The Pilgrim’s Pensieve #5

The Question Remains

A couple of months ago something new happened at church. Instead of the usual preaching the entire church participated in a discussion on marriage. We had been looking at the topic during our morning Bible study in the weeks before. As we were discussing the matter someone had a question. The elder leading the tried to give an answer but the questioner was not satisfied. Another elder tried and still that answer too was unconvincing. In the end the questioner was told that after the service they would explain things better to him. I guess a lot of people were alright with the answers that were given and the questioner was looking like a bit of a nuisance. He had to be quickly shooed of before he caused more trouble.

As I saw what was going on I realised he had valid points and the responses were not really convincing. His questions had not been anticipated, they were not in the outline, it had not been considered in the teachers’ preparatory study. When we study passages of the Bible we tend to look at them in only a certain way dictated by what we have heard from the pulpit. When we begin to probe, to ask questions, we entertain the possibility of new depths of understanding.

However, like our questioner, when we raise these issues there is often a murmur in the pews. Who is that person that refuses to understand? Pastor has spoken and it is certain, who is he to challenge our trained and more experienced leader? We even have these same doubts when such questions appear in our hearts, sometimes we do not have the courage to voice them out.

Children ask about things so they can find their way through this strange world. The questions persist but in different forms as we grow. It isn’t just a matter of logic and argument which makes it important to probe into things, even though they are very important reasons themselves. If we have been born anew, if our world has been completely changed, it is only natural for us to wonder about things this good news.

When we look in the scriptures from ancient times we see people grappling with various issues. Whether it is Job, Habakkuk or Paul the people of faith had questions and sought out answers. Asking questions is not inimical to Christian teaching.

Humans are the only earthly creatures that ask questions because that is how we make sense of the world. If we do not fully understand the old world, how do we possibly understand the new creation? The need to ask is even more acute where we confront the overlap of the old and new as God brings to pass a new order, his kingdom on earth.

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