Reason, Faith, & Politics

Robert Kraynak

Hertog Foundation | 2014

This seminar will explore the relation between the two highest kinds of knowledge—reason (in the form of philosophy and science) and faith (in the form of divine revelation and theology). We will examine some thinkers who claim that reason and faith are incompatible, requiring an either-or choice because they cannot be synthesized, and other thinkers who claim that the two are compatible and can be reconciled in a harmonious whole in which reason is perfected by faith.

After exploring the relation of reason and faith, we will examine the political teachings of divine law, natural law, and practical reason as they are found in several writings—including the Bible as well as selections from St. Thomas Aquinas, Emil Fackenheim, Reinhold Niebuhr, Martin Luther King, Jr., and papal encyclicals. We will consider what form of government and what kind of social and economic institutions are required by divine and natural law, and also which regime—kingship, theocracy, or liberal democracy—is most compatible with the teachings of divine and natural law.

Detail from Raphael, Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, 1509-1510