A Culture of Questioning

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Today’s Sunday School discussion about the “watchman” passage in Ezekiel 3 frustrated me.

For one thing, Sunday School classes provoke some kind of odd warping of the time/space continuum. If the teacher is boring, time freezes in the presence of a black hole of active learning.  Give me an interesting teacher, and time runs past like a sprinter, carrying far more than his allotted share of minutes from the clock. One or two questions in, and it’s time to go.

Coart is teaching on Ezekiel & Daniel this quarter, two widely misunderstood and ignored books. Heck, I figure Ezekiel was the first fringe kid, sporting an odd hairdo and some kind of funky robe back in the 6th Century…. who else would be drafted into such an odd ministry of puppet-sermons, play-acting, and weird behavior?  hehe  [Calm down. I’m just kidding.]

The ‘Watchman’ passage in chapter 3 is difficult on a good day. In what sense is Ezekiel responsible for the deaths of both wicked or righteous men if he fails to warn them of coming judgment? And how do we reconcile all of that with the paradox of free will vs. God’s sovereignty?

But I’m not here to discuss THAT question. (Good luck. Call me when you figure it out.)

I was frustrated that people jump so quickly to pat answers instead of allowing themselves and (more importantly) other people to wrestle with these difficult passages. Lest you prick yourself on a thorn of interpretation, a self-appointed ‘thought-police’ lurks nearby, ready to offer the standard formulaic answer.  Poke the answer a little, however, and its veneer of certainty rubs away.

I wish we cultivated a culture of questioning, instead of idolizing “answers.”

Truth is, even the best explanations of some Bible passages fail to satisfy.  I’m not a Christian because the Bible nailed me with some airtight defense of its own reliability.

I’m a Christian because one day, inexplicably and without remedy, God mashed into my life and drew me to Himself as a child of redemption.  I trust Him, first and foremost.

The questions in my head cannot be answered by black letters dancing on a white page. God Himself is the Truth, a personal Truth who can be questioned.  David paved our way in the Psalms as he pounded on the doors of heaven seeking answers to life’s crap.

Job questioned too, but his hard-headed self-righteousness provoked a response from the Almighty that I don’t care to ever experience. Then again, Job is one of the few to hear God’s actual voice … and he lived to praise God for His goodness. [God protects children and fools….?]

We think that a question unanswered is somehow a mark against us, as if God were administering the SAT of LIFE and we won’t make it into the next heavenly course without a good score.

Instead of wrestling with the Being Who Is Truth or inhaling the scent of paradox – a mysterious answer that somehow quenches our indelible thirst – we are too easily satisfied.  Satisfied with the simple answer, with a cardboard, staid, predictable image of God.

Answers are well and good, but you need to soak up the question first.
Douglas Adams was right — knowing the answer to the Life, the Universe, and Everything is irrelevant unless you understand The Question.

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