Through the summer, we’ve been teaching a series at our church called “Sunday School Stories,” where we’ve revisited stories from the Hebrew Scriptures that most of us as adults haven’t heard in many years. As part of the series, two weeks ago, I taught the story from 2 Kings 2, where some youths taunt the prophet Elisha, who curses the children whereupon two bears emerge from the woods and maul 42 of the boys.
By nature of personality, I tend to ask pesky questions. I think I’ve always been this way, as long as I can remember. Pat answers don’t usually satisfy (which is what drives me week in, week out to study, study, study). As a side note – in many religious contexts “pesky” questions aren’t very welcome, and I’ve spent much of my life feeling like a theological outsider to my traditions.
Anyway, I was disturbed as I researched the Elisha and the Bears story to find that the most common answer was something along the lines of “God’s ways are not our ways.” Which is true, to a point. But I still have questions. And while “God’s ways are not our ways,” may be a satisfying answer to some religious types who believe in the essential goodness of God, it’s not very satisfying to those that aren’t already convinced.
One of the hallmarks of Christian theology is the idea that God desires to be known. That’s what the incarnation is all about – God seeking to be known by the creation. And while we, as finite beings will never be able, by simple definition, to comprehend an infinite being, I think we’re supposed to try. We’re supposed to seek, to ask pesky questions, to be unsatisfied, to ask again and to keep searching. So when we come up against stories like bears mauling 42 youth, we ought to ask hard questions about the nature and character of God.
A couple weeks ago, I was talking to this Jewish guy and he told me that one of the things he values in his tradition is the sense in Rabbinic Judaism that there is never a “final word,” but instead an ongoing conversation between individuals with the Scriptures and tradition. This excites me so much. It excites me to know that there is almost more to know. (ya know?)
Anytime I don’t have a lunch appt., and I eat alone in my office, I watch a TED talk. It’s just my thing. But, many days, I have a hard time finding a TED talk that interests me. I’ve seen most of the ones that interest me. But, what if this isn’t true of our conversations about God? What if, there is an endless supply of doubts, questions and conversations to be had?
I know that might freak some of you out a little, but it excites me.
So, just for fun… what are some of your thoughts, questions and doubts these days?