Lived Sense, a Part of Rational Experience

Ask me about Jeff as an auto mechanic, and my body-sense is a fell-pretty-good one. When my car breaks down, my body longs to get the car to him. I don’t start to feel right until I know it’s in his care. Then I relax.

Suppose Jeff began repeatedly to forget to pick up my car at the seminary, or the things I asked him to fix didn’t get fixed. The faulty symptoms change noticeably when he was supposed to have fixed something. Suppose I heard of his being mixed up in some shady dealings. Suppose his gas station started to look slovenly. I would be relying on my senses for all these experiences. I would also be growing an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. If you asked me about Jeff as an auto mechanic, I would get this feeling.

Is it too much of a stretch to say that we rely on bodily clues when we know God? I think not. Some people have thought religious experience was only mystical or irrational. I think bodily clues are included in our experience of God, and I don’t think of it as a mystical experience. For example, all of us have known moments of glory, brushes with transcendence, whether in sports or in music, mountains or sunsets, creative acts, childbirths, or acts of heroism. Those experiences have a bodily dimension to them. We are caught up, transported. Something in us cries out for transcendence, as our fingers might itch to touch velvet, or our feet to dance to Scott Joplin. To what do these body longings point?

Meeks, pg. 93

And later, pg. 106

I hope you see that I mean to challenge this time-honored but false and unfortunate dichotomy. We trust our parents, we trust the nurse, we trust the Magic Eye directions, we trust the auto mechanic, we trust the piano teacher, we trust Scripture. If you like, you may call it faith. but you must call it faith when the topic is breast-feeding or golf or auto mechanics just as it is faith when the topic is God. We must also see that this is the stuff of reason. What is part and parcel of any human act of knowing we would do well to call rational, and just plain common sense. It’s reasonable for me to trust Jeff. It is in the same way reasonable for me to trust Scripture.

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