Monday, October 1, 2007

Dumb Faith and Anselm

Man has been searching for empirical evidence to validate the inner inclination of the existence of God for centuries. Many attempts have been made to create philosophical proofs by those for whom emotions are not enough, I would say the majority of which were constructed post-enlightenment.

I too have longed for such a proof…not necessarily for the benefit of my belief, but for the benefit of my pride. You see, I hate to be wrong. I hate to lose an argument. The one thing that weighs in most heavily on the course of my life, belief, cannot be adequately validated to another.

The first time I read Anselm of Canterbury’s ontological proof for God’s existence, I thought I had struck gold. Now, I see the holes in it, but do realize that it is perhaps the cleverest logical argument for God’s existence. In fact, this Archbishop of the Church is considered by many to be the founder of scholasticism. Anselm loved learning, and sought to please God not only by developing his heart and soul, but also his mind. According to legend, after Anselm finished his proof, he fell in prayer, thanking God for his mental faculties, and that though their exercise he had arrived at a greater understanding of that which he had already believed.

As I sit and ponder what evangelical Christianity has been relegated to…possibly as a result of educated demythologization of the Bible starting with Bultmann and carrying forward into the 20th century as the deconstructionism pervading western higher education instilled doubt not only in the population, but in churchgoers. As this doubt took hold, churches became nearly vacant. All throughout Europe one can see the skeletons of once were churches.

Especially in America, as seen in the fundamentalist movement, a disdain for higher education became apparent. Most often human nature, in my opinion, leads us to react to undesirable situations in a pendulum swing. Equating mass desertion of faith with scholasticism, the church has dumbed itself down. It is apparent in shallow content of modern worship music, in the uneven ratio of practical courses to theology/language courses in seminaries, to the Sunday “self help” sermons, and to the overwhelmingly pragmatic and emotional subjectivity of the mega church and emerging church movements.

It’s a shame, and I am prey to it. But I am encouraged by an ancient saint who realized that his mind, not just his emotive makeup, was created in the imaged of his God, and sought to glorify his God through its development.

2 comments:

Ken said...

I wonder if faith has ever been the product of debate.

Maybe that's just a lazy mind's excuse for failure to study appologetics.

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