“If we have to give up either religion or education,” declared populist and fundamentalist Christian William Jennings Bryan, “we should give up education.” It’s easy to scoff at such an absurdity, though Bryan, whatever his flaws, was defending Christianity from what he thought modernist, anti-faith attacks in American public education. Though many evangelicals today cringe at Bryan’s anti-intellectualism, as a convert from Protestantism, I discern a deeply problematic perspective in his uncompromising, either-faith-or-reason, worldview.
As Italian theologian Mauro Gagliardi argues in Truth is a Synthesis: Catholic Dogmatic Theology, Protestantism operates in an aut-aut (“either-or”) theological model that views truth in simplistic binaries. Catholic theology, in contrast, employs a principle of et-et (“both-and”) that synthesizes different realities. ….