His post brings up many thoughts, too many to try to discuss right now, however I will submit a quote from Josef Pieper from "Faith, Hope, Love": Pieper quotes Aquinas,
"In all belief, the decisive factor is who it is whose statement is assented to: by comparison the subject matter which is assented to is in a certain sense secondary." ... (Pieper goes on to say) To believe means: to participate in the knowledge of a knower...No argumentation, no matter how "compelling," can actually bring us to "believe" in someone else.I, for one, am all for debating and participating in intellectual discussions of religious beliefs, however when we are arguing Christian beliefs we must realize a different starting point, and like Gil has said,
Christianity is not a belief system, it is an encounter, an encounter with Christ, and for the most part, it is a mediated encounter, we encounter Christ in one another. We catch faith from one another, and then we learn about it. The doctrines are important, but that is not how we come to our faith.
[I bracket the following simply as a sideline comment. As to a discussion on substitutionary atonement theories from my limited Girardian perspective, I guess my take is that blood sacrifice was never meant to atone, to reconcile humans with God, but rather, that sacrifice was always part of the human attempt to eliminate violence. Jesus' death wasn't a sacrificial atonement, but God revealing once and for all the fallacy of the generative mimetic scapegoating mechanisms (GMSM) and revealing to us the roots of human violence and the ultimate failure of all of our methods to eradicate that violence. In fact, the method we have always used to eliminate violence, is shown to be an affront to God and only perpetuates violence, since the peace that is established can only be short-lived--the GMSM process embeds violence into the very structure of the society that uses it.]