Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FATHERS: Faith and Reason


It is good for faith to precede reason, lest we seek reason not only from man but from God our Lord as well. For how unworthy would it be that we should believe human testimonies of another, and yet not believe the utterances of God. (On Abraham, St Ambrose of Milan, ca 374-397 AD)


Ambrose is considered one of the doctors of the western church. He was a highly educated and intellectual person, yet when it comes to his understanding of reason and faith he clearly places the two in positions that would shock most contemporary readers. Ambrose does not allow for human reason to interfere with faith, but rather insists that faith lead reason. He writes, “It is good for faith to precede reason,” because he understands that the faith of which he speaks is rooted in the supernatural God; A God that exceeds our natural abilities and limitations. Therefore, he argues that the substance of faith must first be apprehended and entered into before reason can even hope to catch up. The challenge for us who have placed all of our eggs in the basket of reason, is to enter into the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, and then allow our reason to begin to grasp all of the nuances and details. If we fail to first believe then understand, the Christian faith will remain a closed book.

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