In A Faith That Enquires, Sir Henry Jones seeks to demonstrate the importance of a rational and scientific investigation into Religion. The structure upon which he builds his argument finds its foundation in Lord Gifford’s injunction that Religion should be pursued and studied both logically and scientifically in order to prove whether it is true or false. Without relying upon special revelation or supernatural intervention, this type of enquiry has the benefit of allowing both adherents and non-adherents to verify whether religious faith is indeed something to be pursued during one’s lifetime and to counter any doubts that may arise during moments of emotional trauma.
Jones structures his course into three distinct parts. Lectures I-III comprise his apologetic for a rational enquiry into the veracity of religious faith. In contrast to his contemporaries who argue for a sentimental fideism, Jones contends that all spiritual facts will eventually be shown to be natural and that every important facet of life that concerns humanity will lie at the point of intersection between the natural and the spiritual. Since God is believed to be sovereign, then the theory and practice of religion should infiltrate every aspect of life. As a result, religious knowledge becomes a vital impetus for religious experience, as a person understands why they must make certain moral decisions.
Through Lectures IV-X, Jones builds upon his previous argument to demonstrate that both religion and morality can be reconciled through humanity’s pursuit of the absolute forms of truth, beauty, and goodness. Since universal knowledge only comes through Reason, religious leaders should employ the same methods of enquiry as the Natural Sciences. Yet, while scientific investigation tends to appeal to the finite and limited, Religion demands the infinite and an intolerance of fixed limitations. Consequently, Jones presents a Darwinian method of progress-through-process in order to demonstrate that both morality and spiritual knowledge continue to exist so long as they are being produced through sustained volition. Thus, ‘Knowledge, for instance, no less than morality, exists so long as the process of knowing is carried on’ (162).
In the third, and final, set of lectures (Lectures XI-XX), Jones argues for the reconciliation of a finite humanity with an infinite God. Using a tripartite argumentation of religion, philosophy, and poetry, he extends his contention that religious knowledge is an infinite process to include claims of morality. For Jones, the moral life is the highest telos conceivable and the natural world, with all of its imperfections, both furnishes the perfect environment for the moral process and demands it as the ultimate good. As entities in relationship to other humans, the natural world, and God, mankind must continue to test facts and moral events through an unceasing process in order to determine their truth or goodness. Yet, Jones maintains that God does not stand aloof in deistic remoteness, but rather reveals himself in the process as mankind endeavours to become more God-like in both knowledge and morality.