Thursday, 17 December 2020

Relativizing Doctrines - The Unintended Reformation - Second Chapter Review

Chapter One - Excluding God

This chapter is really all about how reason/rationalism played such a big part in the Reformation and how it's promise failed. Protestant's made the argument that Catholicism had departed from the word of the bible. That they had invented ceremonies and traditions that were to be found no where within the bible. Which to many made them think that they were being lead down the wrong path. 

Catholics pointed out that while that may have been strictly true in parts, these things had been done for good reason. Everything that had been done had been thought out, over centuries, they were not simply random thoughts that had been plucked out of thin air. But those arguments mostly feel upon deaf ears. Protestants felt that they had been lied to. They sort to find their own theological reality through the bible but without most of the theology that had come before. The question was asked, how is that possible?

The answer was that reason could make it possible, the Catholic problem was that they had allowed superstition to take over their worldview. Protestantism could remove that superstition and replace it with theology straight from the bible. Words that came straight from God's mouth and that could now go directly to the Protestants eyes and ears, without being muddled by Priests. 

But this idea failed, it did not lead to a new and uncomplicated faith, instead it lead to ever more claims about God and about the bible. This failure began in the 1520's, the first decade of the Reformation!

Which has continued ever since and in fact continues more than ever today. Before the Reformation there had been a central authority that could be appealed to, or who could arbitrate between competing claims. In the Protestant world that was not only not available but was explicitly rejected. Reason would find a way, if not today, then maybe tomorrow, but one day God's word would be made clear and then it will have all been worthwhile. But over time these competing ideas lead to a place that no one, Catholic or Protestant wanted, it lead to the idea that maybe no one was right.

Maybe reason couldn't work in theology, but it could in science and in other areas of knowledge. Slowly, very slowly, over many centuries theology was pushed aside as being more trouble than it was worth and in it's place other areas of study took over. Reason has been used by nearly every Philosopher in the last five centuries as the base upon which their work begins. But we are no nearer to answering the Life Questions then we ever were. We have constant claim and counterclaim. Truth itself is no longer respected, reason has not lead us to a place that reason should have. 

But this idea that reason will answer our questions remains. As I read this chapter I realised that I was a product of this same way of thinking, I am using reason to try and find answers. I wasn't expecting to find myself in the book!

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