Summary: Jesus created a questioning community. We must ask questions in order to get better answers. If we settle for "pat" answers everyone loses.
Please e-mail me with any comments or if you use any part of this at your church at Mail4ChrisR@aol.com. I would love to hear about it. God Bless! - Chris
We are all theologians. You don’t need to take a theology class at seminary to be a theologian. We all have beliefs about God. Even atheists have a theology. Theology is a system of beliefs and thoughts one holds regarding God and God’s interaction within our lives. Perhaps, someone might say my theology is ridiculous. Perhaps, my theology is grounded in something reckless or beyond belief. Regardless, after much study, prayer, and discussion with other Christians I have formed a system of beliefs that I stand on. Yet, it is not beyond questioning.
In fact, it is by asking questions that I have continued to form my theology. As I child I am sure I drove my Sunday school teachers crazy with all kinds of strange questions about God, Jesus, and Biblical stories. Some of the answers that I received were challenging and some shallow. As I have continued to ask questions, my childhood theology has shifted and now I can better articulate my system of beliefs and thoughts – my theology.
Hopefully, we all ask questions about God and the mysteries of the Christian faith. Questions help us think through some of the answers that we have been given all our lives. Questions help us examine our beliefs and ourselves. Questions are good because we have tendency to love answers. We all want answers to our questions. We are uncomfortable with uncertainty. We get antsy when questions are left unanswered. However, our desire for answers often leads us to settle for something less than the whole truth about the character and community of our God. So many pastors and churches offer “pat” answers. They believe their quick answers will end your questioning. Yet, those answers might not be good enough for you. They may not even address your specific questions.
It has been my experience that questions will either make me stretch to find a better answer or questions will reinforce the answer I already held. Either way, by asking questions about even the basic tenants of my faith I am better off for it.
I think Jesus knew the importance of asking questions. Jesus constantly asked questions. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is recorded to have asked 89 questions; in Matthew, 85; and in Mark, 47. When reading through the Gospels, you will encounter one question after another. Many of these questions were questions in response to a question.
As you read through Mark, for example, you will encounter only a few occasions when Jesus did not answer the challenging questions of his rivals or disciples with a question. Often he would never answer their questions. He would leave them with their questions. And he rarely explained his parables to the crowds. Pastor and Author Stephen D. Jones writes, “Jesus shaped a questioning community, where his closest disciples felt very comfortable asking him questions and receiving his questions.”
This is the role of theology. Theology is a mystery and it should be. The mystery is the gift, “All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery!” (Col. 2:3, The Message). We have been given a mystery, not easy answers.
We should be cautious of “easy” answers to tough questions. We should seek deeper understandings of what we think as individuals and as a community. Most importantly, we should never be afraid to ask, “WHY?” As we settle for answers we stop growing. Our relationship with God becomes stale. Our worship becomes predictable and routine. The fellowship in our community withers away. It is imperative that we ask questions.
I cannot imagine what my relationship to my wife would be like if after the first year of dating or even the first couple years of marriage we stopped asking each other questions about one another. Having been together nearly 10 years I can still learn something new about Renee by asking questions.
By asking “why?” to even the most significant or “understood” of Scripture, tradition, experience or logic, we will stretch and grow. We can either learn something new about our theology or reaffirm something old about our beliefs. As Rev. Jones says, “We will find that God is not only in the answers, but also in the questions.”