Faith and Reason: Are They Compatible?

Speaker: Categories: Oct 09, 1993


[1hr, 19min, 20sec / 27min, 36sec]


There seems to be a frustrating paradox within Christianity. We are to act on faith -- based on reason! Is one of these, faith or reason, of greater value? Do some believers have the gift of faith? Do others have a gift of reason? Spectacular achievements are heralded as triumphs of faith. Are there not, also, triumphs of reason?

Dr. Rice notes, "The relation of reason to faith is one of the oldest and most perplexing questions for Christian thought. It is also one of the most important. A mature religious experience must include both commitment and reason without reducing either to the other. Otherwise," he observes, "a distortion of genuine faith is bound to occur."

He concludes, "Our task, therefore, is to find an alternative both to fideism, the idea that reason has nothing to do with faith, and rationalism, the conviction that reason has everything to do with it." He contends, " . . . reason can contribute in important but limited ways to our understanding of religion. I also maintain that reason can support religious commitment, but never produce it."

What do you think? In your religious experience, what role has faith played? . . . what role reason? The October 9 discussion should be of keen interest to many -- both those of the more traditional and those of the more progressive schools of thought.


Richard Rice is a life-10ng Seventh-day Adventist. His grandparents on both sides were overseas missionaries. He is currently Professor of Theology at La Sierra University, where he began teaching in 1974. A graduate of La Sierra, he holds degrees from the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews (M.Div.) and the University of Chicago Divinity School (M.A., Ph.D.). Before teaching he served for two years as a minister in the Southeastern California Conference. His wife, Gail, is a faculty member at Loma Linda University. His published works include four books. The latest is Reason and the Contours of Faith (La Sierra University Press, 1991). The Openness of God, his book publication of 1980, stirred many to reconsider that the truism, "God knows the end from the beginning" might have some limitations!

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