Allowing space in the Church for Questions

"What is God doing in my life or in this world!?" is not an uncommon question.  People ask it all the time, and right we should!  Questions are a part of being human, of reaching out to God, of seeking to answer our anxt when fairness, justice, love, truth and goodness seem inscrutable.

Next week The River begins a four-part series on 'Questions We Ask', looking at 'what is the purpose of life and my life imparticular?' (this Sunday March 14), 'what is justice and where is it?' (March 21), 'what is truth and how can we know it?' (Mar 28) and 'are miracles real and who says?' (April 4 -- Easter).

I am SOOOOO excited about this series for many reasons. One is that we need to be reminded that God is very much OK -- even involved -- with our answer-seeking!  Read the book of Ecclesiastes, or Job, and see how God desires that we seek Him out!  But secondly,I'm excited because the CHURCH needs to be as excited as God is with spiritual questioning.  Otherwise, if all of us are asking the questions but the Church is not willing to deal with such questions, the Church is not where people are; we are 'out of touch'.  Finally, I am excited for some questions to be answered, and some to remain unanswerable!  I believe this will clarify for us what can be known and what can't versus either NOTHING being knowable OR everthing being clear.

For example, I am slowly preparing for ordination exams.  The frustrating part of such exams is the amount of material there is to review:  church history, Bible, theology, ethics, Book of Common Prayer, polity and so forth.  However, I noticed a big difference in my own confidence when last week I went from "I DON'T KNOW what I don't know" to "I KNOW what I don't know"!  When I saw this transition happen, I grew in confidence of what I KNOW that I KNOW while having a comfort level with what I did NOT KNOW (as well as what I will probably never know (because I don't have time to study it))!

In the same way, part of wisdom is to be clear on what we CAN know, and what in this life we CANNOT.  This will increase our confidence level in what we know and also give us comfort with what God has left as dubious.  READ THESE NEXT LINES TWICE!  People who dogmatically espouse either complete unknowability OR all-knowingness (I believe) create a god of their own making; either a God who cannot competently communicate who He is (certain religions and belief systems such as deconstructionism, radical postmodernism, etc -- a bit ironic, isn't it that a GOD couldn't correctly say what He is) OR a God who is so tied to our predictions and our own making that He ceases to be God (the dangers of radical fundamentalism, humanism and naturalism).

I pray, trust, and diligently believe that God will clarify for us what is knowable from that for which we must wait to see Him face to face.  I hope you can find a person or a place that will accept you for who and where you are; yet a person or place that loves you too much to not lead you to Surety beyond where you can go alone.

jt