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Process Philosophy and Christian Thought by Delwin Brown, Ralph James, Gene Reeves (eds.)


Delwin Brown holds degrees from Union Theological Seminary, New York, and Claremont Graduate School. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Anderson College, and Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at the School of Theology. Ralph E. James, Jr. attended Emory and Drew Universities. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at North Carolina Wesleyan College. Gene Reeves holds degrees from Boston and Emory Universities. He has taught at Tufts University and is now Professor of Philosophy at Wilberforce University. This book was published in 1971 by The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. It was prepared for Religion-Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams


Chapter 8: Psychological and Ontological Perspectives on Faith and Reason by Don S. Browning


Reprinted from The Journal of Religion, XLV (October 1965). Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press and Don S. Browning. Don S. Browning was educated at the University of Chicago where he is now Professor of Pastoral Theology in the Divinity School.


This essay will attempt to discuss the relation of faith and reason. At the outset, it recognizes as fundamental the Protestant idea that reason, starting from outside the circle of faith, cannot work its way to an affirmation of the central Christian truths. This is so, not because reason is without access to sufficient data that point to these truths, but because reason is never unencumbered by sin so that it can appropriately handle the data available to it. Our discussion will be guided by the following question: If Jesus Christ overcomes the distortions of sin, at least to the point that reason can acknowledge the grace and providence of God, is it then possible to move beyond the confines of the circle of faith for further witness to and verification of the faith?

It is the intent of this essay to bring together resources from psychology and ontology in an effort to clarify the relation of faith and reason. Although the ontological resource will be more the fundamentally clarifying tool, there are two psychological constructs that I intend to set into the context of my onto-epistemological position as supplemental. These constructs deal with the "self-concept" and the structure and dynamics of the "therapeutic relation."

The problem of the relation of faith and reason can be stated as follows: What is the relation between those certitudes man gains through his ability to specify, abstract, and manipulate reality through certain publicly verifiable symbolic forms and those certitudes man gains through commitment to truth claims, be they religious or otherwise, which do not readily submit to clear and distinct symbolic specification or easily attainable public verification? Truth claims that seem to be specifiable in that they lend themselves to public verification are often called matters of reason. Truth claims that do not readily submit to public verification are often called matters of faith.

In the context of Christian theology, the problem of faith and reason asks this question: What is the relation between the certitude that God enters into a saving relationship with man (most effectively and uniquely in the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth) and those certitudes that seem to spring from manís commonly held ability to abstract and verify the forms of events and processes in the world? In brief, we will be inquiring into the structure of faith and the structure of reason and their interrelation, if any.

Ontological and Epistemological Considerations

Two basic questions, one ontological and the other epistemological, must be dealt with before the relation of faith and reason can be properly addressed. The ontological question is: What is the relation of God to the world? The epistemological question is: What is the relation of symbols to reality? My position will assert that there is a participative relationship between symbols and reality and a participative relationship between God and the world. Hence, the ontological and epistemological questions converge in the concept of participation or what Dorothy Emmet calls "rapport."

Miss Emmet develops her epistemological position with a special interest in retaining the concept of "reality" or "real things" as a necessary dimension of our philosophy of science. She opposes idealist thinkers, such as Cassirer and Eddington, who suggest that the concepts of "things" and causality" are no longer important for scientific purposes. Emmet makes a distinction between the adverbial and the accusative modes of perception. The adverbial mode is an integral feeling, qualifying a state of experience."1 It is a physiological response to the energetic shocks from our physical environment. This physiological response sets up affective tones or bodily feelings which constitute the subjective forms of the energetic processes transmitted to us from our environment. The accusative mode of perception abstracts and differentiates certain simplified symbolic forms from the affective responses of the adverbial mode and, in turn, projects these forms onto the external environment.2

Basic to an understanding of these two modes of perception is her concept of rapport or preanimistic relatedness. Emmetís concept of rapport points to a basic "continuity of our functions and activities with those of the environing world."3 She believes, with A. N. Whitehead, that the human organism "is part of a dynamic system of nature, a field of energetic processes of which the cerebroneural events are terminals."4 This vague sense of interpenetrating processes constitutes the raw material out of which adverbial perception arises and is the basis for our naive confidence that our perceptions refer to something "real" in the external world.

At the adverbial level of perception the continuity of functions between us and the world is felt as patterned qualities. The adverbial mode of perception must be understood as a response, a response that has some identity or correspondence with the patterned processes playing upon the organism but that, at the same time, is not unambiguously reproductive of these energetic activities.5 Even though some originative activity may occur at this primitive level of physiological responsiveness, it is holistic in nature. It is a response of the whole organism to events in their full qualitative richness. The major abstractive and originative processes tend to occur in the accusative mode of perception.

The accusative mode of perception should be understood as a mode of construction. It differentiates the affective responses of the adverbial mode and abstracts simplified, streamlined symbolic forms from the original affective response. These forms or constructs may appear as sense or sensation such as "green" abstracted from our experience of "becoming greened."6 In turn, the form "green" is projected on to the spatially extended world giving us the concept, perhaps, of a "green tree" instead of a "tree greening us," which, in the adverbial mode, is what we are really experiencing. It should be noted that although perceptions in the accusative mode are simplified and abstracted from the more qualified and holistic perceptions of the adverbial mode, they can still be said to have a participative relation with the organismís response and the energetic processes to which this response, at least in part, conforms. Only at a later and more refined level in the symbolic process can it be said that symbols become arbitrary and have no inherent or participative relation to the processes they symbolize. At this level, they are called "signs."7

The Philosophy of Science

Before we can understand how Emmetís onto-epistemological position feeds into her philosophy of science, we must investigate her concepts of experience, inference, and transcendence.

Emmet defines experience to include both adverbial perceptual experience and accusative perceptual experience, that is, both the process of feeling or experiencing data and the process of ordering this data.8 As was indicated earlier, experience at the accusative level is always a construct of experiencing or feeling at the adverbial level. Or to put it differently, experience at the conscious or accusative level is always an inference built up from experiencing on the preconscious or adverbial level. (Preconscious, as I am using it, means unsymbolized.) Hence, our conscious symbolizations of the external world do not capture what these events are in and of themselves. They only represent an inference about what they might be in and of themselves based on how they seem to affect us at the level of adverbial experiencing. The basis of our symbolic representation of the event is our own response to it. Since the event, at least in part, forms the response, the event can be said to be in our experience, while at the same time, transcending our experience. To "symbolize the event" means to symbolize what transcends our experiencing on the basis of what is in our experiencing. As Emmet states, "indirect inferences as to the transcendent character of these events are built up from our responses to them."9

She says that this inferential procedure is basically an analogical process. All attempts to know the transcendent aspect of events must be thought of as analogical in character. Emmet defends the analogical process against charges that it is primitive and crude by saying:

But if we say that we need to keep the concept of "things" as a recognition of processes transcending our conceptual forms, and if we also allow that we have no direct knowledge of the intrinsic nature of these processes, we shall have to ask whether we are forced to try to conceive of them in concepts drawn by analogy from interpretations of experience.10

The planetary theory of atoms, the mechanical model, field theory, and organic models are well-known examples of interexperiential models constructed to represent realities partially transcending experience. The method of analogy rests on the assumption that there is at least a partial identity of structure between the qualitative pattern of the event and our response to it. If there is distortion between event and responses, it is, at least, Emmet suggests, a systematic distortion.11 The very progress of science demonstrates that this systematic distortion does not completely destroy our veridical comprehension of the structure of external events. Since there is at least a partial identity between these structures and our response, there is also at least a partial objectification of the external event in the adverbial response of the percipient. Hence, the possibility of the analogical method rests on the principle that in the concepts of rapport and adverbial response, ontology and epistemology meet. The analogy participates in the reality it represents. Further implications for what this means in terms of Godís relatedness to the world will be mentioned later.

Distortions in the Symbolic Process and the Relevance of the "Self-Concept"

With this ontological and epistemological framework in mind, let us investigate the various ways in which man fails to grasp symbolically the realities to which he is related. Our study will suggest that there are three ways in which symbolization can become distorted ó through processes of selection, abstraction, and protection.

Distortions of selection and abstraction have already been discussed. Selection is a process of ordering and valuating the data of experience according to some principle of relevance and operates at both levels of perception. In the organic responses of the adverbial level, selective processes operate according to what is relevant to the fulfilment of the organism as a whole.12 At the same time, although some selectivity may occur, adverbial responses tend to take the character of "total assertions" of the whole organism about the whole object it confronts.13 At the accusative level, or level of conscious symbolization, whole masses of irrelevant detail are excluded according to some principle of relevance operating in consciousness at the time. The construct of the "self-concept" will help us understand how the principle of relevance operates at this level.14

Processes of selection involve some abstraction because selection abstracts events out of their relational context. But more directly, abstraction refers to processes of simplification and differentiation. Simplification occurs when the full richness of the qualitative pattern is reduced to a symbolic form. Differentiation occurs when the molar richness of perceptions in the adverbial mode gain heightened discreetness in the accusative mode. Both differentiation and simplification largely occur in the transition between the adverbial and accusative mode. Definiteness, simplicity, order, and consciousness are gained; wholeness, richness, and vitality tend to be lost.15

To talk about distortions of protection, we must set the construct of the "self-concept" into the context of this theory of perception. But first, we must ask, what is the self-concept? Second, how does it arise? And third, how does it distort the symbolization of our perceptions? In brief, the self-concept distorts the symbolization process through mechanisms of protection. Let us now elucidate.

Carl Rogers makes a distinction between the total experiencing of the organism and the self-concept. The self or self-concept (they are actually interchangeable for him) is the center of the organismís awareness of its functioning and symbolized as "me," "I," or "mine."16 The self is the most dominating factor in consciousness and has great control over what and how experiences attain symbolization in awareness. But to understand how the self influences symbolization, we must ask how it develops.

Although Rogers believes that the self arises out of what Andras Angyl calls the "gradient of autonomy" (the infantís experience that certain things seem to be more under his control than other things),17 the elaboration of oneís self-evaluation generally reflects the "conditions of worth" introjected by the significant adults in oneís environment.18 The child tends to integrate the appraisals and conditions of worth of others into his own self-concept. In turn, the child may consider unacceptable any experiencing that contradicts the selfís conditions of worth and acceptability.

This inevitably leads to a distortion of symbolization. The self establishes defensive mechanisms designed to protect the validity of its conditions of worth. These protective devices operate by either (1) denying symbolization altogether or 12) distorting symbolization, that is, symbolizing the experience as something it is not.19 For example, what organismic valuational processes may feel as good or true may be symbolized as bad or false by the self. Or, of course, the reverse could be true. When disparity exists between organismic valuation twhat Emmet would call the "adverbial mode") and the selfís symbolization, incongruence with either neurotic or psychotic variations is said to exist.20 When severe incongruence exists between the self and organismic experiencing, symbolization does not participate in the realities to which they refer. This is typical for neurotic people. Their words seem to have a hollow sound. Their symbols do not participate in the depths of their adverbial experiencing.

If, as we will attempt to do later, some correlation can be drawn between the conditions of worth of the self and the Christian concept of sin, then a ground will be laid for demonstrating the relation of sin and symbolization (reason) in a more concrete way than is usually accomplished. In addition, if some correlation can be drawn between the valuational processes at the level of organismic or adverbial experiencing and what can appropriately be called faith, then the relation between faith, reason, and sin can be specified.

The Structure of Faith

I entered into the earlier long discussion on ontology and epistemology in preparation for submitting and testing the following assumption: Let us assume that the way we come to faith in God and come to develop symbolic expressions about relationship to Him is not fundamentally different from the way we come to have certitude about and develop symbolic specificity about our other relations. This assumption is simpler and more economical than the Kantian assumption which believes that our certitude and symbolizations about God are of a different order than those referring to other relationships.

Now that this assumption has been made, we must test it. To test it we must determine what sense can be made out of the idea of "faith in Godí when it is ordered by the onto-epistopsychological categories I have just set forth.

On the basis of this assumption it would follow that faith in God is grounded upon an experiencing of God in the adverbial mode of perception. Furthermore, it follows that all men experience or feel God at this level. Men are not divided between those who have this primordial faith and those who do not; they are divided between those who have symbolized their own self-concept around this primordial faith and those who have not. On the basis of our prior discussions, it can be said that coming to a knowledge about anything, be it God or other actualities, is a process of moving from depth (molar bodily valuation in the adverbial mode) to clarity (the abstracted definiteness of the accusative mode). Insofar as the more fundamental stage is characterized by total valuational responses about the good or bad, the better or worse, the trustworthy or untrustworthy, the operations of this stage are suggestive of what is commonly considered to be characteristic of faith. Faith, then, can be understood as a total valuational response to the qualitative structure of another actuality prior to any clear specification about what is in fact good or bad, trustworthy or untrustworthy about the other actuality. If this is faith, then all our cognitive operations involve a dimension of faith.21 Within this formula we can see how it is possible to assert that all men have faith (a molar adverbial response to God), although all men have not moved to sufficient or adequate accusative clarity about this faith.

What then is the structure of faith? Faith is (1) a total valuational response resulting from (2) a partial conformation of our feelings to the pattern of feelings or qualities of another actuality (3) with which we are in some way internally related or participatively connected.

First, faith is an unreserved or total assertion as opposed to a reserved, conditioned, or partial assertion based upon a balance of probabilities. It is a response of the whole organism to the qualitative essence of the whole object confronting us. For example, we might confront a man about whom we could make several positive partial assertions but feel on the whole that he was not a good or trustworthy man. Our total response to the man would not be a balance of probabilities between possible partial assertions about the man. Balancing probabilities takes us into a theoretical and analytic attitude foreign to the character of faith or adverbial responses that tend toward an unreserved "yes" or "no."22 Faith, understood as an unreserved "yes" as opposed to a balance of probabilities, is consistent with the Reformation view of faith. At the same time, a balancing of probable and partial assertions characteristic of accusative activity does have a place at later stages when articulation of the faith becomes the task at hand.

Second, faith is somehow self-transcending, or, as some theologians would put it, ecstatic. Although our adverbial perceptive activity is never completely without some selective influence, if our perceptive activity ever moves beyond our own self-structures, it is at the point of the adverbial mode of perception. The phenomenon of subception discussed by Rogers and selective inattention reported by H. S. Sullivan demonstrate that it is possible for the organism as a whole to conform to or experience events that the higher conscious processes will fail to detect.23 Hence, the inhibiting and habit-ridden structures of consciousness are transcended by perception in the adverbial mode. This leads us to assert the self-transcending or ecstatic character of the unreserved response of the faith-like adverbial valuations.

Third, faith is a total or unreserved response to or assertion about something with which we have a relationship. This response arises out of an interrelation of processes, a fundamental condition of rapport between ourselves and our environment. We cannot respond to that to which we are not related. I am suggesting that our understanding of faith in God be built on the same principle. There must be some kind of interrelation or internal relation between God and ourselves if we are to have a response to God. Assuming this interrelationship, it follows that our feelings about God are rooted in our participation in God or, to put it differently, Godís participation in us. It would also follow from this onto-epistemological stance that our feelings about God would have at least some continuity with the form of Godís feelings, that is, the form of the quality of His own life.

Faith, then, as was stated earlier, is a total valuational response to the qualitative structure of another actuality prior to any clear specification about the definite details of the other actuality. Insofar as this is true, all perceptive activity demonstrates something of the structure of faith.

The Structure of Reason

Let us now turn to the structure of reason. For the sake of simplicity it might be tempting to associate reason solely with the abstractive, discriminating, and simplifying function of the accusative mode of perception. But it seems more appropriate to also speak of "the depth" of reason by pointing to the fact that the valuational responses of the adverbial mode contain the forms that the accusative mode abstracts and gives distinctness. Reason in its entirety includes both depth and surface dimensions, although in modern times it has often been associated more closely with the accusative mode.24

Verification is often considered to be a matter closely associated with the processes of reason. Verification concerns whether a particular symbolic form abstracted in the accusative mode is adequately descriptive of the event to which it refers. Of course, this statement raises the question of the criterion used in the phrase "adequately descriptive." I will contend that a symbolic form or proposition is adequate to the events it is attempting to represent if it is internally coherent (the idealist position held by Eddington and Cassirer),25 externally coherent with other perspectives on the same events,26 and fruitful in such a way as to give rise to further observation.27 A satisfactory theory of verification must rely on all three. At the same time, it is my contention, as it would be Emmetís, that the validity of the first two must be based on the assumption underlying the third, that is, that our symbolic forms must be thought to refer to real "things" or events to which we must respond and to which we are related according to the concept of rapport.

The idea of internal functional coherence (the idealistís sole principle of verification) is based upon the assumption that there is no necessary connection between our symbolic forms and external reality. Hence, the concept of "things" and "causality" can be dispensed with.

The principle of external coherence asserts that the various scientific disciplines constitute different perspectives that center on the same data. Any one perspective is an abstraction and can never tell the whole truth about the event being studied. Hence, the validity of one perspective depends upon the extent to which its propositions cohere with the propositions of perspectives external to its own. Whitehead was aware of the importance of this principle for all scientific verification. It has been suggested for theological purposes by Daniel Day Williams.28

These two principles, when set within the context of the principle of fruitfulness as developed by Emmet, give a full and wholesome view of the process of verification. Symbolic forms are fruitful if they lead to further variations in our adverbial responses. Emmet writes, with regard to the use of analogical models, that their value "depends largely on how far they play back in suggesting further correlations and differentiations in our responses."29 We can say that by using this or that symbolic form or proposition "the processes beyond us are so differentiated as to produce these differences of response in us. We can only indirectly conjecture their intrinsic modes of interconnection from studying the minutiae of the distinctions of our own responsive sensations."30 Hence, verification is an endless circle of bringing the gross variations in our adverbial responses to clarity in the accusative mode and then using these more definite forms as guides for further experiencing and responsiveness in the adverbial mode.

If faith is closely related to the adverbial mode of perception, then faith may have an important role in keeping the higher symbolic processes in contact with reality, that is, the richer qualitative processes from which all experience arises. This suggests, once again, that faith is the depth of reason, and that verification involves reason in both its depth and surface dimensions. True, we have knowledge only when we have grasped a pattern of events with a high degree of symbolic definiteness. Some events do not yield to a high degree of symbolic specificity. But symbolic expressions referring to these events are not necessarily to be considered false. It only means that symbolic definiteness is more difficult to achieve with these events. It is my contention that matters of religious faith refer to events of just this character.

What does this position mean for religious discourse? Faith, when understood in its specifically religious context, refers to that total valuational response of trusting gratitude to our most fundamentally all-embracing relationship called God. From this response, then, we abstract forms with which we attempt to specify our experience of this relationship. When these symbolic forms remain at the level of dramatic imagery, faith is operating at the level of myth or confessional theology. When our symbolic forms begin to lose their dramatic quality and gain more precision, faith is operating at the level of scientific or philosophical theology. Simply because the datum "God" is more diffuse and complex than other more simple and finite structures, it does not mean that our experience of Him is unreal or that our attempt to symbolize this experience is meaningless.31 It only means that this datum does not submit to as high a degree of specification as other datum. Following Aristotle and Whitehead, it is unreasonable to expect a datum to submit to a more rigorous degree of specification than is appropriate to the complexity of the datum.32 At the same time, some religious discourse is more meaningful than other discourse, and it is precisely the task of theology to discover the most adequate symbolic forms using the three principles of verification outlined above.

Religious discourse also needs to concern itself with the other two principles, that is, it must be internally meaningful and externally coherent with other disciplines. The presupposition behind the principle of external coherence is that as there are surface and depth dimensions to reason, there are surface and depth dimensions to reality and that God objectifies himself in the depths of every finite structure as its ground. This means that an analysis of the structure and relations of any finite actuality should, at the same time, reveal intimations about the nature of its ground. Hence, the data of all disciplines are the same except for the difference that theology attends to both depth and surface dimensions of reality, whereas other disciplines tend to concentrate more on the surface aspects. But insofar as depth and surface dimensions of reality have some continuity with one another, specification of the structures of either should tend to cohere with the other. Hence, the principle of external coherence should be operative as a criterion of verification for religious discourse.

Sin and Distortions in the Symbolic Process

Earlier in the paper, three ways were mentioned in which the process of symbolization can be distorted. The first two processes, that is, distortions of selection and abstraction, seem to be inherent difficulties in the symbolic process. They seem to be the price we pay for clearness and distinctness. Distortions of selection and abstraction become demonic when they come under the domination of the third type of distortion in the symbolic process ó distortions of protection. Selection and abstraction are demonic when they become involved in the protective maneuvers of the selfís conditions of worth. One of the conditions of worth of the modern mentality is the drive for clarity and specificity referred to above. The relevance of this discussion of the self in the context of the problem of faith and reason stems from the basic religious intuition that reason is not free to know God because of its corruption by sin and that the seat of sin is somehow in the self. It is the contention of this essay that this intuition is fundamentally correct.

Earlier it was indicated that the protective and defensive activities of the self resulted in distorted or denied symbolization for those felt experiences that seemed to contradict the conditions of worth around which the self is organized. From the perspective of Christian theology, any attempt to base oneís worth or justification on something external to oneís original justification in God has been understood as sin. A growing body of New Testament exegesis is interpreting sin as a matter of setting oneís mind on "flesh" (sarx). Setting oneís mind on sarx is attempting to use the created world as the source and justification of oneís life. This is sin and idolatry because God is the sole source of both the means of life and the justification (worth) of life.33

Although Christians have seen their ultimate worth as derivative of their relationship to God, it is precisely the character of this relationship that there are no conditions of worth attached to it. This is the meaning of agape. It means that the giving of Godís love is not conditioned by the prior worth of the recipient. Manís sin is that he thinks there are conditions of worth and proceeds to organize his self around them, thereby estranging himself from all that seems to contradict these conditions of worth. From the perspective of the conditions of worth of manís sin, Godís free relationship, in which there are no conditions of worth attached, must necessarily appear as a threatening contradiction to the validity of sinís conditions of worth. The self can defend itself from its experience of Godís freely given relationship by denying it altogether or by distorting it into something it is not ó possibly a conditioned relationship.

An example of this can be seen in psychotherapy when the client may experience (subceive) the therapistís unconditioned acceptance at the level of organismic or adverbial feeling but, at the same time, perceive this unconditioned love as a threat to the selfís conditions of worth ó a threat that must be denied or distorted. Taking our clue from this, it is possible for us to understand how one might have an adverbial feeling of Godís unconditioned love but distort or deny it at the level of conscious symbolization because it contradicted the selfís conditions of worth.

In view of these statements, the meaning of revelation can now be stated. Revelation is not the manifestation of Godís love to those who are unrelated to it. Revelation, at least in terms of its subjective pole, is the emergence of our response to this love into conscious and appropriate symbolization. We have already hinted as to how important symbolization is. It is only through adequate symbolization that the self becomes integrated into the deeper feelings of the adverbial mode. Anything short of some adequacy of symbolization will mean that the self will be estranged from these feelings and, hence, to some extent, be estranged from God. Revelation is always a matter of bringing depth and surface into congruence with one another. Thus, revelation is always a matter of salvation. In order for the self to become integrated with Godís unconditional love, it must relax or repudiate the conditions of worth that are threatened by this love. The extent to which the self begins to do this is the extent to which the estrangement between self and the organismís deeper feelings about God is overcome. This is how revelation and salvation are equivalent.

But how must we understand revelation in terms of its objective pole? This is where the event of Jesus Christ must be considered. If sin is a matter of estrangement from our adverbial response to God because we have organized the self around certain conditions of worth taken over from the created world (sarx), it becomes clear that in order for the self to be redirected toward its own immediate adverbial response to God, it must be confronted by an unambiguous manifestation of Godís love in the realm of sarx toward which it is looking for its worth and justification. Oneís own adverbial experience of Godís unconditioned love may not penetrate the self and its conditions of worth because it is the very nature of sin to look to the created world for its justification and worth. A contingent manifestation of Godís love in the figure of Jesus Christ is a divine strategy to address man at the very point his distortion has fixated him, that is, in the realm of sarx. This is what it means to say that in Jesus Christ, God became flesh (sarx).

But the objective pole of revelation in Jesus Christ does not bring us into relation with a reality to which we were earlier unrelated. Jesus Christ is the particular and unique manifestation of a general ontological reality that has objectified itself into the depths of all adverbial experiencing. Through Jesus Christ we come into conscious and appropriate symbolization of our adverbial response to God. Because of the overdetermined preoccupation of sin with sarx, God must manifest his love in the realm of sarx before he can become the occasion by which we can be reunited with our own more immediate relation to him.34

But simply because the special nature of sin demands a contingent act on the part of God to overcome it, we must not conclude that we are dependent upon this contingent act for all further verification of our faith. Because of Godís general ontological relation to the world, what one becomes free to discern in Jesus Christ has an empirical validity which can transcend the biblical witness. This does not exclude the biblical witness; rather it means that the biblical witness, in fact, makes sense with the rest of reality. On the basis of this position, it becomes possible to come into dialogue with other positions, not just to learn what these disciplines tell us about the inauthenticity of the world, but also to learn a word of "revelation," that is, a word of truth about God. Without setting the problem of faith and reason in the context of some general ontology of events as has been done here, our dialogue can only be one-sided and imperialistic.

 

NOTES:

1. Dorothy Emmet, The Nature of Metaphysical Thinking (London: Macmillan, 1957), 42.

2. Ibid., 43.

3. Ibid., 64.

4. Ibid., 60. As is well known, Emmet is a leading Whiteheadian interpreter. Her distinction between adverbial and accusative perception is a clarification of what Whitehead referred to as "causal efficacy and presentational immediacy." Cf. Process and Reality, An Essay in Cosmology 255-279. I have chosen to use Emmetís formulation of these concepts primarily because her clarifications, and, I might add, simplifications, better lend themselves to the purpose of this article.

5. At this point it should be emphasized that I am following Emmet through this essay in her contention that the structural identity of correspondence between environmental processes and our feeling responses is not a one-to-one identity. According to her, novelty appears before as well as in conceptual transformation. Whitehead himself may have emphasized a more direct correspondence between the energetic shocks of the environment and our physiological response. Emmet, 61.

6. Ibid., 43.

7. Ibid., 58.

8. Ibid., 19.

9. Ibid., 86.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., 90.

12. Ibid., 42. In addition, a similar principle can be gleaned from the writings of Carl Rogers in his distinction between organismic experience and self-experience. When organismic experiencing is dominant, things tend to be valuated according to what is enhancing for the organism as a whole. Cf. Carl Rogers, Client-centered Therapy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951), 487.

13. Emmet, 141.

14. The reader should be cautioned that from here on I am not confining myself to an exposition of Emmet. Her thought will be used as a resource, but her concepts often will be woven into other sources as they take shape in my own constructive thinking.

15. Emmet, 43-46. Cf. Process and Reality, An Essay in Cosmology 255-279. Also see Bernard Meland, Faith and Culture (London: Allen & Unwin, 1955) 22-36.

l6. Rogers, 497.

17. Ibid., 498.

18. The construct of "conditions of worth" is a relatively new element in Rogerís theoretical apparatus. For a discussion of this concept see his most definitive theoretical statement, "A Theory of Therapy, Personality, Interpersonal Relationships, as Developed in the Client-centered Framework," Psychology: A Study of a Science, Sigmund Koch, ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1958), III, 224.

19. Rogers, Client-centered Therapy, 503.

20. Ibid., 515-531.

21. Scientific discourse has called these primitive judgments of importance and relevance "hunches," "intuitions," etc. But the close relationship between these phenomena and what religious discourse has called faith, has often been overlooked.

22. Emmet, 142.

23. For a discussion of the concept of subception, turn to Rogers, Client-centered Therapy, 507. For a discussion of selective inattention, refer to H. S. Sullivan, Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry (New York: W. W. Norton, 1953), 233-234.

24. The "depth of reason" is a term introduced by Paul Tillich in his Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), I, 32. Tillich contrasts this with "technical reason." We have used Tillichís term in this essay in order to indicate what his categories, which must be understood within the context of a more classical metaphysics, might mean in the context of a so-called process onto-epistemological position such as Emmet represents. What I am calling the "surface" dimension of reason (the accusative mode) is roughly analogous to what Tillich means by "technical reason."

25. Emmet, 69.

26. Process and Reality, An Essay in Cosmology 15. In reality, Whitehead employs all three of these principles as would Emmet because of her general dependence on Whitehead. I have not found, though, a place where she explicitly mentions the principle of external coherence.

27. Emmet, 95.

28. Williams, "Truth in the Theological Perspective," Journal of Religion, XXVIII (October 1948), 242-254.

29. Emmet, op. cit.

30. Ibid., 95.

31. It has been the tendency of modern science to believe that that which does not submit to clear and distinct specification (by which is generally meant clear and distinct experimental results according to certain laws of probability) cannot be intelligently dealt with and, therefore, either does not exist or should not be taken seriously. But such an overemphasis upon the clear and distinct at the expense of the deep and complex should not be considered a fundamental challenge to the validity of religious experience or the meaningfulness of religious discourse. Cf. Meland, op. cit., p. 27.

32. Process and Reality, An Essay in Cosmology 11. Also see Aristotle, "Ethica Nicomachea" in Basic Works of Aristotle, Richard McKeon, ed. (New York: Random House, 1941), 936.

33. Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, trans. K. Grobel (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1959), 232-246.

34. Since Soren Kierkegaardís emergence as a significant force in contemporary Protestant theology, there has been a spirit that has tended to minimize Godís real ontological relation to the world and to man. Kierkegaard repudiated the idea that Jesus Christ was the occasion through which we reclaimed an appropriate adjustment of our lives with God. He opposed the Socratic doctrine of recollection because it implied that man had a prior knowledge of God which the historic event of Jesus Christ only awakened. To his thinking, this reduced the crucial character of the historic Christ event. Cf. Philosophical Fragments, trans. David Swenson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958), 5-28. As long as Kierkegaard had no model with which to work but the Socratic doctrine of recollection, we can understand and appreciate his point. The metaphysic we are advocating is not susceptible to the same difficulties. With this metaphysic, man has no independent source of his knowledge of God that he "owns" and that must be awakened by some objective historic event. Instead, man is always dependent upon the ever constant inflow of Godís ontological relationship in the depths of his adverbial experiencing. The event of Jesus Christ then makes it possible for man to adjust his historic ego (his self) to this ever newly objectified datum deep in his adverbial experience. In this system the crucial character of the historic Christ event is preserved as well as Godís general ontological relation with the world.

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