28 April, 2005

Rodney Stark: faith and reason are not opposed...

...in fact, Stark asserts,

Christian commitment to reason is massive, and part of it is that one shall sit and reason about Scripture... Augustine says, ‘There are many things here we do not understand about God's revelations, but one day we will.' That suggests to me that the task is there for all of us.

This isn't some crackpot fundamentalist who assembles whatever flimsy evidence he can to support a pre-determined conclusion. (No, not all of Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict is flimsy; some of it is very good. However, I read McDowell's book when I was a fundamentalist, and even then I knew something wasn't quite right.)

Rather, Rodney Stark is a premiere name in sociology of religion. I was lucky enough to read his text The Rise of Christianity when I was a seminarian; I didn't like a lot of what it said, but it was still one of the most interesting books I had read about early Christianity: myth-shattering, yes, but flattering of the faith and highlighting the fact that it was those ever-unpopular doctrines of Christianity that contributed to its success. Even more appealing is the fact that this is one of those books that is both authored by an academic and described as "highly-readable" — far too few of these precious gems exist.

One of the article's most amusing quotes (in my opinion) is about religious people in academia:
There are a lot of superior academics who are solid Christians, but in most places they keep their mouths shut, because there is, in fact, discrimination. But they're there.

Thanks to the discussion group at Bede's Journal for inspiring this post. You should definitely be reading that weblog.

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