One of the things that I have been accused of in the past little while is sort of an anti-intellectualism. My ability to say ‘I don’t know’ in almost every situation bothers people. Sometimes the fact that I can argue both sides of an argument (ask my intro to religion tutorial students) fairly convincing bothers people. I’ve been told that if I’m going to be in church leadership I need to know answers and be able to give answers. I’ve been told that it is harmful to ask questions and not find answers and that questions leave people in a place of unreliability and weakness. I’ve been told that people are going to come to me looking for concrete answers and that my position on many issues won’t be acceptable.
There are a few things that I don’t understand about it all. I don’t understand why a ‘leader’ needs to have all the answers. I don’t think that is the pre-requisite. Most of the leaders (ones that I wouldn’t consider the most amazing ones in the world) that I have ran into usually give me chauchy answers to begin with. They usually beat around the bush, tell me to take it by faith or ramble about how God is in control or something like that. I refuse to be like that. If I don’t understand an argument, or I don’t have a concrete answer I have no problem at all directing people to where they can study it and understand it more on their own. I refuse to tell them the ‘right answer’ and then tell them where to learn more about how that answer is right. I don’t think that’s the way a leader works. A leader is like a teacher in this regard. It is not their job to give them the answer, but to teach them how to learn. As a leader I want to inspire people to learn more and not settle for half-sought answers. I don’t want them to think like me, I want them to think.
I don’t think you can just direct everyone back to the bible either. I don’t think the bible has all the answers to life. The bible is not an answer book. I don’t think that you can just ask someone older than you, or someone over authority over you and that automatically gets the right answer or it can’t be opposed. I guess a time is coming where I’m going to have to make some serious decisions on what I think, but I never want to be so naïve to think that my conclusions are the absolute right ones. They can and hopefully always will be challenged, growing in wisdom and understanding and stretched. Even Paul throughout his letters grew to understandings on issues, and other writers of the bible. Yes, writers of the bible CHANGED THEIR MINDS. Ask Peter what his thoughts were on Gentiles coming to salvation? It seems that even Jesus was challenged and grew in his ability to understand things and come to conclusions (Matthew 15). Of course we like to pass it off as God testing the women or something like that, but most scholars believe that this was a time in Jesus’ life where he was challenged to look to even Israel’s enemies (the nation which she is from) to offer them salvation.
So I figure if Jesus, Paul and most other leaders I look up to grow in their understandings and still acknowledge the mystery of God then I can too. If someone wants to ridicule me for that, I guess I won’t be their leader?
For the most part this blog is me working out my understanding of God and theology. For those that think I’m a reed blowing in the wind, read through the many posts that I’ve written in the past year and see that I’m struggling hard through issues trying to come to grips with the truth that is out there but is so easily disguised by our own selfishness.