Questioning Faith

I was planning on blogging a bit about postmodernism and talking about some of what I’m learning tonight. However, I was checking my RSS feeds via Thunderbird and came upon a post on Mark Marsden’s blog, Forward Motion. The specific post that I’m referring to is here.

There is a particular part of his blog entry that I found very interesting. It’s the section where he begins talking about questions, and their importance. Those of you who know me know that I am all about questions. Without questions we cease growing, we ceasing learning, and we instead become apathetic and stagnant. Perhaps even leading to self-righteousness in that we begin feeling as if we have no questions (which invariably leads to the thought, though hardly ever verbalized, that we have all the answers). This is, of course, almost the opposite of what is presented in the Bible. But, I didn’t intend to just rant on here. I’d like to bring up some possible discussion topics, or at least let me mind think through some things. After all, isn’t a blog a great place to let you mind think? At anyrate…

Perhaps this willingness to question is part of what makes postmodernism different from modernism (a difference that I am forced to think more about given my current reading material). Meaning modernity is, at present, the status quo, and postmodernity is the young questioning child. I can’t get onboard with Andy Crouch or Micheal Horton who seem to try with many eloquent words to make the point that postmodernity is nothing more than ultra-modernity or the next phase of modernity. I think it is emerging into a distinct entity and culture of its own. However, that does not say that it doesn’t owe much to modernism. Moreover, wasn’t modernism once the questioning young child? The culture that was pushing boundaries and making the ruckus? I think that, at one point, it was. In the same way postmodernism is now that child. The question in this case becomes: Will postmodernism go the way of modernism? I think the answer is a resounding yes. After all, cultures, like the people who are part of them, eventually grow old and give birth to new cultures. This is part of life, a great cycle. However, the interesting thing to watch will be if the church marries itself to postmodernity in the same way it has to modernity. If the church can embrace the culture, without enmeshing itself in the culture, then perhaps we can get on with being the Body of Christ and being in the world, not of it.

So then, we have postmodernity on the one hand questioning and looking at doing things in “new” ways, pushing boundaries and trying things. On the other we have modernity that is set, less fluid, and has the answers. Mark has a great quote on his blog by Sean Penn (I’m going to shamelessly copy and paste it here) “When everything gets answered, it’s fake. The mystery IS the truth.” This speaking specifically of the mystery that surrounds the Gospel and our faith in general. There will always be mystery to our faith in Christ, no matter how much theology we do. If the church can take this brief opportunity during the infancy (or childhood perhaps) of postmodernity and learn that mystery is okay, and does not need to be squashed, then perhaps the church might also be able to learn that because there is mystery there is room for love. There is room for the fruit of the Spirit. We can be gentle towards one another because we realize that mystery exists, is infact not an evil thing, and as a result it frees us to live as a family, albeit one that disagrees on certain things from time to time.

I look at Galations 5 and 6, and I see some amazing things. Don’t do the works of the flesh, but instead the works of the Spirit? I mean, that alone is difficult enough, but Paul gets specific and gives the opposing groups of works. Peace, love, gentleness, self-control. But Paul doesn’t stop there, in chapter 6 he talks about keeping each other accountable and sharing the load with one another. This is simply amazing. Unfourtunetly for everyone, I think that it rarely happens with any type of authenticity. But perhaps, just perhaps, if the church as a whole were willing to accept the possibility of mystery being acceptable, even good, it might become just a little easier to bear one anothers burdens, and by doing so fulfill the law of our Savior. Understand that I’m not trying to say that realizing mystery is okay is some magic pill that will cure our ills. I’m trying to say that it is one possible thing that the church could learn from postmodernity (without marrying ourselves to the culture) that could help us down the road of being the church.

This is already too long, so I’ll shut up now and hope that perhaps I have stirred someone else’s thinking with this post as much as my thoughts were stirred in writing it.

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One thought on “Questioning Faith

  1. Wow, Calvin – that is some pretty intense thoughts there . . . Yeah, I agree that questions will probably define this phase of “the Emerging” more than answers will. It seems we are once again open to stepping into the mystery, and able to let go of the shallow end.

    I’ve likened part of the Emerging to a moth leaving a chrysalis – It climbs toward the light, unaware of where it is heading but drawn instinctively . . . I wonder if the Body is being drawn instinctively through the cloud of unknowing toward the light, and that this will necessitate more questions than answers . . .

    As you say, mystery won’t be the cure all but I think it might be a key attitude and posture in carrying us to the next step . . . Embracing and celebrating mystery is just the beginning . . . But what a beginning it is: Holding God’s hand and walking into the darkness of the cloud of unknowing .. .

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