To believe, to be faithful, and to be truly alive does not mean blind acceptance of what has been given, thought, or taught to us. It is important that we listen, learn, and reflect upon what has been passed on to us. Unless we question, engage and wrestle with these things, they will only become an ornament of the past with their purpose a curiosity and our churches will become simply museums.
Christianity has its doctrines, its beliefs, its dogmas and its traditions. They can be found in its scripture, creeds, and liturgy. We listen to them, recite them and then often move on to the next event in the service. To question them sometimes seems, or can be interpreted, as a sign of doubt or disrespect. When, in fact, faith and respect can only be enhanced by our deep questions of its foundations.
Whether it be the Trinity, the virgin birth, the titles and nature of Jesus, the source and authority of the Bible, the understanding and experience of the resurrection, or other important dimensions of the church, all that is sacred and defining to the faith is not above our questions and our need to probe deeply their authenticity. For unless we, in our generation, do our work of engagement with the great teachings and heritage passed down to us, we risk losing them by our neglect.
It is interesting to think that we teach our children to ask questions when they do not know something, to be open to learn in school; but somehow pass on to them a feeling that in church we simply recite and accept what is said without question. I do not know where this feeling comes from as it is not found in our scripture or history. In fact every great understanding we have has come from our great debates and from people who risked their reputations and sometimes lives by standing alone in their questions about why things were the way they were. The church is not, and should not be, a gathering of people who simply recite the same thing, but rather is and needs to be the coming together of people longing to know the depths of life, the meanings of our beings and the experience of God. We cannot truly engage ourselves with this gathering without the important dimension of our willingness to question why.