The conflict between faith and reason, the intellectual and the spiritual, is something so intertwined with the current culture wars. One might think that conflict is a modern invention. But this is a battle fought throughout the ages, going back to medieval times and before.
The Saint vs. the Scholar: The Fight Between Faith and Reason by Jon M. Sweeney chronicles a particularly interesting incident in the age-old war between faith and reason. It is the story of the medieval intellectual battle between two men. On one side, Peter Abelard, a philosopher and theologian who hails from the “reason” camp. On the other, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church, ably representing the side of “faith”. The story begins in 1140 at the height of the conflict, but then goes back in time to delve into the backstory of each of these influential men. The book closes with an in depth analysis of the difference between how these two men looked at the world, and perhaps more importantly, explores how much they had in common in matters of spirituality.
In our Catholic homeschool co-op, I teach a middle school class in logic skills. The idea is to spend a few years preparing these students to take a class in traditional logic prior to high school. We study the Doctors of the Church, learn about logical fallacies, and begin to ask some of the really hard question in life, such as “What is Truth?” I am thrilled to find a contemporary book that weaves these subjects together, and I am looking forward to sharing portions of this story with them in class. I found this book to be both readable and compelling, and was delighted to see this point in history come alive for modern times.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are mine alone. Affiliate links are used in this post.