“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”
Isaiah 1:18, KJV
Amazing advances were made in science and human knowledge during the so-called Period of Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, in eighteenth century Europe. But more and more these advances came into conflict with the teachings of the Christian Church. People wanted to build a society based on reason and human rights, by exploring what man was capable of, but this meant ignoring one huge basic problem. How do we deal with man’s sinful nature?
The Bible’s solution for sin is faith in Jesus Christ. But faith in an unseen Saviour can seem so unreasonable. Indeed faith, by its very nature, is unreasonable to our human-centred way of thinking. Faith perceives as real what hasn’t yet been revealed as fact. This radically opposes the scientific process of building truth on proven facts. During the Age of Reason centuries of corrupt values promoted by much of the Church had become increasingly unattractive, and often down-right destructive. For many Enlightenment thinkers the certainty of reason needed to utterly replace the uncertain mystery of faith, if society was to be truly transformed.
But do faith and reason need to be in opposition? The Bible doesn’t deny the extraordinary capabilities of man, but neither does it suggest that we elevate them to the point of worship. God has given man the ability to reason, to explore why things are as they are, but the Bible concludes (as in today’s verse) that the ultimate source of all wisdom is in God and not man. Most importantly, God knows what is right and wants that knowledge to be understood by mankind. In Covenant with Him He wants us to find the solution to sin. Then there can be divine provision and protection, which truly builds a humane and ordered society.
Prayer: Father God, thank You that You have given man the gift of reason to explore the wonders of Your creation. However by faith we declare today that the source of all wisdom is in You and not in us. Teach us Your ways,Lord. Amen.