No argument for God

These days I read a new book, a kind of  Christian postmodernist mysticism. The issue is given by the problematic dichotomy: faith or reason? Faith beyond reason? Faith against reason? Faith is irra­tional, illog­i­cal and absurd?

Religion is irrational! New atheists trumpet the claim loudly, so much so that it’s become a sort of conventional wisdom. Professing your faith in God sounds increasingly like a confession of intellectual feebleness. Belief in God sounds as cute and quaint as it does pointless. John Wilkinson contends that the irrationality of faith is its greatest asset, because rationalism itself sets artificial limits on all that we’ve seen–which itself is hinting at something greater that can’t be seen. In No Argument for God he turns the tables on the cult of reason, showing that it limits conversation to what happened, when what we really want is the why behind it. We settle for investigation when what we need is revelation–the answer to all our longings. Read this book and break though the gridlock of apologetic arguments to a life-giving encounter with the God who satisfies our minds and seeks our good. (John Wilkinson, No Argu­ment for God: Going Beyond Rea­son in Con­ver­sa­tions About Fait, IVP, 2011, back cover).

Hm, some very problematic phrases, revealing the limits of the evangelical background

…we know that peo­ple aren’t argued into the king­dom of God (p. 155)

We don’t have argu­ments for God, because God didn’t either (p. 155)

…a lot rides on the fact that there is no argu­ment for God (p. 160)

…faith requires accep­tance before proof, and rea­son requires proof before accep­tance” (p. 105)

It comes down to this: vir­tu­ally no one I have had a con­ver­sa­tion with about their faith jour­ney has ever admit­ted they came to faith through argu­ments. Most people’s jour­ney to faith is spe­cific, strange, peculiar—irrational. Augus­tine heard a child’s voice singing, “Take up and read” and thought it was God telling him to read the Scrip­tures. Mar­tin Luther came to faith after suf­fer­ing from depres­sion about his own sin­ful­ness. John Wes­ley talks about his heart being “strangely warmed.” I don’t think I know any who were argued into the faith. That is because there is no argu­ment for God. Our faith comes to us in a Per­son (p. 102)

I am glad that the author was aware of the following paradox:

We can­not escape the fact that rea­son is nec­es­sary to advance even the basic the­sis of this book. We can­not argue about the non­sense of faith with­out mak­ing some sense to some­one or hav­ing a start­ing point by which we all agree on log­i­cally. With­out logic, all ideas fall apart. This book is non­sense because I use logic to decon­struct logic. (142)

Even if I disagree with some views of its author, this book is worth discussing.

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