A Perfect Impression That Will Get You Thinking
So often within the Church we are almost taught to be afraid of questions, and we are definitely taught to be afraid of questioning our own beliefs. It is almost as if our beliefs are off limits and surrounded by caution tape. It seems that subconsciously we are afraid that if we question our beliefs, we will somehow find out that they are wrong. At least that has been my thinking sometimes. But if something is true, won't it be able to stand questions? It seems to me that only lies need protecting and that if we really think our beliefs are true then we should be open to having them questioned, as logically that would only make them stronger.
Again, I can't help from questioning. That is probably why I write and teach. It seems that a lot of writers and teachers are people who are established in the art of questioning. Questioning is something my parents ingrained into me and my siblings growing up. It is probably one of the more priceless gifts they gave us and it has helped us to grow and see the world in a fresh a new way every day, never taking the simple answers as the end of our exploration into deeper truth. The art of questioning things, especially the off limit things, is what has shaped me into the man I am today and continues to shape me into the man I will be tomorrow. I think it is important to ask questions because it teaches us to be students of life. It teaches us to always challenge ourselves to view the world with greater love and to learn new ways to live better. For me, to stop asking the important questions is to lose my zeal for life and to become stagnantto stop growingto die.
I understand the fear others have and the fear that I have in not wanting to question things about our faith or our world view. It feels safe to stay put in the realm of certainty and to be comfortable concerning the things we hold to be true. And yes, it is possible that questioning could lead one out of the safety net of ignorance and into the scary place of serious doubt. But I would suggest that it is actually more dangerous to not ask questions.
I can't help but imagine what it would be like if Martin Luther didn't doubt the Churchs way of doing things in his day. What would have happened if he didn't challenge the entire Churchs beliefs, doctrines, and dogmas? Would the reformation still have happened? Of course, Martin Luther surely made many mistakes along the way and went too far on many issues, but his challenging of the majority led to spiritual freedom for us today. It happened because he wasnt afraid to ask the important questions (much like many of us are asking the important questions today).
Or suppose what the world would be like if William Wilberforce didn't question the Churchs position on slavery? Would he have helped end the slave trade? His doubting was actually a step of faith because not only was he challenging the view of the majority of the Church, but he was challenging a view held by the majority since the beginning of Christianity. And not only that, but the church was using a plethora of pro-slavery Bible verses to combat him. Is this any different than the many people challenging the majority of the Churchs view of homosexuality today?
What of Galileo and his refusal to bow down to the Churchs primitive view of the universe? What would have happened if he didn't doubt the entire previous history of the Church in favor of modern science? Would science and technology be where it is now if he had stayed quiet about his discovery that the earth revolves around the sun? Galileo faced threats of death at the hands of the Church for his belief in this scientific discovery. And the Church wouldn't let go of the false belief that the sun revolved around the earth because the Bible said it did (or at least a literal reading of the Bible did). Is this any different than those Christians today trying to pull the Church into the 21st century with the subject of evolution?
What about Martin Luther King Jr? Where would we be at today if he didn't doubt the Church or the Christian beliefs of the majority? Would my black friends have to use different water fountains than me? What would have happened if he wouldn't have stood up to the people using the Bible as a proof text for segregation? He defied preachers and pastors and world leaders who we're using the scriptures as a basis for their racism and bigotry. He saw something different in the Bible. He looked past the obvious literal meaning of the text of scripture and found the trajectory of the heart of God, and he was killed because of it. Because of his questioning and doubting the status quo of his day and because he followed the leanings of his own heart by faith instead, we live in a better and comparatively more Christ-like world today.
All of these great heroes have shaped our world into a better place. And they all have a few things in common. They weren't afraid to follow the inner voice of the Spirit that led them past the literal meaning of scripture or the belief system held by the majority of their own religion. They weren't afraid to follow Jesus in His example even over the various other Biblical verses and examples. And they weren't afraid to question or to doubt either the Churchs beliefs or their own.
In a way, the world was changed by doubters: by those perfected in the art of questioning. Just looking back at history, the Church as a whole has always been one step behind on the issues of the day; it is always having to be dragged into the future, kicking and screaming, by a few brave questioners. This is unfortunate, and it requires an even greater love and understanding of the Church in order to help move her into the future with gentleness and kindness. It also requires us to be honest about our shortcomings on these issues as well and the dangers associated with holding on to obsolete and unhealthy views.
Historically speaking, it has never been the questioners that we're the dangerous ones; it has been those too afraid to ask questions, who are comfortable with the certainty of the current system, that have been the dangerous ones by holding back progress. It has always been doubting men and women asking questions that have moved the Church forward into a more peaceful, kind, and loving world. And I believe that there are many more questions that need to be asked. But they need to be asked with humility and in the context of conversation instead of argument, knowing that those trying to move the Church forward could be wrong as well.
The truth is the Church doesn't need fewer doubters. It needs more. We need more people brave enough to face their doubts, ask the tough questions, and stand up to the rest of us that are shouting scriptures at them in order to prove them wrong. We need more people following the Spirit of God guiding their heart; that are willing to lovingly defy those of us trying to hold the Church back. We need more people challenging us with sweetness and kindness. We need more people who will take part in the art of questioning.
Posted in Churches/Faith/Religion Post Date 06/16/2017