“Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess players do… Perhaps the strongest case of all is this: that only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine… He was damned by John Calvin… Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion… The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits… The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason… Materialists and madmen never have doubts… Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have the mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.”

-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

“…not all men are in the same condition, and all are not led or disposed to a knowledge of the truth in the same way. For some are brought to a knowledge of the truth by signs and miracles; others, are brought more by wisdom. ‘The Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek wisdom’ (1 Cor. 1:22). And so the Lord, in order to show the path of salvation to all, willed both ways to be open, i.e., the way of signs and the way of wisdom, so that those who would not be brought to the path of salvation by the miracles of the Old and New Testaments, might be brought to a knowledge of the truth by the path of wisdom, as in the prophets and other books of Sacred Scripture.”1

-Thomas Aquinas

“The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the disenchantment of the world.”

-Max Weber

Perchance, too, philosophy was given to the Greeks directly and primarily, till the Lord should call the Greeks. For this was a schoolmaster to bring ‘the Hellenic mind,’ as the law was to the Hebrews, to Christ. Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ.2

-Clement of Alexandria

“At this point, as far as the understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: “In the beginning was the λόγος”. This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, σὺν λόγω, with logosLogos means both reason and word – a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (cf. Acts 16:6-10) – this vision can be interpreted as a “distillation” of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.3

Pope Benedict XVI,

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”4

-Pope John Paul II,

“Kant claims that he “found it necessary to deny knowledge of God, freedom and immortality, in order to find a place for faith.” But it is only a narrow, localized Lutheran culture which would use the word “faith” in the sense and set it up in opposition to reason. Faith is, in truth, rather a God-given gift, which enables us to accept the conclusions to which reason leads us, but before which we should otherwise have failed through failure in the imagination.”5

-Christopher Hollis

“The great Greeks did rightly use their reason to purify themselves of their superstitions, but reason did not lead them to the conclusion that rationalism was the explanation of all. It led rather to the conclusion that rationalism was insufficient.”6

-Christopher Hollis

“If we accept the truth of the Incarnation, it follows inevitably in logic that all other events in history derive ultimately their importance only from their relation to that supreme event. We accept this on faith.”7

-Christopher Hollis

“This book has most purposely avoided the discussion of modern politicians…Yet there is no remedy in the removal merely of this or that hated tyrant. These men are only able to exist because a secularized society, starved of its proper object of worship, has given itself in despair to the worship of folly. There is no remedy save in the abandonment of secularism, save in the re-emergence of the old religious man to take the place of the new secularist man. The ruin of the attempt to build human society apart from God lies now patent around us, and we have no alternative but to go back and ask again the questions which Aeschylus and Virgil asked, and learn again the answers which St. Augustine and Dante gave.”8

-Christopher Hollis
  1. Aquinas, Thomas, from his commentary on the Gospel of John as cited in Jones, E. Michael, Logos Rising, A History of Ultimate Reality, p. 189, Fidelity Press, South Bend, Indiana, 2020
  2. Translated by William Wilson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0210.htm.
  3. Regensburg Address, Lecture of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg, 12 September, 2006
  4. Encyclical Letter, “Fides et Ratio,” of the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the relationship between faith and reason, https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091998_fides-et-ratio.html
  5. Hollis, Christopher, Noble Castle, p. 8, Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Toronto, 1941
  6. Hollis, Christopher, Noble Castle, p. 81
  7. Hollis, Christopher, Noble Castle, p. 110
  8. Hollis, Christopher, Noble Castle, p. 216

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