Friday, September 21, 2007

Using Your Brain

Sometimes people think that faith doesn’t involve intellect, and you have to leave your brains at the door when you enter a church. While not everything regarding faith can be explained by logic and reason, much of it can (called apologetics).

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, came up with what has come to be called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral for understanding the Bible: the four sides are Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. Tradition refers to the traditional understanding of Scripture as handed down in the apostolic tradition from the Church Fathers. Reason is that it has to make some sort of sense, especially when considering what is said on the subject elsewhere in Scripture. And Experience refers to what we have observed in the world and in our own lives. None of these other three supersedes Scripture, but are used to understand it.

By the way, the Protestant/Wesleyan understanding of Tradition is different from the Roman Catholic understanding. I won’t bore you with the details, but just be aware of it. Also, modern “liberal” scholars and theologians frequently depart from the traditional interpretations of Scripture, and much of what you read in the media reflects these nontraditional understandings.

Having doubts or questioning various aspects of your faith does not necessarily indicate a lack of faith, especially when you have already placed your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior (trusting Jesus for your eternal destiny, in other words). Everybody has some questions and doubts about their faith. We will never know everything and we will never understand everything, as I’ve said before. That’s because we are dealing with God, who is so far beyond us that we just can’t comprehend it all. God tells us thru the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” NRSV

Not completely understanding the Bible or having some questions about faith should not keep you from having a relationship with God. Nor should the behavior of some who do bad things while claiming to be doing God’s will keep you away from God (see a future post on this subject).

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