“Living the questions” isn’t everything
James McGrath shared a cartoon today from David Hayward that depicted the cross on a church steeple being replaced with a question mark.
I don’t want to read too much into the cartoon, which may have just been meant to be provocative or get people thinking, but it seems to me that progressive Christians sometimes make a fetish out of “questioning.” The problem wit this is that (1) it implies that other types of Christians don’t ask questions and (2) questioning for its own sake can become a substitute for having a positive message or agenda. When I think of the great icons of liberal/progressive Christianity (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr. or Desmond Tutu), I think of people who, yes, wrestled with doubt, but who also had a strong vision of what was true and right and were willing to fight for it. The life of perpetual questioning, with answers indefinitely deferred, can sometimes become an excuse for not taking responsibility or making a stand.
I realize that many people who now identify as progressive Christians may come from fundamentalist and/or abusive church backgrounds where questioning received beliefs was verboten. Churches should definitely be places where people feel safe asking questions and expressing doubts (and they often fail to be such places). But a church whose highest reason for being is to ask questions sounds more like a debating society than a herald of the gospel.