God’s call to Question.
I did a talk last Spring at the Central Ohio’s Skpetic conference about how God calls us to doubt and to be skeptical. Needless to say, it was a hot topic at the conference. So, I thought I would share some of it here.
Most people view Christians in America as being willifully dumb. While I would argue there are more thoughtful Christians than people realize, I understand the point of view. The loudest Christians in America seem to be the dumbest. What’s even worse about that is they think the Bible sanctions their willful stupidity.
Contrary to popular opinion, God calls us to question everything. If you don’t believe me, allow me to give you a quick biblical survey. And, as with everything else, we have to start with Jesus. Jesus questioned everyone and everything. He called people’s motives into question. He called his followers into question. He asked questions that made everyone uncomfortable.
But, the most profound expression of Jesus’ questioning came on the cross when he cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Some Christians have tried to blunt the force of those passages by saying that Jesus was just quoting the Psalms to show his fufillment of the Old Testament. That view has some merit to be sure. But, the text shows us that there is something deeper going on here. At that moment, God is questioning God. Jesus, who Christians believe is fully God and Man, questions the Father. At that moment, all of the sin and grossness of the world is laid on Jesus and he is experiencing the full seperation from God that all of us have felt. He is questioning God’s presence. He is, in all reality, stating the problem of evil quite plainly. Why does God seem absent from this world of pain and suffering?
Jesus’ question on the cross is not unique to the Bible. It’s all over the Psalms, most especially in Psalm 88. Read it sometime. But to give you a taste, the Psalm ends this way, “Darkness is my only friend”. Or how about Job? Ecclesiastes, anyone? God’s invitation to reason together in the prophets. It all ads up.
While God encourages us to question, there is one thing we have to remember.
Those questions will eventually be turned on us.