Questions or Answers?

It seems common in circles I move in these days for people/leaders/teachers to say things like “We don’t have answers, we just want to encourage questions.”

I respectfully disagree.

Not in the way I disagreed in my fundamentalist days (which was often not respectful), but I must disagree nonetheless.

I can’t won’t, and shouldn’t promise young people, or any others I am teaching, that I have all the answers, but I also dare not claim to have none.  If I have no answers at all, why should I be in any sort of leadership position?

I THINK that what we usually mean to say,  rather than “we have no answers,” is more like this: “Rather than me giving you answers, let me help you to learn, to struggle, to discern ways to answer this question (or these questions).”

It could be that some people want answers to their questions in the way some people want a pill to pop for every ache or problem, when some are best worked out by exercise or diet or behavior adjustment.

If you’ve got questions, I won’t tell you there are no answers.  Nor will I tell you the answers are easy and automatic (unless you have that kind of question).  I would, however, be glad to work through your questions with yuo, and invite you to share in mine.

I believe that, together, we can indeed find some answers.

4 thoughts on “Questions or Answers?

  1. Agreed…open source tech/strategy/ministry perfect example; it’s not that we don’t have answers, they are just more fun to come to in a collaborative/creative manner. Never just leave with more questions, just involve more heads, hearts, minds, voices in developing answers (which exist and need to be articulated and shared). I think we are saying similar thing…we all should come to the table with our contribution to the answer based upon our reason, experience, and interpretation of Scripture and tradition.

  2. This reminds of something I read by M. Scott Peck, I think it was in The Road Less Traveled; therapy wouldn’t necessarily make you feel better, but you would end up asking larger questions. Okay, that’s a poor paraphrase and it seems quite similiar. It’s not that we don’t have answers, it’s just that part of the answer that comes with age is that we learn to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing. Guess you got me thinking. 🙂

  3. It seems those who say we don’t have answers are in some ways rejecting a particular way of being church. In some ways I do not blame them, however, I agree. The message of Jesus has answers. They are not easy. They are not always what you want to hear. But it is Good News.

    So, yes, questions AND answers. One to the exclusion of the other is dangerous ground…

  4. It’s also tough to approach this question in the vague and abstract way we often do. Some answers are very easy to come by, and are clear and definite. For example as I was helping my daughter with her Algebra last night. She had to look at a graph and identify the x & y intercepts. There were clear and distinct answers to each problem. I could tell her the answers. But then it wasn’t my homework, it was hers. She’s the one who would be taking a test on the material at some point. So I showed her clearly how to figure the answer for herself. The “answer for herself” was not just an opinion, something she existentially claimed for herself, it was the real answer, identifiable by anyone who understood the assignment. SOME answers in life are like that.

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