is the point of asking theological questions? Can we ever really
know the answers?
we stop learning when we graduate from high school? College? Law
school? Seminary? Graduate school? Medical school? No. As human
beings, we are constantly learning and discovering new things. And
our curiosity about what we learn, or at least provisionally accept,
prompts us to ask new questions.
of this probably genetically encoded capacity to continuously learn,
everyone is a theologian by nature, whether they recognize it or
not (even atheists are theologians). Everyone at some time or another
in their life asks themselves if God exists, and if so, how does
God act in the world? When confronted with disaster, tragedy, and
loss, it is not uncommon to ask fundamental and sometimes deeply
troubling questions about the role of God as a saver or taker of
life. We ask these very personal and profound questions often when
we are confronted with a sense of our own mortality, or have witnessed
something horrific—beyond easy human explanation. We automatically
seek explanation, comfort, and understanding.
theology, whether formally acknowledged as such or not, often provides
the basis for what one chooses to do with one's life, and the meaning
one sees in life itself.
If God is viewed by someone as a vindictive, abusive patriarch,
the chances are good that that core theological belief will be reflected
in that person's day-to-day affairs. Likewise, theology also lies
at the base of a moral or ethical perspective, which can profoundly
affect social and personal relations.
although on this side of death we cannot know anything with absolute
certainty (and there is no guarantee that we will know that much
more on the other side), it is crucial to our lives and to our communities
and the world, that we act as theologians, and ask the hard questions.
The answers, though tentative, are important, because they will
inform who we are, and how we behave in the world.
Rev. Canon William Stroop, Ph.D.
Understanding is never complete. If we are following
Jesus, our hope is to grow in understanding and consciousness.
That is an ongoing process. Given the complexity of life, the mystery
of the divine, the limitation of our own facilities, and the shortness
of life, we can never reach a place where we can claim full understanding
or complete certainty.
are always trying to deepen our understanding, and we continually
need a subsequent touch to
see more clearly. Even the truth that
we grasp is subject to further correction and refinement. That
is the excitement and challenge of growing in the Spirit. St. Paul's
says we are to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling."
Though we may never reach a place of full knowing, we can certainly
enjoy adequate or sufficient knowledge for living faithfully. I
don't know everything, but I know enough to trust. I know that
God is good, that love is the strongest thing in the universe,
that Jesus reflects in human life the loving character of God,
that life comes out of death. That's enough for authentic life.
It's fun to continue to learn and to catch new insight. It can
even be fun to discover the limitation of what I formerly held
as true, and to change. I accept it as inevitable that I will change,
if I am to continue to try to set my mind on divine things rather
than on human things.
--The Rev. Lowell Grisham