Are questions better than answers? No.
Questions are important, but you need answers. The “questions are better than answers” theme of parts of the “Emergent church” is faulty.
Asking questions presupposes that answers are desired and that they exist. I’m not saying the answers are always easy or what we want to hear. But there are usually answers available. If church leaders don’t have some of the answers or at least know where to find them then they are not well qualified. Can you imagine going to a business consultant that was proud of the fact that he didn’t have answers?
And it is fair to ask if they really want answers, or if they just want to wallow in their doubts or are avoiding politically incorrect conclusions.
Shouldn’t all these questioning “emergent Christians” be drawn to apologetics? (The defense of the Christian faith.) Think about it: There is a sizable community that loves to deal with the tough questions and defending the faith every day. Yet they tend to be conservative, Bible-believing types. The theological Liberals say they want the freedom to ask questions and are sad because people didn’t answer them. Fair enough. So why don’t they camp out at Apologetics 315, or read the Wintery Knight and watch all the debates he posts, or read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels or access countless other books and websites? If they really want answers, why aren’t they going to those who have studied hard and worked to provide them? Hint: Many of them aren’t as questioning as they pretend to be. They have a firm dogma and are using a disingenuous passive-aggressive method to defend it.
I have always encouraged my kids to ask all the tough questions they want. I think that has actually strengthened their faith, because they know there are good answers available (not always from me, but somewhere). I’m always proud of them for using critical thinking skills and considering multiple sides to any issue – religious or otherwise.
If someone is told “just believe” it usually has the opposite effect. People need to be able to have the humility to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out,” because one bad answer can undo ten good ones. But just because we don’t have all the answers at our fingertips doesn’t mean that good answers aren’t out there. Christians are supposed to use reason and ask questions.
Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.
Still, as we find in Job, Ecclesiastes, the Psalms and other parts of the Bible, there are some questions we don’t get to know the answer to. Perhaps we couldn’t understand them - just as a parent can’t convey everything they know to a 3 year old. Or for his good reasons Jesus doesn’t think you need to know, such as in this passage in John 21:
And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Peter had just been reconciled to Jesus (the passage where He asks “Do you love me?” three times). Then Peter asked a question but Jesus didn’t bother to answer him. Peter had to deal with it. In the mean time, Jesus gave “follow me” commands as bookends. That is a great reminder for us.
Some people think that if you hold a firm position on something then you haven’t considered alternatives and that you think you have “all the answers” — even though they are often less flexible than their ideological opponents. While that is possible, it is often their own prejudices and dogma that keep them from considering that perhaps you weighed and studied other options carefully before arriving at your current position.
If you have questions, that’s great. Pour over the Bible. Seek out great apologists (see the links to the right for starters). But don’t use them as an excuse not to follow Jesus. Eternity is a mighty long time, and eternity matters.