Separation of Church and Reason

Couple-YellingChristianity once held a place of reverence and respect among academics and the common people alike. Even from a secular perspective, Christianity was seen as a philosophy that held to certain truths (the Bible) deserving of respect. Those days are long gone and the world now sees the Church and those who belong to it in a very different way. We are now living in the days where the separation between the world and the Church is definite and it is growing. No matter how much we fight it, the secular world holds the view that there is a definite and distinct separation between church and reason. A belief that as soon as biblical assertions are brought into a debate the conversation has moved from one based on facts to one based on abstract concepts that are not rooted in reality what-so-ever. This distinction can be infuriating; especially when a non-believer fails to even consider a worldview outside of his own yet demands that we accept his. The good news is that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

No matter how much we want to fight it, the secular world does not respect nor are they willing to consider a worldview that is outside their own. The idea that a philosophy that holds to truths outside the observable universe should even be considered is laughable among most atheists. In a discussion regarding natural right or the sanctity of life, the nonbeliever rejects any truth in regards to what they consider “religious arguments.” Anyone who has tried to have a discussion with an atheist regarding practically any topic understands this and has experienced this first hand. Unless your argument is based on a secularist view of science or from a “verifiable” historical source most atheists will write off your argument as baseless and without deserving of consideration or respect.

I was on a business trip several months back when I started having a discussion with an atheist on the necessity of belief in God. I generally tend to stay away from these types of “discussions” with non-believers because they always devolve from discussion to hostility on the part of the atheist. The only reason why I made an exception is because I saw it as an opportunity to witness to a person that I thought would be receptive to the Gospel. I knew I was in trouble when he started his counter with “only the simple need God.” Though I kept my talking points calm and based on biblical foundations, he continued to get more and more angry that I refused to debate him based on his concept of truth. On a couple of different occasions I attempted to move away from discussion of morality and sin, but he kept bringing it back and attacking Christianity based on his humanist perspective (An outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters). When I started quoting scripture, the man got more and more agitated and the discussion quickly got so out of control that we both decided to go our separate ways. Though I wanted to talk about the fact that God has a purpose for all of us and that He loves us, the man refused to accept any truth outside of what he can see or touch or taste.

not_listening-1Discussions like this are not uncommon especially when talking to people who consider themselves to be educated and wise by worldly standards. Rather than seeing science as the study of God’s amazing sovereignty and power, the academic sees it as the study of the random universe. Though the atheist hold a certain moral truths such as do not murder or steal, they cannot accept that these come from anything other than human requirements for survival. Rather than accepting Christianity as a philosophy, they see it as a rejection of reason and science. This is the reality that we find ourselves in today and unfortunately for those of us who wish to gain the respect of the world, this will not change. The good news is that I believe that there are positive implications for the Church and for the followers of Jesus Christ.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, – 1 Peter 2:4

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:14

For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” – 1 Corinthians 3:19

There’s nothing more detrimental to the Body of Christ than a desire to be accepted by the world. There have been countless pastors over the past 50 years that have had a wish to make the Gospel and biblical teachings more palatable to those who do not hold them to be true. When we attempt to dilute certain biblical foundations that have been accepted for the past two thousand years in order to gain acceptance by the broader community, we fail to understand that this acceptance will never happen and that all we do is hurt ourselves. When we introduce the possibility of errancy within the text of the Bible, we do not make it more palatable for the non-believer, we make it less believable. Just like any hypothesis, a single error makes the whole idea false.

hangingPeople do not come to Christ because it makes logical sense. They do not get saved because all of a sudden their worldview and our worldview suddenly converge. People come to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because the idea of the observable world and science being sufficient in a world that is full of misery becomes laughable. We must be a beacon of light in a darkened world that is pointless and without purpose for those without God. We do not come with logic based on the things that we can observe but a logic that is based on the fundamental truth of God’s love and sovereignty. For those of us who, through God’s grace alone, are able to make the distinction, these truths are sufficient. Unfortunately, for the nonbeliever with a hardened heart, these truths will never be sufficient. Ignoring sins that the world accepts or turning a blind eye to injustice the world is comfortable with will never change this divergence and will only serve to weaken the Body of Christ.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. – 2 Corinthians 5:6-9

There is a reason why Paul made the distinction between the world and the children of God. The world is not our home and we should not attempt to make it so.

submitWe certainly live in an age where Christianity is disrespected and is viewed as backwards and stupid by the secular world. They view our arguments as silly, baseless and without merit. When we attempt to converge Christianity with worldly truths we simply devolve into worldly truths. Christianity should not be part of the world but should be separate from it. We must strive to be as God intended us to be. That is what is attractive to those who are seeking something outside of their observable universe. When science, outside the lens of God, is no longer sufficient, those who God pulls will start looking for something different. It is not a separation of church and reason; it is a separation of the worldly and the pure. It is a separation of those who will do for themselves and those who wish to bring glory to God. That is sufficient and that should be our goal.

Michael Davis
Senior Editor of Veterans to Christ. Served as a Cavalry Scout from 2005-2009. Iraq Veteran.