It is my contention that Christianity, when it is full-blooded, is simultaneously reflexive, reasonable and faithful. The tools of reason and analysis are actually built into and intended to be used by the faith system of Christianity. If God has given us intellectual tools such as reason, and if all truth is God’s truth, the Christian has nothing to fear by examining all things in pursuit of their faith.
In a recent column, Dinesh D'Souza cites Stanley Fish (whose NT Times blog requires subscription) and some recent comments of his critiquing the recent spate of atheist anti-Christian literature. A significant part of what they both have to say question the unflinching dogmatism of these popular authors as compared to the constant reflection of Christianity. Fish, while discussing their analysis of Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Progress, notes that their indictments of inscrutability and intransigence upon Christianity fail. The text itself, and Christianity in general, contain the kind of reflection and even skepticism they say it doesn’t. D’Souza notes:
Fish comments, "What this shows is that the objections Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens make to religious thinking are themselves part of religious thinking. Rather than being swept under the rug of a seamless discourse, they are the very motor of that discourse."
Fish observes that while religious people over the centuries have dug deeply into the questions of life, along come our shallow atheists who present arguments as if they first thought of them, arguments that Christians have long examined with a seriousness and care that is missing in contemporary atheist discourse.
What seems to be lost on most critics of Christianity is that it contains a long and powerful tradition of theological and philosophical development. The dogma of Christianity necessarily includes the tools of self-analysis and reflection – if we are noetically broken creatures, our faith requires constant attention. The reigning dogma of popular atheism is apparently marked by self-satisfaction, inflexibility and myopia. I would not be surprised if it were true that no other tradition in human history has offered more to the advancement of the human mind than the Body of Christ.