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.