Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, grab a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: What role do tradition and reason have in our theologies?

The Main Questions


  • How would you define “tradition” in the context of theology and Christianity? What is it and what is it for?
  • Can tradition be a source of knowledge about God? If yes, how so? If not, why not?
  • Name a traditional thought/idea/practice of Christianity and answer the following questions:
    • Do I appreciate this tradition? Why/why not?
    • Do I dislike this tradition? Why/why not?
    • Is Christian theology impossible without this tradition? Why/why not?
  • What are the limits of tradition for informing how we do theology?


  • What does it mean for something to be “rational” or “reasonable”?
  • Can reason be a source of knowledge about God? If yes, how so? If not, why not?
  • Can theology be reasonable? If not, why can’t it be so? If yes, should it be so?
  • What are the limits of reason for informing how we do theology?
  • Are tradition and reason antithetical sources of authority in theology? Why or why not? 

Important Scripture

  • Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you // 1 Corinthians 11:2
  • The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. // 2 Timothy 2:2
  • These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. // Deuteronomy 6:6-7
  • For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, / And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? // 1 Corinthians 1:18-20
  • “Come now, and let us reason together,” / Says the Lord, / “Though your sins are as scarlet, / They will be as white as snow; / Though they are red like crimson, / They will be like wool. // Isaiah 1:18
  • because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. // Romans 1:19-20

Thoughts from Others

  • Faith is believing what you know ain’t so. // Mark Twain
  • Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. // Pope John Paul II
  • Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things. // Martin Luther
  • The true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but men of tradition.” // Pope St. Pius X
  • To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. // Thomas Aquinas
  • Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. // G.K. Chesterton
  • Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. // Voltaire
  • Life is a battle between faith and reason in which each feeds upon the other, drawing sustenance from it and destroying it. // Reinhold Niebuhr
  • The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason. // Benjamin Franklin
  • No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. // T.S. Eliot