MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — This year’s Dill Lecture series from Dauphin Way UMC features Reverend Adam Hamilton. According to a news release from the church:
Today we’re talking with Dauphin Way UMC Senior Minister, Rev. Michael Precht about some of the larger issues Hamilton will raise this week. Here’s a look at our conversation.
Anchor: Why do some see rationality and Christianity as mutually exclusive and do they have to be?
Guest: Well, I’m not sure how you would define rationality, but I’ll define it as the knowledge that can be discovered by its own internal logic without appealing to traditional authorities, or emotion, or spiritual experience. And it’s true that Christianity makes certain claims that go beyond anything that can be deduced by reason alone, but Christianity is not unique in that. Art and storytelling and politics and woodworking and fishing all depend upon certain truths that cannot be deduced or taught through an argument or mathematical proof. And all of those disciplines invite us to learn in ways that don’t always make sense at first. Faith is another way of knowing that is more than rational. Faith can include rationality, and in fact, it has to. God gave us faith and reason so that we can know the truth. Christians cannot be faithful unless we are being faithful to the truth. Jesus commands Christians to love the truth and live by the truth because the truth will set us free. So we don’t have a choice; we need faith and rationality because both help us be truthful people.
Anchor: How can Christians reconcile the metaphysical aspects of the faith with the demands of the physical world?
Guest: The same way that everyone else does. Everybody has metaphysics. Every single person tells themselves a larger story that makes sense of the various demands of everyday life. The story you tell might be that it’s all meaningless, or you are fundamentally alone in this world, that “it’s all about relationships,” or that life is one big competition, or we’re all in this together. All of those are metaphysical claims that say something more than we can deduce on our own. And at some level, none of them can be proven. I do think that Christian metaphysics makes sense out of things that feel true in our hearts, but seem irrational in our minds. the most example for Christians is the metaphysics of resurrection. We are called to make sacrifices and humble ourselves and, as the book of Philippians says “to think of others more highly than ourselves,” and to do good even when it might not make any difference. Christians aren’t the only ones who do that sort of thing, of course, but we also have a metaphysics that says why it’s worth doing. Even if we end up sacrificing our entire lives, we haven’t lost a thing.
ANCHOR: One of the biggest questions of faith is how can a loving God allow suffering in the world? How do you respond to that common but complicated question of faith?
GUEST: Well. First of all, I try not to respond too quickly. There are some things that are true that can’t be conveyed in a formula, and especially not in the middle of deep sorrow. I think the most important thing Christians can do with suffering is to be present with those who suffer.
And when the time comes to say something, the first thing we can say is that God is with us in suffering. That is the mystery and wonder of Jesus- God saw our suffering and joined us in the experience. Second, I say that not everything happens for a reason, but God can give a reason to everything. There are things that happen in this world — there are things that we do — that are utterly senseless, pointless. But the book of Genesis, chapter 1 says that in the beginning, the creation was formless and void, and it was from that formless void that God made everything good. God can still make a new creation out of the senseless voids in our lives.
And third, I believe there will be a day when, in the words of JRR Tolkien, “all the sad things come untrue.” There will be a day when all that is truly wrong will be met with justice, and in that justice will also be mercy. 1 Corinthians describes this as the day when the last enemy, death, will be defeated. God will redeem everything that was meaningless. And in the meantime, God is with us, and every so often we can make something beautiful or something good out of our own suffering, and when that happens we glimpse the new creation we are waiting for.