So often the demand is made of the person of faith and the theologian to justify the reasons they hold so tenaciously to ideas and notions which the world sees as futile and foolish. Indeed, at times, we are shocked to discover that sometimes even our friends assume that we are somehow less blessed with reason and intelligence because of our faith in what they consider mere fairy tales. Thus we are challenged by the world around us, and rather often the response of the Christian, as is true of people of other faiths, is to retreat from the limelight of discussion; ashamed of how intelligent people think of them. This canker has so far advanced that even in at the heart of the celebration of ones’ religious life there exists a temerity in proclaiming ones’ faith. This retreat from the kerygma of the Gospel is evinced even in the embarrassment caused by the Resurrection; the central mystery of the Christian faith. No small number of people complain that even at the funeral of a loved one the priest was sheepish in her or his proclamation of the Christian hope that death has been overcome in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. If we hide from this hope then all of our faith is vanity. The pressure on the person caused by modernity is to lie; to live a life of religious privacy and secular publicity. Yet the pressure on the faithful from our sacred scriptures is to proclaim our truth without shame,
“Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:14-16 NRSV).”
Regardless of the negative and condescending opinion of secular modernity, if our faith is so important to us, then we must not live the lie of modernity. If faith is as important to us as reason is then we must not be caught in the trap of holding faith and reason as mutually exclusive. Something held by faith, yet rejected by reason, is an absurdity and rightly reserving of ridicule. Our faith must not therefore be a faith held without reason. When we proclaim, “Christus resurrexit;” that the man Jesus has done what no other human being has done before or since by rising from the grave, then we should mean it and reason through why we mean it. When we say that we believe that this man Jesus is the first-fruits of the dead, and that we shall follow him, then we should believe it and know why we do. Faith does not demand irrational gullibility. We were created in the imago Dei, and therefore even our rational mind is formed in the likeness of the divine. An acceptance of God in the absence of rational consideration is absurdity. Theology is not a mere description of what we hold to be true; it is the unfolding of the rational grounds on which we hold these things to be true.
Truth has consequences. That which we believe and that which we know must not be distinguished; we must know what we believe and know why we believe it so. Once our faith becomes what modernity calls reasonable to us, then this reality must be made present in the world. This is our truth. We cannot proclaim the death of death in the Resurrection and, at the same time, endorse or turn a blind eye to social structures of death. Death must be destroyed daily in our risen lives; not only must this be an active life of conscientious choices, but a proactive mission against injustice.
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