leave your questions at the door please

leave your questions at the door please April 12, 2013
leave your questions at the door please cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
(contact David if you are interested in originals or prints OR click image to shop)

So many people would still be in the church if they were allowed to process their questions openly without fear. Why churches generally discourage questions is obvious. If you haven’t read my post on “Questions Not Permitted”, click here.

The bible itself advocates the importance of growth and progress. It is full of stories of people moving out of their present container into new frontiers.

The history of the church and her saints illustrate the same, including St. John of the Cross who spent most of his life work on describing the dark night of the soul for us.

Even our own experience, if we accept it as real and valid, proves that pressing through questions is necessary, inevitable and beneficial.

If the church could get a guarantee from us that we promise, after we question, to come back to the same beliefs even stronger in them than before, then perhaps it would be allowed. If we would swear to come back from our personal wilderness more certain with our familiar beliefs even more deeply engrained, then no problem.

But those in authority intuitively know that we are probably going to come back from the wilderness changed. That’s going to threaten everything. And that’s unacceptable.

One example would be the important changes occurring with gender equality. I wrote a post on it yesterday about “women leaders we apparently need to avoid” where I hope to contribute to progress that’s sorely needed.

There are safe spaces for people to process their questions. The Lasting Supper is just one of them.

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  • Pat Pope

    “But those in authority intuitively know that we are probably going to come back from the wilderness changed. That’s going to threaten everything. And that’s unacceptable.”

    And we might actually start living as Jesus would have us to, which is far more risky than the way many currently live in these churches.

  • true pat. true.

  • What I love to observe is that so many leaders I know are themselves finding the way into the desert — well yes, they are kicking and screaming, that’s how I got there! But they too will come out changed. Some will leave the church. Some will find their way back again.
    “Beyond rational and critical thinking, we need to be called again. This can lead to a “second naivete — but now new, inclusive and mature.” Paul Ricoeur

  • Sherrie L

    It’s interesting that the Mormon church leaders preach about asking God anything and He’ll answer you truthfully. They take pride in being such an ‘open minded’ church. So, at age 16 I asked – and I asked in earnest. My answer, which came to me in a soft female voice, was to keep on looking, which I’ve done ever since. But, the response from church leaders & my parents when I told them was that I was receiving messages from Satan. Well, I ignored their advice and kept on looking. And, I’ve never looked back. I’m so much happier with my weird, eclectic faith that I’ve cobbled together from seeking answers to my multitude of questions. I’ve learned things about other faiths and other ways of believing that they would never even hear about, let alone take away Truth from. They don’t even understand how sad and limiting they are being by these keep-it-in-the-box ideas & dogma. Those who do seek through questions bloom in ways that are unimaginable to those who do not.

  • good for you sherrie

  • What you say is sad but true for many, if not most churches. But some churches have faithfully heeded the biblical imperative of growth and progress. And some scholars have faithfully approached Scripture open to growth and progress in our scriptural understanding. And found it; and proclaim it. More churches will do likewise and soon the more and sooner questioners bring their questions in and instead of expecting answers make finding the answers a group effort. Sunday worship and Bible Study aren’t the faithful equivalent of arithmetic; they’re the faithful equivalent of rocket science. At that level a student is responsible for both developing the questions and discovering the answers. And like science, in Scripture there is only ever one right answer. And like science, in Scripture the correct answer is always subject to increased or improved understanding. A lot of churches don’t get that, but if you do don’t fault any church for faulty understanding, go in and help them understand. If they won’t participate, go to another church, and another until you find one that will. Another biblical imperative is the priesthood of believers. the Church needs you as much as you need the church.

  • Caryn LeMur

    David: your article here brought back such sad memories to me. It was a good description of the Vineyard we attended.

    There was such a military atmosphere there, with so many unspoken assumptions: shape up or ship out… how dare you question us based on the Bible… how did your kind even read that Bible so accurately?…. you are welcomed here, to attend, but we have to consider each person on an individual case… we are ok with divorce and marrying a divorced person even though Jesus is not… we are NOT ok with transsexuals that had medical intervention… we are ok with our obese elder that had medical intervention… did you know that all bisexuals are unfaithful in marriage, and that is a fact, and that heterosexuals are automatically good?… what do you mean that the wisdom from heaven has no partiality, and how dare you quote that scripture to us….?… we are God’s appointed Colonels… you are a perverse, but forgiven, private….

    They were so happy with the parade ground of a church building, uniforms of similar thinking, medals of attendance, and the ability to salute the leadership. Yet, our compassionate Lord split their church (about a year after we had left), and then removed their pastor (about 2 years after we left). I sense in the Spirit, He will bless the remnant with a good shepherd that will gently feed them.

    I fear that one day, their church will be filled with only one generation of like-minded people, and they will wonder why the younger generations have abandoned God…. in reality, the younger generations are embracing questions and individual journies to find the answers. I sense that one day, the congregation will all be age 45 to 75, a dwindling congregation of soliders still polishing shoes and affirming to each other that they alone have the true book of tactics… and then, as they slip into eternal life, they will need to one day sell their building to another congregation.

    When I take this concern to Jesus, I sense that He softly smiles… and shows me that this has been the norm for generations. He loves them; feeds them; and protects them.

    He reminds of how much He welcomed the questioning of the fear-filled Nicodemus, the awkward spiritual search of Zaccheus, and the overriding faith of the gentile Roman Centurion. He so embraced the questioner, the seeker, and the counter-culture. He then often reminds me of the phrase, “He that is able to hear it, let him hear it”.

    I suppose I am rambling at this moment. Thank you again for the article.

    Much love in Christ always and uncondtionally; Caryn

  • Thanks Caryn. I like the way you said “I fear that one day, their church will be filled with only one generation of like-minded people”. I think it’s well on its way there.