I keep questioning when (or where) is the right time and place for questions. Just recently I saw an interview by Tony Jones (of Emergent Village fame) with John Chisham (of criticizing Emergent Village fame). When asked what his “beef” with Emergent was, Chisham said that people like him don’t like Emergent because they “don’t get it.” He went on to say that he thought doctrine was “nailed down.” He even went on to say that God was “bound” by certain things — which was shocking news to me. After Jones gently dismantled Chisham’s “American court room” analogy, Chisham remained un-changed. Chisham also felt that Emergent (and other religious organizations, I suppose) should have a statement of faith. When Jones said, “What about the Bible?” Chisham suggested that wasn’t good enough. (Again, a Restorationist like me and my friends have trouble with needing something more than scripture.)
Now, I’m not fully on board with all things Emergent Village — and no one is, even the people most intimately involved in it, it seems — but I find it curious that some people have such difficulty with “open questions” about God. Some folks want it all “nailed down,” and when other people allow for, what I would consider, legitimate questions and doubts, the response is vitriol and criticism.
Is there no place for open questions in faith? Or asking questions? No place for challenging beliefs that seem not to ring true? If not, why do we call it faith? We should call it certainty, then, shouldn’t we? But scripture (and I guess here Chisham might refer to his Statement of Faith instead) doesn’t call it certainty. The Bible calls it faith.
I have to confess — and I hope this doesn’t disturb too many folks at my church — everyday I have to make a decision about whether or not I believe God. Note, I did not say “believe in God” which connotes mere intellectual assent, which is no help to me in decision making and spiritual formation. Lots of folks believe in God. My questions center around whether or not I believe God is who He says He is and life is about what He says it is about. As Jones says in the interview, it is an intellectually honest way to live.
God is not provable, and from my read of scripture, doesn’t really like people telling Him what He must or must not do. Are there people really prepared to make that proclamation, that God “must do?”
But I guess at this point I’ve asked you too many questions.