Monday, March 07, 2016

Pascal, Reason and Religion (Romans 12:1)

"The last function of reason is to recognize that there are an infinity of things which surpass it" (Blaise Pascal).

That being said, it must be pointed out that reason plays a significant role in Christianity. We cannot fully understand God's infinite existence; we don't fully comprehend how God has always been, without beginning (his a se esse). On the other hand, should we hold views that blatantly contradict reason and scripture?

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the compassions of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your intelligent service" (Romans 12:1 DBT).

τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν could be translated "spiritual worship" (ESV), "reasonable service" (KJV, NET) or "logical service" (Aramaic Bible in Plain English).

Regardless of the translational approach to Romans 12:1, most religions agree that reason has a place in one's belief system. The question is just to what degree we should let reason influence our worship to God. Hence, we see widely divergent approaches in the Western and Eastern churches with the latter favoring a mystical approach over a more rational one.

While we need to exercise due humility before Jehovah (YHWH) and walk modestly in his sight, let us not excuse contradictory thinking or illogical reasoning by seeking refuge in divine mysteries. The Bible speaks of "mysteries" (Revelation 10:7 KJV) in the sense that we cannot know certain things until God reveals them in his proper time. But Jehovah does not contravene reason or disclose himself or his purpose in a confused or incoherent manner. Therefore, while reason will always be surpassed by an "infinity of things," those things which transcend or excel reason must never contravene it (i.e., must never go contrary to reason).

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