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A Need for God and Reason

Monday 14 August 2017 at 7:43 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for August 10, 2017, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

Sometimes you can’t help but think the world is still a pretty crazy place to live in, and that we still haven’t advanced too much beyond the nescience and superstition of the Dark Ages, nor have we come to fully accept God as the maker and ruler of the universe.

            I suspect that this is true because the world’s modus operandi has always been to take things to such extremes that the only way to continue is by having a strong reaction against those extremes. The world goes up and down, not continuously straight up. A reaction to lawlessness, for example, is law and order until there’s a reaction of lawlessness again, and so on.

            The Age of Reason (also called the Age of Enlightenment, 1715-1789) appeared to be a time of great change, upward and onward for the better. This is the Age of Diderot, Voltaire, Hume, Newton, to name a few. This is a time in the world’s history of many breakthroughs in science, -- discovery of gravity, of carbon dioxide, steam engines, hot air balloons, etc.

            Newton alone discovered universal gravitation, the three laws of motion, breakthroughs in optics, discovery of the true shape of the earth, etc. He even studied the speed of sound.

            The Dark Ages had been an era of nescient superstition, so the Age of Reason overreacted by believing that MAN was the measure of all things, not GOD. If human beings could discern the secrets of the universe, why does anyone need God? But reason could tell you there is a God, and that science actually proves the fact rather than disproves it.

            The famous German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, tried to reconcile religious belief with rationalism. Extremists, however, didn’t realize that nescient, irrational thinking was not a by-product of God, as the Book of Proverbs would attest to. “A fool’s lips bring him strife” (Proverbs 17:6; “The folly of fools yields folly” (Proverbs 14:24); “A companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20); “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you.” (Proverbs 4:6); “[Wisdom] will set a garland of grace on your head” (Proverbs 4:9). Wisdom, reasoning and science come from God.

            The Era of Romanticism, which followed the Age of Reason, is essentially a reaction against reason, wherein feelings became more important than rational thinking. Not that emotions aren’t important in life, but reason gets the job done. Emotions often cause us to fight one another.

            Yep. A crazy world! No one remembers any more Aristotle’s concept of the Golden Mean.

            Christianity saves man from himself, but Christianity always had a way of going off in too many directions. In Russia, for example, where the controlling religious influence was the Russian Orthodox Church, we see one extreme of making God irrational. Not that the Church promoted it, but they allowed it. And that’s the reverence for the “Holy Fool,” as he or she was called.

            “Holy Fools” would walk down the streets or hover in shelters completely naked, or semi-covered with some bizarre attire, with iron rings on their necks and ankles attached to chains. Some would walk through town as if drunk, shrieking, “Christ is risen!” Apparently the motivation for their behavior was the Apostle Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 4:10, “We are fools for Christ’s sake,” and 1 Corinthians 3:19, “The wisdom of this world is folly with God.”

“Holy Fools” were revered, respected, and sought after for blessings until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. How could such foolish behavior be a Godly thing? The atheism of the Bolsheviks was an extreme reaction against such. But that reaction also tried to make God irrational and unnecessary. The atheists also brought down the good the Church had established.

            We Americans are intelligent beings. We are reasonable homo sapiens, and in God we trust. Why can’t reasonable human beings, with God’s help, resolve issues that are for the good of humankind? Why can’t reasonable humans resolve problems rather than intensify and multiple problems? Why shouldn’t God and reason co-exist for the betterment of humanity?

            I was reared by parents who were very devout Lutherans, but they were also very rational human beings. They believed in God, and they believed in reason. God is love. But God is also reason. I think you have to be careful how you interpret the “foolishness” of God.

            More than ever before in history, the world today needs God. But it also needs reason. They go together.

-0-

Ray Spitzenberger has retired after serving as pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, for 28 years, teaching in high school for 9 years and at Wharton County Junior College for 22 years.

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