essence is involved in searching for the substantiations of church teachings (84). Consequently, the concepts of reason and the search for the truth intersect and form a single picture. Theology as a scientific discipline benefits from this fact, interpreting church doctrines from those points of view that are understood by contemporary people.

Thus, the relationships between faith and reason in the context of theology are complementary. Before accepting any truth, a person needs to make sure that they are sound and logical. At the same time, according to Miller, it is essential to trust certain authorities, which are expressed in the Holy Scripture (15). An ability to analyze and comprehend the secrets of the universe opens up broad spiritual perspectives.

Believing in the soundness of truths due to immutable authoritative sources, faith acquires its strength, and new horizons open up for it. The power of theology as a science allows people to avoid any doubts concerning the reliability of religion and prepares their minds to understand the truths that are included in the science of God. In other words, faith is the primary form of the manifestation of spirituality, which is one of the basic theological doctrines.

Conclusion

Reason is the essential component of contemporary theological concepts, which contributes to the understanding of the mysteries of faith and its essence. Due to the rapid development of civilization, humanity faces doubts regarding divine powers and church doctrines. One of the key tasks of theology is to convey to people that not only rational judgments but also faith help to form the comprehensive picture of the world. The role of special authorities described in the Holy Scripture is significant. The religious picture of spirituality provides the relationships between reason and faith, which corresponds to the key theological teachings and allows learning the secrets of the divine principle.

Works Cited

Gordon, J. Dorcas. “Stewarding the Mysteries of Faith: Preaching the Gospel in Twenty-First-Century Canada.” Toronto Journal of Theology, vol. 30, no. 1, 2015, pp. 81-92.

McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology: An Introduction. 6th ed., John Wiley & Sons, 2016.

Miller, Ed L. God and Reason: An Invitation to Philosophical Theology. 2nd ed., Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015.

Pearse, Harry. “Historical Faith and Philosophical Theology: The Case of Thomas White.” Intellectual History Review, vol. 26, no. 2, 2016, pp. 221-243.

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