August 6, 2009

Faithful Questioning

Some humorous and some meaty quotes on asking questions and Christian scholarship, from James K.A. Smith in his interview at the often-excellent Through a Glass Darkly blog:

  • The tipping point was a sermon I preached entitled "Trivial Pursuits: Or, Things That Bother Us that Don’t Bother Jesus."
  • I also have some letters in my files from my former Bible college professors in which they describe me as a "student of Judas Iscariot."
  • I guess I would be hesitant to set up these two different worlds–the "questioning" world of Christian scholarship and the "confessing" world of the church. I think there’s inseparable intermingling here. Or let me put it this way: every question is its own kind of confession. Even our questions are articulated from somewhere, on the basis of something–however tenuous. And some of our best confessions are questions: Why, O Lord? How long, O Lord? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? As I think about it, the confessions are not boundaries that mark the limits of questioning; rather, the creeds and confessions are the guardrails that enable us to lean out and over the precipice, asking the hard questions.
  • Our churches often are not comfortable with fostering an ethos of curiosity and questioning, even though God is not at all frightened by such things. Again, I think it’s important for Christian scholars to model what faithful questioning looks like.
I'm no scholar, but I think that advice applies to the rest of us, too.

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