A Very Christian Question

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Since my last post was a gripe about a class that I did not like, so today I am going to write about a class that I am actually enjoying.

In my Judaism class we have been getting an introduction to the beliefs, practices, and understandings of the Jewish people.

In this class I was confronted with an experience that I had never had before.  And I do not know exactly how to label it.

As Rabbi Sasso was describing all of the different writings that are used in the Jewish tradition, the Tanakh, Midrash, Talmud, Mishnah, etc.  I almost became overwhelmed.

I had known that there was a vast array of writings in which the Jewish people read in order to engage history and tradition.  But I was always curious:  Where do Jewish people start when looking for authority?  Where do Jewish people go when they look for a scriptural answer?  Where is Truth found?

For Christians, it is very easy:  We open the Bible. We  know about where to go.

And so I posed the question to Rabbi Sasso:

“Where do Jewish people start when they look for ‘biblical answers’?”

“That is a very Christian question.”  

Boom.

I had almost lost my breath.

I didn’t know what to say.

That is a very Christian question.

After my head returned to its neck, I began to listen again.

“In Judaism, we don’t have the answer.  We don’t find comfort in the answer.  But rather, we live with the questions.  We struggle with the questions.  There is not one correct answer.”

Well, hell.

Christianity, we have Jesus saying: I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIGHT!

To many that is THE ULTIMATE ANSWER.

And so from that, we think we HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS to ALL THE QUESTIONS!

But we don’t.

We live with theodicy on a daily basis.  Why do bad things happen to good people?

What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

Why would a loving God kill a woman for just turning to look?

What happens when we die?

We think we have the answers.

But, what if we decided that it was okay to just ask the questions?

What if we decided that we actually didn’t know the answers?

What would the face of Christianity be then?

Would it be Pat Robertson with his answers on the 700 club?  Would it be Fred Phelps, who knows that God is hateful.

What would our churches look like?

Asking the very Christian questions without the answers.  That is the image of Church I can get with.

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5 responses to “A Very Christian Question”

  1. Bere Gil Soto says :

    Loved it!

  2. mntecky says :

    This reminds me a lot of some Native American teachings, especially the Lakota. Ed McGaa writes, “I do not expect you to trade your set of beliefs for mine. I do not have all the answers. But in my tradition, we ask more questions and we share our honest observations.” Later, he goes on to describe a conversation he had with his father while Ed was taking “Sunday catechism class” required for reservation youth: “Though my father advised me to heed the white man’s message, he gave it little credence. ‘No one knows who God is,’ he would say. ‘Only a damn fool would attempt to tell you that.’ He would wave at the sky and tell me to look around me. ‘Indians would tell you that it was too big to know.'” I agree – God is too big to know; I enjoy the questions and open-endedness of it all. I like the Lakota name often used for God: Great Mystery.

    • jaydeskins says :

      I agree. And that is very interesting. I think Christianity is one of the few religions that think they have the absolute answer, where many faiths believe in the mystery of the divine. And having answers for God limits God.

  3. henrybrewer-calvert says :

    I asked that same question in my Judaism class this semester Jay. It seems that many Americans don’t know how to handle not knowing all the answers. Sometimes, having questions and no answers seems more terrifying than we can possibly handle.

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