Our Story

How it all started...

Why Faith & Reason Ministries?
When thinking of names for a Christian ministry, why would a name such as Faith & Reason Ministries be chosen?  After all, that is hardly a common sort of name for a Christian ministry.

First and foremost, much prayer was involved when considering a ministry name.  During that time, three scriptures in particular came to mind.  First, Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV).  Second, Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as 
white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (NIV).  Third, 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV).  Thus, faith and reason are both important in the scriptures, and therefore both are included in our name. We soon discovered that the name puts us squarely in the middle of a heated debate.  We found a number of Internet sites that insist that reason is not only strongly opposed to faith, but even defeats it.  Simply stated, many maintain that one cannot have both faith and reason – one must choose either one or the other.

A few of the cited quotes:

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.  Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”  Richard Dawkins
“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”  Benjamin Franklin
“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”  Mark Twain

Yet, the scriptures themselves do not place faith and reason in opposition to each other.  Jesus, himself, noted that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27).  Thus, Jesus commands us to use our minds to think about, and love God.  Further, Paul declares in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV).  Also, as Proverbs 23:7 indicates, as a man thinks, so he is.  The scriptures make it very clear that thinking and reasoning are important, and one can make the case that they even assume that we will think and reason.  The key is not thinking and reasoning per se, but rather, what we think and reason about, “think about these things”.

Various Internet sites also cite quotes by Martin Luther in order to seek to prove that the Church is against all forms of reason.  Of course the Church would be against reason, since reason is against faith – or so the argument goes.  Two key quotes: first, “Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding;” and second, in various versions, “Reason is the devil’s whore.”

Again, the issue is not the act of thinking and reasoning.  Rather the issue is how one thinks, and the place one assigns to thinking and reasoning.  Given the frequent use of Luther’s comments, it is worth taking a bit of time to place Luther’s views in historical context.
During the late Middle Ages, there arose within some quarters of the Church what became known as the Scholastic Movement.  The Scholastics (Thomas Aquinas would be a foremost example) generally maintained, contrary to scripture, that when we rebelled against God and sinned, unlike all the other aspects of our lives, somehow our ability to think and reason was not severely impacted.  It was maintained that a man, on his own, strictly by using his natural ability, could think and reason his way to faith in Christ.

The scriptures indicate something very different

Romans 1:21 indicates that when we chose to not glorify God or give thanks to him, our thinking became futile.  Since our thinking has become futile, we cannot reason our way to God.  God even goes so far as to circumvent and frustrate natural human reasoning.  1 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV), “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”  The problem rests with depending on human reasoning and philosophy in order to reach God.  Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (NIV).

Luther, in agreement with the scriptures, was opposed to the unbiblical elevation of human reason as advocated by the Scholastics.  What Luther was getting at is summarized quite well in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (at the time of writing “apology” meant “defense”).
Here the scholastics have followed the philosophers.  Thus they teach only the righteousness of reason… and maintain that without the Holy Spirit reason can love God above all things (Tappert, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, in The Book of Concord, 108.).

Yet, in contrast, Romans 8:5-9 indicates that any person relying on his or her natural sinful mind cannot please God.  Indeed, if that person does not have the Holy Spirit, that person is not even saved.  No one can even come to Jesus unless the Father draws him (John 6:44).  We were dead in our sins, and it is God that made us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).  Quoting the Apology of the Augsburg Confession again, “John 8:36 says, ‘If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.’ Therefore reason cannot free us from our sins or merit for us the forgiveness of sins” (Ibid., 111).

In brief, it is God the Son that frees us, not our own human reason.  Apart from God we are dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1), and being dead, we cannot effect spiritual change.  To insist that we really do have the power to free ourselves ultimately becomes a form of idolatry, as we then place ourselves above God, and against what He has declared about us, and our condition. Again, we see that the problem is not with reason, but rather, with reasoning apart from God, with elevating our ability to think and reason above God.  By biblical definition, that type of reasoning is done with a darkened mind, a mind that cannot please or submit to God.  To a darkened mind, faith makes no sense, as the quotes given above make clear.  Indeed to the natural mind, a mind that rejects faith, opposing faith and reason makes “natural” sense.

On another level, this supposed strong disproving of faith is little more than an affirmation of what one has already decided.  If a person has decided that reason is real, but faith is not real, it is hardly a surprise when that person concludes that reason and faith are opposed to each other, and that reason disproves faith.  Holding that faith is simply “what ain’t so” hardly represents an honest evaluation of faith.  Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 4:18 throws things in a very different light, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (NIV).
At Faith & Reason Ministries we do encourage people to think.  Honest questions are definitely welcome and encouraged.  Being ready to give a reason for our faith (1 Peter 3:15) presupposes that someone is either asking, or going to ask, questions about it.  As we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, neither faith nor reason is to be neglected.

What to Expect

On Sundays we meet from 9:45a.m. until 11:45a.m. We begin with a potluck, announcements, a time of prayer and worship, followed by the reading of Scripture.  Typically there will be additional prayer and worship, followed by the teaching and then concluding with worship. We regularly include communion and baptism. Children’s activities normally occur at the same time as the adult activities. The children will on occasion join the adults for the first prayer and worship time before moving to their own area. They will then have prayer and a Bible lesson followed with fun activities. The children often rejoin the adults at times of communion or baptism.
On the first Friday of the month men meet at 5:30 at the church to watch a movie typically from Hollywood.  Afterwards we critically think about what the screenwriter & director were communicating including any “less obvious” messages in favor of or against the teachings of God in His Word, the Bible.  
On the first Friday of the month ladies meet at 6:30 in the home of deacon Rebecca Kinder for tea, elegant food & fun, and a woman’s study such as the current series a Woman After God’s Own Heart.  
On the second Wednesday of the month all are welcome as Pastor James Walraven takes us chapter by chapter through the Bible with deep discussion discussions and engaging conversation.
We sometimes have additional social activities such as potlucks and all church field trips.  We celebrate many holidays of the traditional church calendar as well as the most common American holidays.
We do follow the Biblical command in Matthew 28 to make disciples.  We desire to have community outreach and we will host VBS, 5 Day Clubs, camps, etc.  We will partake in public performances such as concerts and dramas.
We will perform weddings, funerals, and other spiritual actions as directed by Scripture.  We offer counseling as needed.
We support missionaries, both local and international.