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Friday, July 30, 2010

Dare I Ask?

Why is it that you're not supposed to ask hard questions in church?

One of the themes of our class this week has been how important it is for us to ask and wrestle with tough questions about God and our faith. But, by and large, churches and other religious institutions (i.e. seminaries) have become places where you are expected to toe the line and nod in agreement. If you ask about something that might challenge orthodoxy, you are viewed as weak or a trouble-maker.

Our professor told a story about his first experience in seminary. Having an undergraduate degree in literature, he entered seminary with a different lens. In one of his first Bible classes, he realized that the story of Sampson and Delilah fit ALL of the historical parameters for a fable, and so he asked his professor about this. Rather than addressing the question or even acknowledging the tension, the professor blew him off and encouraged him to pray. This led to a fairly quick exit from seminary for our prof. (He says the second time around was much better.)

Here's the dilemma for me. We believe that God is truth and the source of all ultimate truth. So, when we start to ask really good questions, Christians should believe more than anyone else that this will lead us toward God. And yet most Christians fear that asking hard questions will lead us away from God.

I want to reject this. I want to reject that my faith only makes sense when I blindly follow what I have been taught. I need to believe that I can ask the hardest of questions, and if my motives are good, these questions will draw me deeper into the Father's heart.

So, I ask again: why are churches the last place where you can ask a hard question?

May you know today that faith is not belief in the absence of doubt, but clinging to God in the midst of it.

Peace-
Nick

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is "scary" to ask a "dumb" question. It feels like I'm exposing my ignorance of what the Bible teaches; what I'm "supposed to know". I guess part of it is pride, but "always already knowing" is a dangerous way to go, and growth can't happen while I pretend. Can our church family relationship be a place where there are no dumb questions? I'm wondering . . . Mary Hagle

Linda Grewelle said...

I have always had the theory that there is no dumb question. We all are learning as we go, some have just gone further along on the path. I surely don't have all the answers, but am glad to answer any question I can...or refer the asker to someone who can.

One thing that has helped me tremedously with Bible questions is Explorer's Bible Study, which I've attended for over 10 years. We study at home, discuss in class & hear a lecture. This is a non-denominational in-depth study.