Tue 29 Aug 2006
questioning and doubt
Posted by Simon under thoughts on theology
I firmly believe that there is space in life for doubt and definitely for questions.
Without pumping out scripture references we read of questioning and doubt first up in the garden. God even questions himself about creating man before the flood. Abraham questions God re: changing his mind about destroying Sodom. Moses tries and get out of an important speaking engagement with Pharaoh by doubting his ability to speak and therefore, God’s ability to use him. David takes a census. In the NT the disciples doubt multiple times, including Thomas. Depending on your theology, Jesus even questions God as to his plan for crucifixion in the garden and on the cross. etc. . . .
For me doubt is a hint that I am not privy to all information. It’s not an indication of a lack of faith - rather it is proof that such faith exists, no matter how feeble a condition in may be in.
In some ways I was fortunate in that most of my influencer’s as a person young in faith tolerated my questioning and ,from time to time, flat out doubt. Of course not being reasonable with questions often transforms into being overly critical, argumentative and negative. But I have been in churches where to question is equivalent to being faithless or even reprobate. (see Justin Taylors “An Emerging Church Primer“ for this).
There is a sense, especially as it plays out in ecclesiology, that we have forgotten why we do and say things in church - simply because it has been a long time since anyone asked! Euphemistically then, being reform-ative means to be able to re-cycle lived out truth.
Hamo recently recommended a book that he didn’t totally agree with, for the same reasons that I often do. Because being exposed to ideas and ideologies outside of our normal everyday sphere of influence can not only help us to learn, but also force us to question of own belief systems. That is, they force us to stop and think. Very rarely has this been a negative experience for me. At times it may have caused crisises, but the aftermath is almost always a better place to be in than I was before.