Earlier this week Pope Benedict XVI told his fellow Germans, and other modern Western societies, that they are shutting their ears to the Christian message when they insist that science and technology alone can combat AIDS and other social ills. His description of the problem is one that will stand out for me for the foreseeable future. He refers to this acute spiritual malady as a “hardness of hearing.”

What a great description of modern life that expression provides. We are so enamored with our human insights and scientific discoveries that we have developed a spiritual condition that can be only called: “Hardness of hearing.” Benedict elaborated on this comment by saying “we are no longer able to hear God—there are too many different frequencies filling our ears.” And he added, “What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age.” He then told the crowd of over 250,000 pilgrims, gathered in Munich, that “People in Asia and Africa admire our scientific and technical progress, but at the same time they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man’s vision, as if this were the highest form of reason.”

Reason is always a great servant but it is a tyrannical master. Western man lost his way in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and our societies are now crashing on the shoals of modernity and postmodernity. We desperately need to learn how to hear God again. This “hardness of hearing” is now sweeping across the peoples of the United States. The tragic results of this malady will impact us precisely as they have European cultures before us. Only a true awakening will preserve us in the end. How can anyone doubt this? Those who tell you otherwise are getting terribly close to the message of the false prophets of ancient Israel.

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  1. Gene Redlin September 14, 2006 at 10:05 am

    Reason can be the enemy of faith. I have poked fun at non (and nominal) Christians who make commentary on the church and on Christians.
    It’s like a bunch of cats in a tree overlooking a swimming pool and trying to describe what swimming is or should be like.
    Reason can be the enemy of Faith.
    Many Christians who love Jesus and who want to know more turn on the critical and reasoning side of their brain and find themselves puzzled by the inability they have to grasp some of the Majesty of God.
    Because they don’t grasp it, they either treat it pejorativly or poo poo it or try to analyse it. They use reason.
    They want God on their terms, in their understanding, in their framwork. They discount anything that falls outside the box they have placed God in.
    That is what the Pope is talking about. Once we try to put God in a box, then our reason will keep moving in the sides of the box smaller and smaller until God no longer exists.
    That Box is reason.
    If God were to be reasoned to be understood we wouldn’t need to have a spirit, we would be all mind.
    As a Pentecostal thru and thru I see this all the time.
    As a man concerned with revival you see this all the time. People want God to move, they want revival but only on their terms. If it falls outside their framework they reject it. So what’s happening right now in NC (mass Baptisms), what happened in Pensecola, whats happening in Toronto is rejected because it doesn’t fit inside the box.
    REASON can be the enemy of FAITH.

  2. tiber jumper September 19, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    Dear John:
    As a ex- evangelical charismatic recently “crossed the tiber to Rome,” I appreciate your kind comments regarding Pope Benedict’s comments.
    I have found though in contrast to Gene’s thoughts that our reason can indeed lead us to Faith and doesn’t always have to be an enemy of it. GK Chesterton and CS Lewis both examples of this. Interestingly, when I attempt to provide an apologetic for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, including the writings of early church fathers etc, folks say, “it is not reasonable that Jesus handed the disciples his own body at the last supper” as Catholics believe. So I suppose Gene is right, sometimes one has to suspend human reason and as Thomas Aquinas said “see with the eyes of faith”. Someone referred me to a book you wrote about the reformation so I am looking forward to picking it up.

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