Faith and Reason go hand in hand–as responsible Christians, and especially Catholics, we’ve been told that since Thomas Aquinas, and have recently affirmed it through the Encyclical Fides et Ratio. However, there comes a point in time when, one side becoming unbalanced or unduly focused upon, Faith and Reason can battle each other for domination and actually HINDER the growth of the Christian.
Pope John Paul II states “Faith asks that its object be understood with the help of reason; and at the summit of its searching reason acknowledges that it cannot do without what faith presents” (Fides et Ratio, 42). Therefore, Faith without reason is “superstition”, whereas Reason without faith is nihilistic and relativism (seems to be the backbone of today’s society, huh?).
So which is more important, faith or reason? As a responsible Catholic, I must say that they are both equally important–just as Scripture and Tradition are equal. We all have a duty to be able to “give reason” as to the hope in our hearts and why we believe what we do. Likewise, there are mysteries of the Faith that reason cannot supply an answer to, and in those we are called to have faith.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, in this modern day society, considering the way most Americans think, Faith is the harder virtue. And, while I won’t say its “more important”, I will say that its the “safeguard” or reason, and in a sense “higher” in that it is a Theological Virtue endowed by God.
There must be an academic element to all faith, and it is good to study theology, and at the very least the basic doctrines of the faith. We must UNDERSTAND God to KNOW and LOVE God.
HOWEVER, reason, study, and academia cannot and must not be our primary source of identification with God. We MUST have a relationship with him, and can do that only through a faith-filled WILLING of love through him. We must pray about what we learn and ask God to speak to us himself, not only through books.
Please, brothers and sisters. Have faith, pray, and discern what God wants for you. We are made to know, love, and serve God, and so let us try to do all those three equally.
Ratio ET Fides