Reason and Faith

Ever since I started reading CS Lewis, I’ve been interested in reading some of the figures who influenced him. One of these was English journalist (among other things) GK Chesterton (1874-1936).

Another favorite author of mine, Ravi Zacharias, often quotes Chesterton (right) so with this in mind, I sought to obtain a copy of what appears to be Chesterton’s seminal work , Orthodoxy.

The book was been quite enjoyable to this point (don’t expect this to change) and I can see a lot of Lewis in the writing (I know it’s the other way around).

In chapter 3 (“The Suicide of Though”) Chesterton points out the following,

Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.

If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, “Why should anything go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?”

Sounds reasonable doesn’t it?

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Ravi Zacharias succinctly contrasts Christianity and Islam

I’m thoroughly enjoying Ravi’s 2000 book, Jesus Among Other Gods. The man has a way with words without being verbose and thus inhibiting the presentation of the Gospel.

While a post a day quoting a great insight from this book is doable, I’ll try to contain myself.

Before I cite the words relevant to the title of this post, I sense the urgency to quote Ravi’s words from a few pages earlier,

Jesus’ kingdom was of such nature that it was not procured by military might or power. Its rule is neither territorial nor political. If history has proven anything, it is that the spread of the gospel by the sword or by coercion has done nothing but misrepresent the message and bring disrepute to the gospel.

Now to the main quotation,

The teaching of Jesus is clear. No one ought to be compelled to become a Christian. This sets the Christian faith drastically apart from Islam. In no country where the Christian faith is the faith of the majority is it illegal to propagate another faith. There is no country in the world that I know of where the renunciation of one’s Christian faith puts one in danger of being hunted down by the powers of the state.

Yet, there are numerous Islamic countries where it is against the law to publicly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and where a Muslim who renounces his or her belief in Islam to believe in anything else risks death. Freedom to critique the text of the Koran and the person of Mohammed are prohibited by the laws of blasphemy, and the result is torturous punishment.

One must respect the concern of a culture to protect what it deems sacred, but to compel a belief in Jesus Christ is foreign to the gospel, and that is a vital difference. The contrast is all too clear.

American Puritanism and Eliot Spitzer

From the pen of Tom Clancy,

The dollar was already falling… In Europe, traders on their way home heard their cellular phones start beeping to call them back. Something unexpected was afoot. Analysts wondered if it had anything to do with the developing sex scandal within the American government. Europeans always wondered at the American fixation with the sexual dalliances of politicians. It was foolish, puritanical, and irrational, but it was real to the American political scene, and that made it a relevant factor in how they handled American securities. — From Debt of Honor, emphasis mine

Thought this relevant in light of the revelations emanating from the state of New York earlier this week. I have a European co-worker who more or less agrees with Clancy’s take.

To a lesser degree, my admiration for Pres. Bill Clinton was not stifled when the Lewinsky scandal broke, but in fact it grew. My “reasoning” had to do with what I, in my darkened understanding, perceived his dalliance with a woman half his age as a sign of the man’s virility. I wholeheartedly agreed (past tense) with comedian Chris Rock in thinking that it was all Hillary’s fault. As the ever witty Rock commented,

A man is only as faithful as his options

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Ravi Zacharias on Postmodernism

This is taken from Ravi’s book, “Jesus Among Other Gods”,

Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true.

Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do no claim that it is a “better” way.

Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.

If a spiritual idea is eastern, it is granted critical immunity; if western, it is thoroughly criticized. Thus, a journalist can walk into a church and mock its carryings on, but he or she dare not do the same if the ceremony is from the eastern fold. Such is the mood at the end of the twentieth century.

A mood can be a dangerous state of mind, because it can crush reason under the weight of feeling. But that is precisely what I believe postmodernism best represents–a mood.

Thoughts?

Books to Read

The “inspiration” for this post came from a comment made by j razz over at his blog (Blogged Down World).

It can be truly said that the wife and I are bibliophiles. We’ve gotten to the point where we buy more books than we have time to read and as a result the queue is getting increasingly long.

For what it’s worth, here’s the list of books that are sitting on my shelf (or numerous other places throughout our home) and which I know that God willing I will finish at some point in the future:

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