MrC has a bit of a funny position in the great scheme of things, balancing on the edge of Catholicism and liberalism and extremists on both sides take pot shots at the cat on the fence!
So I always try to read stuff with a mind of acceptance, and then analysis.
I read the above letter with some devotion and hopefully with a critical mind.
What is missing in this piece, imho, is an acknowledgement that the revelation of truth through ‘rational’ thought is not contradictory to faith. Only if that faith is pickled in some preservative can the Pope(s) uphold a view that the light of reason is dimmed by the light of faith.
“that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.”
This view can be challenged by liberal thought, (liberal insofar as it accepts the light of reason as being valid in argument, theological and spiritual) because one can believe that science and reason illuminate the nature of God.
Two things come to mind.
The first affirms this belief. That all light points to God and that these ‘lights’ cannot be contradictory because that would imply a house that is divided. Mark 3:25 “… if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
The second is that in Christ we have the full revelation of the nature of God. One might infer from this statement that truth reached through modern reason somehow stands in opposition to the truth revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
However one can argue that the full revelation that we have been given in the person of Jesus Christ is all that is needed for salvation. This belief does not automatically preclude new revelations about the nature of creation or the physics of the cosmos, the workings of the human mind or the human body, and everything else that modern rational investigation has shown to us being acceptable to us as truth.
One is about salvation whilst the others are about the fruits of the tree of knowledge. For MrC they both exist in unity and they are both part of that same light that we see in Him and through the workings of the Holy Spirit.
The real challenge for Christianity, and more specifically for the established Churches is accepting both and reworking superstitions and misconceptions that have over painted the light that is from God. These are often fondly held moral views or modes of praxis that are rendered unworkable in the light of that reasoned light.
The trappings of how we do things and what we think of as being morally true are continually focussed by the gifts of reason and that should be embraced by Christians and traditions that are fondly held may have to be abandoned. This should not shake our faith, for if we do believe that Jesus Christ is the full revelation of the nature of God’s relationship to humanity then we should also believe that this revelation will be in agreement with all truth; theological, spiritual and scientific.
Until we have the maturity of faith to appreciate the Light of Christ in all truth we are condemned to darkness, or at least to the dim shadows.