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The relationship between faith and reason has been one of the steamiest romances in the course of Western history. What has been one generation’s heart-throb romance has only resurfaced in the next as a chilly break-up. Never fully comfortable with one another, the eternal opposites never get over their exhausting obsession. The relationship has always been strained, but for those who take the time to watch, there is never a dull moment in this drama at the center of Western history. Let’s just say, “It’s complicated.”
When one believes that most of the authors that one is reading have ideas that are so far from one’s own that they can only be discussed as historical curiosities, it is difficult to take their claims with a sufficient seriousness to enter into an earnest conversation regarding their attempt to describe life’s important questions. For example, if one is comfortable holding the modern assumption that so long as two adults are engaged in well-informed and consensual sexual behavior, that guilt is a completely inappropriate category to apply to their actions, it will be very difficult to understand Augustine‘s Confessions. A major driving theme in his story is his tortured attempt to grapple with his sexual guilt. If you do not believe that sexual guilt is a relevant human experience, Augustine’s problems can only appear to be an unnecessary exercise in needlessly giving oneself an emotional beating. A Christian who is aware of and feels the guilt arising from his own jumble of chaotic and disordered sexual desires finds in Augustine not only a fascinating historical character, but a fellow passenger in the journey of human experience. Most of the great books were written from within the Christian worldview and not only being familiar with it historically, but knowing the feel of living it out makes those wonderful readings not only interesting, but deeply applicable to one’s life.
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