Healthy Questioning vs. Arrogant Questioning

“… For too many people, faith is a kind of “auto-pilot” flight plan, but for reflective people, faith is linked closely to wonder, which keeps them open to the possibility that they’re on the wrong path or heading to the wrong destination. To put it another way, because of their commitment to reach the right destination – a truly good life, with good character, as a good neighbor, in harmony with the goodness of God – they are willing to question the directions they got off the internet when it appears there’s a discrepancy between their map and reality…. there’s an arrogant kind of questioning that’s harmful to the spiritual life. It involves an unwillingness to acknowledge mystery and a hasty rejection of wisdom from others, including wisdom from tradition. But there’s also an arrogant unwillingness to ask questions. It reflects a hyper-confidence that one already has it all figured out, shrink wrapped, and packed in the drawer. With God, I believe, mystery and wonder always remain, and awe always has the last work.” – Brian D. McLaren, Dare to Wonder

What caught my attention in Brian’s post is “an arrogant kind of questioning that’s harmful to the spiritual life. It involves an unwillingness to acknowledge mystery and a hasty rejection of wisdom from others, including wisdom from tradition.” It was just one sentence in a piece which is actually uplifting the value of questioning, but a significant line which stood out glaringly at me. I dare to wonder out of the box that’s energizing, that’s maturing (and in reality often that’s when we see our limits as people who ask questions). It’s wandering in circles which tires me. Listening to a broken record in my mind drives me crazy.

We were walking back from breakfast at an Indian restaurant to where we parked our cars at Bangsar Lutheran Church. The weather was good so I thought walking to and fro our breakfast venue was a good idea. This reminds me of Brian’s visit to Malaysia in March. I had a memorable walk and talk with him near the hotel he was staying. Brian and I explored some questions which were occupying our minds during that time. It was open ended but helpful.

My new friend asked me while walking back to our cars about my reading. Why do I read? I think I read because I have lots of questions. And the questions I have bursts into all sorts of directions which I hunger for answers. So, usually my starting point is to find answers. Ironically, even if I don’t find my originally expected answers, I find the reading gives me some space to even re-frame my perspectives or questions, or gives new language to talk and think about it in a way which frees me and “grows” me! The wisdom from others and especially from the past has humbled me. So, questioning of this kind has been helpful to my life – especially the spiritual life, and is crucial for my own well being.

I’m off to read Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on Matthew 5-7. Lots of questions in my mind. Let’s see what happens.

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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