News From The Middle

I was reading my e-mail I get from Associated Baptist Press News and read an article about the inauguration of John Lilley as Baylor University’s 13th president:

“It is sometimes said — and it is sometimes the case — that faith and reason are at war,” said keynote speaker Jon Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek magazine.

But in an age gripped by political and religious extremism, secularists and religionists alike should heed the Apostle Paul’s admonition to “put [a]way childish things” such as the conflict between belief and doubt, religion and science, and faith and reason, said Meacham, author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation.

“We must begin to think of the life of the mind and the life of the soul not as enemies, but as two wings that enable all of us to rise above a fallen world,” said Meacham, an Episcopal layman.

Weather we call it faith/reason, secularist/religionist, life of the mind/life of the soul we are comparing flesh and spirit. And they will always be in conflict. As the Apostle Paul wrote: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. –Galatians 5:17

A second comment is the hazard of taking a verse out of context, the verse referred to is 1 Corinthians 13:11 and is referring to the use of the gifts of the spirit and how they are in use now but will not be needed in the future (see Guzik, David. ”Study Guide for 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.” Blue Letter Bible. 1 Mar 1996. 25 Apr 2006.)

Both science and faith are — in some sense — about making the invisible and mysterious understandable, and that shared goal of both secular rationalists and people of faith offers the potential for peace, he asserted.

“In our country and in our time, I believe it is on the common ground of curiosity and civility and charity and humility that faith between faith and reason is possible,” he said.

Voices of moderation must make themselves heard, or they will be drowned out by the clamor of extremists, Meacham warned. “Extremes make the journey more perilous, and ours is, sadly, an age of extremism,” he said, adding that moderates have a sacred duty to present the “sensible center” in public discourse.

Humility and a sense of history offer Americans a way to find peace in the midst of culture wars, Meacham said, stressing religion can be a force for unity rather than division in the world.

“Reverence for one’s own tradition is not incompatible with respect for the traditions of anyone else,” he said.
I agree with this completely but respect does not equate with acceptance

The “American gospel” — the good news about the United States — is that “religion shapes the nation without strangling it, and life is best lived when Athens and Jerusalem are not at war, but in alliance,” he said, adding religion and ethical secularism have been steadfast allies in many human advances.

America’s founders created a landmark of statecraft by creating a system that checked the rise of extremism and protected personal religious liberty, Meacham said. “Dedicated Christians should be among the fiercest defenders of liberty of mind and heart.”

Faithful Christians who present their views in the public square should make their arguments on the basis of reason and not revelation alone, he asserted. People of faith should humbly recognize their interpretation of God’s revelation is not infallible and they see “through a glass darkly,” as the Apostle Paul said.

“We live in twilight and in hope more than in clarity and certainty. This is why the gift of reason is so essential,” Meacham said. “Light can neither enter into nor emanate from a closed mind.”

A few more thoughts:
1. The Law says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Weather extreme or not they have their rights just as anyone. If you don’t agree, turn the page/channel.
2. Jerusalem and Athens are not the problem. Yes it is better to live life in peace, but not at sacrifice of truth. (The problem is more Jerusalem/Baghdad).
3. Revelation precedes reason: I may not understand all the Bible says, but what is says is true so I follow. Not blindly but trusting God. However I would use reason and never do anything to harm others or myself.

In the final analysis, as far as I can see it is not about being in the moderate, or in the “middle of the road” (That is where you will get run over by a car”, but in the love of Christ show people what is right and wrong, stand on the fundamental truths of the Bible because what is worse: hurting there feelings now or going to Hell later?

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