Sunday, May 16, 2010

Missional Muslims II: "Misconceptions about Islam" video

This video is entitled "Misconceptions about Islam," but it seems to be more about misconceptions about Christianity. Oh, if we could just eliminate the straw men!

I really admire the way Muslims respect the mind. But we must remember that while truth is truth wherever we find it, truth and rationality are not identical. Rationality is relative to cultures. Rationality is the means; but truth is the end.

In premodern times (particularly the Middle Ages,) Christians saw faith and reason as complementary, and sought to live by the motto, "faith seeking understanding." They maintained Aristotle's insight that any rational explanation requires discussing four causes: formal, material, efficient and final. Most important was the final cause, or purpose for the thing or event: the "why." which ultimately pointed to God.

However, In the West during the modern period (Renaissance to 19th century), people began to idolize reason and neglect or even reject their faith. During this period, rational explanation was "trimmed" to mean only efficient causality. That is, people stopped asking "why?" and only began asking "how?" That question was easy to answer in terms of quantities and measurements, whereas the "why" question was more spiritual. These people took rationality/ reason to be simply "deduction" and "induction," (left brain) and rejected intuitive knowing (right brain) as irrational.

Today in the West we have the opposite problem: people reject "logic" and rush to embrace contradictions and all manner of irrationalities, taking that to be the "rational" thing to do! People no longer seek to conform themselves to the truth, but instead vainly imagine that they can create it for themselves.

I would encourage Muslims not to repeat the errors of modernism, and think that their form of rationality is the only way to get truth. On the other hand, I would encourage Muslims not to dismiss reason in order to exult faith. Isn't all truth is God's truth?

Faithful Christians believe that they do not create the truth, but discover it, as it is given through God's word and His creation. We also do not read God's word "flatly." We consider all scripture as authoritative, but we do not take every person as a model, whose actions we must imitate. Judas betrays Jesus; but we are NOT meant to imitate Judas. David commits adultery, but we are NOT meant to be adulterers. These are cautionary tales, meant to illustrate what kind of people we should NOT be, alongside the stories of people we should be like: Abraham, Hosea, and the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

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