Monday, August 31, 2015

Progressive Christianity: Doubt, Part 2

I suggested last time that Rachel would do well to use a different word than doubt, and I explained why. In this post I’d like to suggest a different way to express what I think she is getting at. I would like to suggest that she talk about raising questions.

So, someone tells you that the Bible teaches (fill in the blank). But it doesn’t sound quite right. So, what do you do? You raise questions. ‘Why do you think that’s true? I’ve heard that there are others who disagree with you. Have you considered what they have to say? Why do you think that are wrong?’

Raising questions is good. We are not to blindly accept what others tell us. If what they say is correct they should be able to show that to you. Here is an example of this sort of thing. Paul and Silas enter town and tell the people there about Jesus. Their audience is eager to hear what they have to say, but they don’t just accept it. Note how Luke describes what they did.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17

In this they have a basic question for Paul and Silas. Is what you say true according to the Scriptures? It’s the right question. And Luke commends them for raising their questions. (They were ‘more noble’.)

So, if Rachel wants to encourage lots of questions about what to believe, I’m all for it. The more questions the better.

However, it needs to be said that someone raises questions in order to find some answers. It was good for those people to challenge Paul and Silas and raise their questions. And as Luke goes on to report, they found some answers. As a result, they were persuaded to place their faith in Jesus.

And this is where I have my concerns. There are some who are not looking for answers. They would rather glory in their doubts. I don’t know that Rachel is among them, but there are many who are like this. What if those people that Luke wrote about did that? What if they simply stubbornly clung to their doubts? They would have never put their faith in Jesus.

The point of this is not to be able to brag that you have all the answers, that all the questions are taken care of. Anyone who does that doesn’t know very much. There are plenty of questions that aren’t answered - and won’t be. Some answers will have to wait for an answer. No, the point of this is to be able to live wisely. It’s just a fact that there is much foolish in our world and the result of that foolishness is lives that aren’t working well. Asking and finding answers to our questions is how we can gain wisdom to live well, to live wisely. Didn’t those folk in Luke’s account take an important step in the right direction by asking their questions and then getting answers to those questions? Anyone unwilling to do that, both the asking and then getting answers, will not live well - not in the way that Jesus defines that.

This will be my last post on Rachel’s book. I have enjoyed getting to know her, even just a little. I’d like to think that we’d both enjoy sitting down at some coffee shop and talking about all sorts of things over a cup of coffee. While I doubt that such a thing will happen in this life, I look forward to doing it after the resurrection when we will both be able to rejoice in the wisdom and love of Jesus. 

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