Reason and Belief has as its major theme the relationship between faith and reason. In the effort to contextualize his argument, the author examines the dialectic of faith and reason within the historical and theoretical contexts of the Catholic and Reformed traditions. While in the Catholic tradition, reason holds a relatively high place, Blanshard argues that it is limited by revelation. As for the Protestant understanding of faith and reason, which the author traces to Luther, it too fails offer a viable model of reason and belief, because is continuously riddled with the emotions and irrationalism of its leading theologians: Kierkegaard, Brunner, and Barth. A turn to an investigation of ethics outside of Christian dogma in the life of Jesus even proves deficient. In the end, then, Blanshard posits and argues for his own ‘Rationalist Alternative’ in which the sentiment of rationality serves as a person’s best guide, as it has been the active principle in the evolution of religion, and, according to the author, is itself revelation.
Reason and Belief
In Reason and Belief, Blanshard surveys the relationship between faith and reason in the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions. After his broad discussion of such a relationship which includes attention to the thought of Luther, Kierkegaard, Brunner, and Barth, he turns to ethics and belief and finally to religion and rationalism. In the end, then, he argues that the sentiment of rationality, though fallible, is man’s best guide to navigating between reason and belief and has been active in the evolution of religion.
- Kelly Van Andel, University of Glasgow