MY RESPONSE TO "MATURE FAITH HAS NOTHING TO FEAR FROM CRITICAL REASON" By Sean Goan and Kieran O'Mahony






Sean Goan and Kieran O'Mahony (Opinion & Analysis 6th Jan) mistook my interrogation of the concepts through which Christianity was originally presented for a questioning of the faith itself (Opinion & Analysis 23rd Dec). I consider that what survives of the Christian tradition after such a critique as mine points in the direction of wholeness, unconditional acceptance, unassailable dignity and inexhaustible wonder. Is not a function (whether justifiable or not) of religions to seek to complete the fractured meanings offered by non-religious interpretations of life?

While pleased that they consider that "mature faith has nothing to fear from critical reason" I would ask them to think whether their two statements "the mysterious God, who is always greater than we can say, who is not a being in the cosmos, but the cause and 'is-ness' of all that is" and "This mystery has drawn close to humanity and, we believe, has expressed himself fully, graciously, wonderfully in the single life of Jesus of Nazareth." involve a clash of paradigms as I suspect that they do.

I was surprised that they did not indicate (in relation to revelation) that their intriguing question "is all religion just a human projection or has God taken the initiative?" is unanswerable, particularly if one takes seriously, as I try to do, the uncertainty of God's existence and God's hiddeness and unknowability (assuming God's existence). Perhaps this is what they mean by claiming that I have adopted "the all or nothing approach implied in fundamentalist readings". If so, I beg to differ.

I wish these two Milltown Institute lecturers success as they seek to expand the number of people equipped to bring modern insights to bear upon faith traditions whose roots lie in a pre- scientific world in a way that is not threatening to themselves, but empowering. What if Church of Ireland parishes had had significant groups of clergy and laity over recent years with a similar training?

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