Is this a claim of faith or of reason?

When Christians make divine revelation the point of departure for their thinking, this does not mean that they believe something nonsensical or that revelation is essentially divested of reasonable justification such that it cannot be discussed. It only means that God and, more specifically, revelation can make statements which cannot be grasped in their entirety, such that we first comprehend them after we have accepted them and understand what they mean through everyday life.

Let us choose an example: A biblical statement which Christian doctrine has integrated is that all people are sinners. That statement, for instance, can only be believed and not proved, for how can anyone conduct an investigation of all people? And who could be unbiased in evaluating every individual? Who knows all people, let alone knows them so well that such a judgment can be made about them? And who would want to make such a judgment about people of other cultures, about those who have died, or even those who are yet to be born in the future and to document this scientifically? Only the Creator has such knowledge – and the justice and righteousness – to make such an all-encompassing statement.

Does that mean, however, that the statement only rests upon blind faith and contradicts all reason? No. Though the essential statement is too broad for us, yet it is confirmed and, in that sense “proved” by reason day by day in us individually, in the people we know, and in humanity at large (in our coming to know them through media coverage, for instance). For that reason, the Bible incessantly sees substantiation of its basic statement that all people are sinners through specific individuals, examples, and sins. We all tangibly lie, hate specific people, let others sense our avarice, and live at the expense of others. Moreover, the only reason there is racism and people starving, to state it in concrete terms, is because there are people involved.

Since we have never met anyone about whom we could say that he is not a sinner, our statement, made on the basis of divine revelation, turns out to be correct and sensible. It is so because, to the extent that verification is possible, it corresponds to reality. No individual has ever known a person who was selfless, loving, and gallant from the time he or she was small, and who has never cheated or lied. Even Mother Teresa, who demonstrated selflessness on the whole, was not always simple in her daily dealings and, in addition to great, earth-shattering words, she also uttered many a peculiar political statement.

By making the statement that everyone is a sinner is far from saying in detail what sin is. But no matter how sin is defined in particular, as that which is wrong, or what is evil, you will not find an individual who is completely free of it.

It is mysterious to me how one can basically proceed on the assumption that the Bible and Christianity are wrong when they speak about all people’s tending towards that which is evil. Do people who dispute this deal with other people than the people I deal with? Do they read other newspapers than I do? And have they never heard of the philosophical insight: “Man is a wolf to man” (Latin: ‘homo homini lupus est’)?

 

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