What is the most important question today?

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I wonder what questions we should be asking. Asking the right question can lead us to the right answers. Recently, I was working on an electrical diagram for my sailboat Life on Mars. It was time to replace a few parts. So, we reevaluated the entire system that powers the lights, navigation instruments, and communications. After drawing a wiring schematic, I sought advice. I emailed an engineer at Blue Sea Systems—they make a switch I use. I emailed an engineer at ProMarine—they make the battery charger I have. I emailed several marine electrical consultants.

To my surprise, everyone responded. In their replies, they all asked questions. Each question made me think about the system. Some pointed to aspects of wiring that I missed. Other questions reminded me of other parts of the system. Their questions helped me form a better plan. They asked good questions.

What questions should we ask about faith? In our faith journeys, we use various kinds of language. We use informative language to describe God or spiritual growth. E.g. “God is love.” We use expressive language to talk about our feelings in faith. Schleiermacher’s “religion is the feeling of absolute dependence” is expressive language. It comes up when we talk about our experience with Christ. E.g. “I feel God’s presence when I sail.” We also use directive language, especially in worship. E.g. “Let us pray” or “Let’s stand and sing.”

Questions are different kind of language. Questions like, “Where was God when I felt alone,” point us back to an expressive response, but that question is also confessional. It admits to a feeling. Questions draw out more information.

As we ask more questions, we hone our understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ. This is as important today as at any point in history. What questions should we be asking? Asking questions is not a sign of doubt. God and the reflection of God’s revelation in the Bible are not above queries. Both can withstand whatever we ask, and when we try to discover what questions to ask, we go.

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