Commentary

Faith and reason in conversation

Uncle Halvor wants to know what to do with “this here da Vinci Code thing.”

As he plunked himself down in his favorite pew at the No Place Cafe, my Uncle Halvor Knudson had some pointed words of greeting for me.

“I see where this Bill Moyers guy is doing some programs on ‘Faith and Reason’ on that public TV station there in the cities.”

“Yes, I read about that too,” I responded. “He’s not afraid to take on some controversial issues.”

“Well, I got this neighbor of mine, Ole Aasgaard, who loves to argue religion every chance he gets. He knows I go to Bleak Valley Lutheran here in town so he figures that makes me an open target to be shot down every time we meet.”

“There are people like that. What have you two old geezers been arguing about now?”

“Well, dontcha know, Ole, he went to see that ‘da Vinci Code’ movie and was telling me there is no way Jesus could be both true God and true man. Ole says he was only a man and even fathered a child by Mary Magdalene. You ever heard such nonsense?”

“It’s certainly not biblical,” I assured Halvor. “Both the book and the movie about it are simply a made-up story with no biblical truth behind it at all! People who know their Bible will recognize that and not let it disturb them.”

“But that isn’t the way Ole sees it. He wants to put the Bible under a microscope and says when you do you pretty quick find out that there are a lot of things in the Bible you can’t prove! He says when we Lutherans go to church we leave our brains in a bucket outside the front door. We are so into faith, we are scared to use the brains God gave us.”

“Ah, the faith versus reason argument Bill Moyers is exploring,” I mused. “That’s as old as the hills. But you have nothing to fear. You might as well admit right away that you can’t prove God is a creative Father, or that Jesus is God in human flesh or the power of the Holy Spirit. There are mysteries in the Bible that even the greatest minds have never understood. But we don’t have to understand God with our minds to believe God loves us.”

“I don’t know. Ole always leaves me uptight. I have doubts too, you know. And I don’t understand where reason leaves off and faith begins.”

I nodded. “That’s a challenge every thinking Christian faces. Ole’s search with his reason, however, is like the drunk who lost his car keys and searched for them, not where he lost them but under the street lamp where the light was better.”

“Yah,” Halvor admitted, “I guess I end up confessing that I believe certain things are true even when I don’t fully understand them. And then after a while, I wonder for an ordinary layman like me if faith doesn’t boil down to mainly one thing: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.’”

Well … it’s something to ponder.

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:19a)