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PRESSING TOWARD THE LIGHT
by Morris Inch
11/20/13
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PRESSING TOWARD THE LIGHT

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The faith experience has for me been less like a leap in the dark than pressing toward the light. Consequently, I recently authored Reasoning Faith. Published by E-Book Time, it is available in both print and e-book format. This article consists of select quotes and brief commentary.

"Not to be overlooked, an author constitutes a prime feature to better understand his or her project. With this in mind, the initial chapter is autobiographical. Moreover, it recalls the saying,’"A text without its context is a pretext’" (p. 8).

We were not a church going family. Mother early on supervised my prayer time before I retired. It seemed more likely to me that God existed than not, but I lacked genuine confidence.

Converted while serving in the military during World War II, after which I studied for the ministry. Having served as a pastor on two occasion, I became engaged in Christian higher education. This seemed to me to be an extension of my pastoral calling. Recalling an instance when one of my students observed, "You teach like a preacher." He appeared to have in mind that I was given to exhortation.

"This is the first of several biblical studies meant to explore the dynamic of reasoning faith. The text succinctly announces in the beginning (cf. Gen. 1:1). Otherwise expressed, this appears to be a reference to the time of the gods, as cited in extra-biblical literature. Only in this instance the Lord God appears in solitary splendor, apart from the proliferation of other deities" (p. 29).

The prime analogy is that of a potter. As such, God brings order out of chaos. Only to have order threatened by human caprice. Which would suggest that the extended narrative was meant to describe not only how things came into existence, but why they are as we now experience them. Accordingly, it serves as a reality check.

"‘When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have put in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that care for him?’ (Psa. 8:3-4). I alluded some years ago to this as the perennial question. As such, it is one that continues to arrest our attention and be the cause for continued reflection" (p. 47).

Much is at stake in the inquiry. To know God as he is, provides a key to humans created in his image. After exploring this topic at some length, I concluded: "Jesus is our vanguard. All else is dated and inhibiting. He leads us from the confines of parochial security to a land of promise. We follow not with fear but faith" (p. 63).

"As alerted at the outset, there follows several representative appeals for reasoning faith. The first concerns Justin, acknowledged by Tertullian as a philosopher and martyr, or by Hippolytus simply as the martyr. In any case, thought to be one of the most outstanding of the early Christian apologists" (p. 101).

As a pertinent aside, I reflected on David Myers provocative account of the mystery of the ordinary. "At the core of the religious impulse is a sense of awe, an attitude of bewilderment, a feeling that reality is more amazing than everyday scientific reasoning can comprehend. Wonderstruck, we humbly acknowledge our limits and accept that which we cannot explain" ("The Mystery of the Ordinary," Psychology of Religion—Malony, ed., p. 407.) Human life, so ordinary, so familiar, and yet extraordinary.

Justin provides a detailed account of his search for truth. One that was given to philosophical inquiry. One that led him to feel wise in his own conceit, but no less stupid. One that eventually led him to repudiate idolatry and embrace the Living Lord. In conclusion, he allows that since he had urged persons by reason and observable evidence, to the best of his ability, he considers himself blameless this regard. And so he perished, as a Christian martyr.

Augustine provides another case in point. "Thanks to his rare combination of speculative power, erudition, and literary eloquence, Aurelius Augustine (354-430) occupies a place of unique eminence in the history of patristic apologetics. He gave new precision to the distinctions between authority and reason, faith and understanding, which have remained classic since his time" (Avery Dulles, A History of Apologetics, pp. 59-60).

"These thing are clear," he confidently affirms on one occasion: "(1) physical things are perceived by a bodily sense; (2) this bodily sense cannot perceive itself; (3) there is an inner sense that can and does perceive the bodily sense and the fact that physical things are perceived by a bodily sense; (4) reason, thus, make sense perceptions known, and it makes reason itself known, and together this is knowledge" (Freedom of the Will, II, 4, 10).

"We next explore alternative systems that accommodate a reasoning faith." As explored by Bernard Ramm in Varieties of Christian Apologetics. "In this regard, he touches on systems that stress subjective immediacy, natural theology, and revelation" (p. 143).

As an example of the last of these alternatives, "The Christian may appeal to the well-ordered divine providence, to the heavenly character of the Scriptural doctrines, to the agreements of the parts of Scriptures to one another, to the antiquity of Scripture, to the remarkable preservation of the Scripture, to miracles, to prophecy, to the unbroken witness of the church to Scripture, and to the attestation of the blood of the martyrs" (Ramm, op. cit., p. 175).

Having engaged in teaching apologetics for an extended time, it is not surprising that it appears with some regularity in my writing. However, two texts especially come to mind: The Case For Christianity and Pain As a Means of Grace. The former is more comprehensive, while the latter deals with one of the more critical issues. So that a chapter is devoted to these resources under the title Past As Prologue.

"Quotations have played a prominent role in passing on wisdom from one generation to the next. In an economical manner, especially suited to this purpose. The topic of reasoning faith being no exception" (p. 179).

If from Scripture, "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice" (Heb. 11:17). Although God had promised that his offspring would be reckoned through Isaac. "Abraham reasoned that God would raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac from death." If from the church fathers, "Do not think that we say that these things are only to be received by faith, but also that they are to be asserted by reason. For indeed it is not safe to commit these things to bare faith without reason, since assuredly truth cannot be without reason" (Recognitions of Clement, Book II, LXIX). If miscellaneous, "The great act of faith is when a man decides that he is not God" (Oliver Wendell Holmes).

"The bottom line is a graphic way of referring to certain critical aspects of our exploration. Lest they be obscured in the detailed discussion. In a manner of speaking, failing to see impressive trees in the forest" (p. 195). Accordingly, the final chapter serves to identify several of these critical features. While bringing to mind the advice of my homiletics professor, "When you are finished, stop."



If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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