I love my son. He is a bright and inquisitive little guy. Like any three-year-old, he asks a ton of questions, and I love when he asks spiritual questions. It makes my heart glad to share these things with him. But this particular conversation got me thinking. Why don’t I ask more questions?
It’s uncomfortable to admit I am often too worried about my image to ask a question. Asking a question can be a humbling act. It is an admission that I do not know something, and too often, I try to uphold an illusion that I am more knowledgeable than I really am.
What is most disappointing is my shortcoming includes spiritual questions, and I am not alone. Somewhere along the way, our Evangelical culture began to frown upon asking questions. As good Evangelicals, we are expected to have our faith and theology all buttoned up. We may be exempt from this expectation for a short time after our confession of faith, but we will learn quickly that questions are out of bounds.
Asking questions can reveal personal doubts. And in a culture that raises faith above all things (perhaps even higher than actually following Jesus), doubt is about as unforgivable a sin as there is. Of course, doubt is not really an unforgivable sin. I love what Willard has to say about doubt. “Doubt is a good thing… Until you have your answers in response to a doubt, you don’t have a bucket to hold your answer in. It’s the doubt that gives you a place to receive your answer.”
We have also seen too many Christian teachers ridicule people with different theological opinions. Typically, the theology in question isn’t even unorthodox. These men (I’ve never seen a woman pastor do this.) are mocking brothers and sisters who hold different opinions on debatable topics such as apostolic gifts or eternal security. But even when addressing false doctrine, is ridicule the best course of action? Perhaps we would create a culture more open to questions if we acknowledged theology as a tricky business and chose to teach rather than making jokes at another’s expense for a cheap laugh.
Questions are am important part of the development of our faith. Questions, whether born from doubt or theological inquiry allow us to learn and to grow. They allow us to lean into community, the community around us and the great community of saints who have gone before us. I for one am going to choose to ask more questions, and be more accepting of those asking questions. Will you join me?