Passion With Reason In It
It is a sin to have a religion with no passion in it. What are
protestations of religious love
for God without any real genuine love or passion to do Godís will and
help others behind them? The
worship of God without some genuine love of God behind it melts down
into hypocrisy, mediocrity and
lukewarm faith. This is the kind of religion that mostly surrounds us.
The religion of the secular and
materialistic churches of today neither command interest nor inspires
Yet let us suppose we discover or rediscover God. We find a passion for Christ. What good is applying passion without judgment. Religion without judgment can refer and apply itself to some of the most off balanced causes while stressing the most irrelevant nonsense. Religion can become false off brand religion because of lack of judgment in applying it. Bigotry, Spanish Inquisitions, former puritanical meddling, the use of force to spread it, the importance of pious trivia and gross literalisms are examples. Religion ceases to be a great blessing if applied without judgment and spiritual, transcendent thinking.
But we can find this in any passion. That is, if judgment is wrongly applied, passions can become a tragedy. Love can turn into jealousy. It can be vicious and dominating. Passions demand judgment in the application of them. This applies to any passion.
But it is not judgment that we live for. Judgment and reasoning are purifying and guiding. They aid us in placing our emotions positively. They give life affirming guidance to our passions and emotions. Only it is the transfiguring of our emotions, the awaking of our deep and sincere selves, that is what we as humans really live for. That is when we feel most alive.
Reasoning is ultimately too boring to exist on its own. The world does not live for reason. The birds warble for a reason but reason is not the reason. Generally emotions are what illuminate us as humans. To meet with Christ, to meet a lover in a romance, to have your spouse beside you, to do the work you love, to be fulfilled by the calling that you have, to help others, to experience grace in its many and varied moments, these are what illuminate your life if you have one.
The author, Charles Dickens, taught us to laugh at Scrooge. The grand motivation of his life was money. We see what a sorry life that following only money led him to have. In the end he saw money had failed him as a life purpose. He was building his life on sand. Mere reason is a foundation of shifting sands.
Today the liberals who have become materialists by denial of the spiritual world wish us to lead our lives, we are told, on reason. The result has been a disaster of the values and outlook of our liberally led culture into a no-God land. Liberalism with its obsession about there is no God is really just another religious denomination pushing no-God instead of a God. Actually their zeal has eaten them up. (John 2:17) And with the vision of God has gone the spiritual beliefs that in my opinion help to constitute good values and are badly needed to advance and promote civilization.
Reason is a secondary aid to help with primary feelings that speak of deep primal truths mere reason will never understand. Reason is a lighter and secondary tool of the mind that helps us promote technology and to deal with many circumstances where we need it.
But when people exalt reason to a god, which is what was done in the agony of the French Revolution with its silly Temples To Reason, we see a secondary aid turned into a primary plan. The supremacy of Reason is indeed throwing out the baby with the bath water. Why throw away the adorable baby, a primal Truth, but keep the water meant to wash the baby and then worship the bath water. For that is what reason is, the bath water. It is as the Medieval Theologians and Reformation Fathers saw it, a Handmaiden of the Lord. Our real living truths are primary and primal while reasoning is important but secondary. It is passion for God and each other that make our lives. The reasoning helps us apply needed sense to the conduct of our passions. To be spiritually complete we need both: passion in religion and some reasoning so that we apply religion in a healing, healthy manner and redemptive manner.
It is my belief that is what Protestantism is all about. We never wish to renounce God, but we feel we need to apply a certain amount of reason. That is largely up to the conscience. That is, for example, why we define the Communion at the Lordís Table as Christ being spiritually present. We do not say Christ is physically present, literally in the flesh present, grossly there, and that the bread and wine at Communion are the real and literal body and blood of Christ. But we try to apply some reasoning to some teachings about God in theology without replacing God entirely with reason, or abolishing God to worship Reason. We try to seek reason to apply it in our passion for religion.
We do not seek or want an equal balance of God and reasoning, but a religion where belief is primary but some reasoning is applied secondarily. lndeed we Protestants apply more reasoning than most Christians do. And we have no quarrel with others whose view of reason seems excessive, but it is just not for us. Because we can believe some things, like God, as evident from truths nature has put in us through common grace and special grace as revealed in scriptures. Because we believe some things does not mean therefore we can go on ad nauseum to believe in anything as others seem to do. We try to keep reason not as the Master of religion but as a friend. Nor is technology, from the gift of reasoning, our enemy. It is a great gift of God if we on earth could but limit ourselves to the right uses of it. But I suggest that right use means right God.
Reasoning is used to aid in sorting out life and illuminating primal truths of passion. These passions mankind is determined to enjoy, and there is nothing wrong with that. They are what often makes a life a delight. God shared life with us, that we too might enjoy life and passions. But passion is to have reason applied to it lest it go mad. Reason is not to replace God or be God, or be passion or replace passions. We as humans enjoy and experience deep primal Truths learned from the inner teachings of our feelings. These feelings represent Truths put there for our use, enjoyment and transfiguration by Natureís God. Reason can only go so far. In the final analysis faith is a gift of grace and grace and life are gifts of God.
Applying judgment and reasoning are tools given us by God. But now we live in a Technological Stone Age in which some shallow minds think the tool of reason is God. How insensate and insensitive can you get? In the future that is about to be written, we shall see! God have mercy upon us as the elimination of God leaves us without a vision of God as the redeeming Restrainer of Selves. It seems we on earth are now to be set free of God by liberal teachings. Having wrongly turned the tool of reason on God to eliminate God, rather than clarify Him, now liberal nations can turn the tools of reason mankind has invented upon each other to devastate the world or, maybe, wipe out earth? It is possible, you know!
You may want to be free of the curse of liberal atheism that has launched some of the moral plagues on the present day Egypt that is part of America. These modern moral plagues in our spiritual Egypt are thinking of ďnumber oneĒ (self) first, proclaiming excessive anti-social freedom for the individual, marriage as not necessary, no self-sacrifice needed to keep social units (family, country, church) going, no belief in God, to name only a few. The method of the liberal atheists is desperately trying to strip away the vision of an harmonious and spiritually outsourcing earth. And if you are bored with that, as many are, try this: Donít ask the cutesy pseudo-intellectuals in the Temple of Reason, what do you think? Ask them what they donít know! They canít say definitively there is no God. There is room for faith. Man can live through the possibility of God. Proof of God is not needed. Proof muddles things up with manipulative visibility.
Then you may laugh, breathe easier, and reaffirm the spirituality of mankind by recognition of the deep primal Truths solidly lodged within you and all mankind. Someday science will get back in tune with nature. It will realize nature is our friend trying to cure spiritual illnesses as well as physical sickness. That the two are interconnected. What do we need to know? What nature makes us aware of. So get with the right ways to use reason. It is an aid in applying judgment to deep truths of primal passion that we know prove true in living from an awareness inside of us given through Natureís God and common grace. Reason also has scads of other, lighter uses.
The deep wells in us of passion, love and grace, of knowing Godís existence, and naturally serving others are proved by their transforming our lives, illuminating our beings, and leading us closer to God and a higher quality of life. I am aware because of manís sinful nature, perfectibility is not possible on this earth, but mankind can be made more livable. And I am shooting to increase livability with each other through positive spiritual advancement, not aiming for perfectibility. Mankind is too much of a handful to be made perfect on this earth, but I am convinced through grace, prayer and work we can improve our spiritual livability, the ability to live together and to survive with each other. And we can and shall make a difference through religious faith.
Reason has some good practical tools to aid religion in furthering our social livability as well as wisely guiding some of our passions, but donít get too passionate over tools and technology. Thatís like a building contractor falling in love with his measuring stick while forgetting the real use of it is to build the house under construction. Thatís the wrong priorities. But use a little reason, a tool God has wisely given to mankind while remembering that reason is not enough. Though reason does help. Yet it is our love, our passions, God and the people that are dear to us that are the stars, the lights, that can still be seen during our modern dark nights of the soul. Praise Him. Love is often helped by reason. God has given us reason to help. But God is not reason. God is LOVE (I John 4:8), irrational, unreasonable LOVE for us far beyond our finite reasoning and our limited understanding.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.