Last month, my wife, daughter and I visited my wife’s family and friends in her hometown. It was a fairly long stay, and I spent some time with a mutual friend who has a one-year-old son.
We had some pizza and talked about different things, none too deep, until he started talking about how having a son has renewed a questioning spirit within him. Now, he wants to know the “whys” in life. From infant baptism to rainbows, he has a newfound curiosity about life. Once he started to open up about these questions, the deeper conversation began.
It is in these conversations that we find ourselves connecting on a more deeper level with others. We can discover, grow, and even find new questions that we hadn’t considered.
Strangely, the current American education system (broad brush strokes here) attempts to kill curiosity. Educators are more interested (once again, broad strokes) in whether you can recite information rather than how you think or what questions you come up with.
The saying, “curiosity killed the cat” is a mantra in our culture, and a foolish one at that. If you analyze that statement, it is saying that curiosity is dangerous and we should be afraid of it. Well, I can tell you that a cat’s curiosity causes it to live not die. They experience new things and learn about their environment. There is an element of danger for the animal, but the positives usually outweigh the negatives.
Curiosity is also “enlivening” to us. Taking rabbit trails is bad if you’re a soldier, but if you’re a scientist, it can mean new discoveries that help cure disease.
Some theologians take rabbit trails, too. They have an investment in finding the truth, even if that confronts their reason or their articles of faith. Michael Spencer, who was a Baptist minister (and the “Internet Monk”), created a blog in which honest Christians from different denominational viewpoints could ask questions and interact without fear of attack. Although he was a Baptist (he passed away last month), he was open to many different points of view, and was even able to criticize his own denominational articles. This allowed for a vibrant and engaging discussion.
I am not saying that we should ignore doctrine (sound teaching). Many theologians thrive off of the “sureness” of the doctrines of their church. That is necessary and helpful. But, to be true to the roots of the Reformation, protestants are called to “Semper Reformandi” (always reforming). This means that we can ask questions that aren’t adequately answered by our statements of faith. We can ask questions of the Scripture (there are so many!!) and not be afraid that our faith will be unbraided. God, our God is the God of depth.
Examination, questioning, and sorting through theological puzzles deepens our faith, and causes those around us to deepen their faith (except in the cases or arrogance or disinterest). These mental activities are the interior motivations that God has placed within us. It is the Devil who wants to destroy these very human impulses to grow. If he can manage to keep us in the superficial realm, then he has effectively made us ignorant fools. If he can drown out these impulses with T.V., politics, gossip, or any number of seemingly interesting activities, then he can steal away the years of our lives that we could have pursued wisdom.
Almighty God, please empower us to overcome superficiality and spiritual arrogance. We long to understand and know you more deeply. We thank you that Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of Wisdom. Please inspire us, feed us, and reward our efforts to seek to understand your word more deeply. To You be the Glory forever and ever, Amen.