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Originally written for Shepherd of the Ridge Lutheran Church, apply these ideas to your local context.
For some reason, people often think of faith and reason being contradictory, that somehow, when you become a Christian, you must check your brain at the door. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our reason is a gift from God, and He calls us to use that reason to His glory.
In order to do so, we go to Holy Scripture in faith, knowing God is the truth, and His Word is the truth by which all other truths are judged. As we read Scripture, we use our reason to understand it and interpret it, seeing how it fit not only into the lives of its immediate historical audience, but our lives today. We look to see the life of Christ, how God prepared the people for His coming and prophesied about Him that we may recognize Him, and how He still comes to us today.
But we can approach Scripture in two ways, and yes, there’s a right and wrong way to do so.
The “Majesterial Use of Reason” places human intellect above and beyond God’s knowledge and wisdom. Man’s knowledge, based on our limited experience and only what we can detect with our impaired senses, is considered the truth by which we judge the Bible. If something in the Bible doesn’t fit with our understanding of reality (or it makes us uncomfortable), we reject or change it. Of course, placing human reason above God’s not only reflects incredible hubris, it mirrors the words of Satan to Eve: “Did God really say…?”
With the “Ministerial Use of Reason,” reason becomes a minister, or servant, to the Word. The Word directs and guides us. We set aside our presuppositions and expectations and let God speak to us. If we understand a passage in such a way that conflicts with another passage of Scripture, we know we’ve misunderstood it and need to read it again, as God knows all things and cannot lie. But still, we use our reason and look out into His creation, see what we find there, and see the hand of the Creator and the beautiful work He has accomplished.
Ultimately, His Word points us to our sin and the price Jesus paid to free us from it on the cross. He assures us that we can rest firmly in the knowledge that He has created all things, sustains all things, and has redeemed humanity with the death of Christ, followed with the promise of eternal life.
May our Lord keep you in the one true faith to eternal life and bless you with ability to see His work and point it out to others that they too may praise Him for His excellent work.