"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Apologetics Syllogism

Posted in Theological by matt on Monday, June 23, 2008

Consider this simple syllogism:

Major premise: Faith will ultimately require an individual to believe something that cannot be proven through reason.

Minor premise: Apologetics is a branch of theology concerned with the proof of Christianity through reason (particularly Thomistic apologetics).

Conclusion: Faith and apologetics are, on some level, at odds.

I’ve been thinking about this and would greatly appreciate any constructive feedback.

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8 Responses

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  1. jkwakefield said, on Monday, June 23, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Yes, they are sometimes at odds, but sometimes not! I tend to see it as: reasoning takes you to the edge of the cliff and faith is the leap from that edge. Just as in dating you’ll never “for sure” know if someone is the right person to marry; marriage is also a leap of faith.

    One of my quotes on FB is “There is only one proof – that of faith. It is impossible for a person to hold back his conviction and push ahead with reasons.” Guess who wrote those words :)

    Also, what if you replaced the word “believe” in your major premise with the word “accept” or some other word? Does that change the path to the conclusion?

    Perhaps faith could be reasonable but not proven reasonable. Does that last sentence even make sense? I’m talking to myself.

  2. matt said, on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Over 9000 miles away and you still crack me up. Not sure about the word change. Probably because I’m not sure of the difference between ‘accept’ and ‘believe’, particularly in this context.

    Ahhh Søren…gotta love him. I still haven’t read “Provocations”. It’s on my list.

    Thanks for the thoughts dude. I definitely agree about the cliff-approach metaphor.

    I guess I just get frustrated with the idea that faith and reason aren’t really that distinguishable. It’s a good reminder that there IS a cliff and reason has is uses and its limits.

  3. Mark W said, on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Bethany, forwarded me your mail. Hope your having a faith stretching beyond reason kind of summer. Praying for you, Aunt Lee Ann sends her love, by the way, the thought above, major , minor, and conclusion, if the premises are wrong you can be sure the conclusion is off based. Faith goes beyond reason, but does not leave reason out of the equation, Sociology Prof at FSU worked hard to convince me that faith only belongs in the realm of theory and such and cannot be proven etc. Bascially the idea is don’t let your faith interact with the real world, but oh contrare, our faith directly intersects with the real world, and yes virgina there is such a thing as truth, maybe not Santa Clauss, but yes truth, and truth is abslolute so apologetics is definately not at odds with faith, anyhow have a great one, just saw Amy, and Luke they are at Summer Camp, Bethany working hard at the YMCA, John and Christy enjoying being kids, God’s best to you, Uncle Mark

  4. Anonymous said, on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Major premise: Faith will require an individual to act on something that is not fully grounded in pure reason.

    Minor premise: Apologetics is a branch of theology concerned with giving reasonable grounds to act within the Christian worldview.

    Conclusion: The apologist points to the gate and tells you why he chooses goes through. You then get to decide whether or not to act on that.

    Tangent: Since God predestines everything, apologetics and faith are both futile. Luther pwns noobs.

  5. benjamite said, on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    The above anonymous… that’d be me. My bad.

  6. emilyfischer said, on Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 12:53 am

    this might not have anything to do with anything..but you said you’re frustrated with the idea that faith and reason aren’t really that distinguishable. to me, they seem to be quite opposite. faith seems to be what comes into play when reason fails (or to put it nicely, can take you no further). i’m assuming that you could replace ‘reason’ with ‘logic’ in which case i would say that, especially in religion, faith makes leaps that logic sometimes can’t make (virgin birth, trinity, fully man fully god, etc). i suppose that for me, i see such a stark difference because i’ve never had trouble with the ‘reason’ part..its the ‘faith’ part that trips me up. in my mind, they are quite separate.

  7. matt said, on Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 4:46 am

    Re Ben:

    I like the rewording. Both you and Jk worded it better, lol. I hate you both.

    Re Emily:

    We’re on the same page. I was trying to communicate my frustration with that idea, but I don’t buy into it. In my mind they’re also quite separate, though I do think they interact.

    Once a person has come to grips with reason’s limitations he or she can either continue living within those limitations or they can choose to move beyond that into the realm of faith. Entry into this realm has already been alluded to with Jk’s “cliff” metaphor and Ben’s “gate” metaphor.

    Good stuff. This is fun!

  8. Dad said, on Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Major Premise: young minds who think about faith are reason are stinking amazing.
    Minor Premise: you are thinking about faith and reason
    Conclusion: you are amazing!

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