I spent lunch today engaged in a spirited theological debate. The man I was at lunch with is what I would refer to as a 'Rational Christan'. He believes from scripture what makes logical sense, which for the most part puts him on fairly solid ground. For example he believes Intelligent Design over the Theory of Evolution. A rational decision based on a lifetime of study. He does not necessarily believe in a young earth. He also is on good footing when it comes to essential doctrine and his perspective on the life and work of Christ. On all that is essential we agree, and yet his belief system I would never wish to have.

It is not that he doesn't believe God capable of miracles, but he will only accept the supernatural as a last resort. For instance he believes that the story of the flood is myth. A christian myth and based on fact but a myth none the less. His view is that the flood was a catastrophic, large-scale flood limited to a specific geographical area. This event became story, story became legend, legend became myth which was handed down orally until Moses included it in his writings as an example of both the judgement and mercy of God.

Now I am one of the first to acknowledge that statements such as 'I believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God from cover to cover' are rather far fetched. There are specific passages which, though traditionally accepted as part of the Bible, do not appear in the oldest and best manuscripts. (John 7:53-8:11 is one of the most apparent and it's lack of authenticity is noted in many of the better translations.) If anyone cares to challenge the authenticity of a passage of scripture and has a scholarly leg to stand on, I will not quibble. The difficulty arises then the entire body of Scripture is opened to scrutiny based solely on any one individual's feelings on the subject. This is what I refer to as the Rational Christian approach.

According to this man's view God is a god who uses myths and folklore to convey essential truth and the entire body of scripture is reduced to the level of one of Christ's parables that must be 'taken with a grain of salt'. In the end he is left to pick and choose what he believes never knowing for sure what is Truth and what is only legend. He spoke of the many long periods of doubt he has gone through, questioning what he believes and if God exists. In the end he believes because Christianity is the only worldview that makes sense. The thing that saddens me the most is that he knows the truth - he even believes the truth - but he has never experienced the joy of being a Christian because faith and trust have been replaced with logic and reason.

Logic certainly has a place in understanding theology and the Bible. Everyone's understanding of theology will change over time, and the knowledge that comes from biblical study will often cause us to doubt what we may have always accepted as truth. This is, after all an essential part of christian growth. But to have no foundation to begin those studies on, to only accept what one can rationalize... that is to never understand the joy of simply having faith. The chief error of this belief (aside from its reckless disregard for scripture) is that he has lost the personal aspect of having a relationship with God, not just knowing about him.