Hard Questions, Difficult Answers

Some of the best articles I have ever read on world affairs, political philosophy, and the current war on terror have been at the Belmont Club. Today Wretchard’s Oh Say Can You See posting examines the difference between Democratic and Republican approaches to Jefferson’s democratic ideal, using a New York Time article by Michael Ignatieff as the inspiration. What truly struck home to me was Wretchard’s last sentence.

But that’s what freedom is: the ability to ask a question and not be afraid of the answer.

For some time now, thanks to the teaching of John C. Rankin at the Theological Education Institute in Hartford, Connecticut (I did not include a link because for some unknown reason, which I am still researching, his web site is gone [it is now up, hopefully for good], not just down and that happened within the last month.) I have been willing to ask, as Dr. Rankin puts it and Wrechard proposes, hard questions and not be afraid of the answers.

Why am I able to do this, you may ask? Because my God is God (to paraphrase that beautiful line from Yul Brenner in the Ten Commandments) and I have nothing to fear from the truth. Granted, sometimes finding the truth in certain situations is difficult, but in the end, I have nothing to fear from it. As Numbers explicitly states,

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

Therefore, I am free like Job to ask the most difficult questions and as Wretchard said in his article that is true freedom. As Christians we all posses this freedom, to ask God our Father all the hard questions and most importantly, not be afraid of the answers. There is one caveat, sometimes we do not get the answer we are seeking. Sometimes God says, as he said to Job, you do not need to know. Trust me instead.

Cop out some will say; unfair others will pontificate; an example of the failure of your belief some will opine. Instead, I choose to sit at the feet of Job, let God be God, and I will take the hindmost. I believe that whatever God has for me, if I trust him, is infinitely better than the alternative. Os Guinness, in The Dust of Death, which was a seminal book in my early Christian life, argued that what separates Christians is their ability to trust the One who knows why even when they do not. This is only possible and maintainable, Guinness argues, because at some point the Christian has thought through “to the point where he knows ‘why’ he believes ‘what’ he believes.”

For me, I will always be, as they say in the vernacular, down with Job. He knew that he had received good from God and if he accepted that from him, then he had to accept everything else. He even had to accept the apparent bad from God, for God was God. Yet, even with that acceptance Job still questioned, an attitude to which I can relate. He asked the hard questions of God and God did not condemn him for that, considering him to the very end to be a just and righteous man (he had to sacrifice for his friends, not himself, to allay God’s judgment). When all was said and done, Job got a difficult answer (what some will argue is no answer but I disagree). Despite that, he was consistent. He accepted God’s refusal to include him in His counsel and went forward on faith and trust. He knew that when push came to shove his fears (see Job 3:25) were not what defined him or his relationship with God or the freedom that relationship offered. In a way, this was Job’s last test, one that went well beyond the debate between God and Satan. In many ways his last test addressed the issues that are at the center of our modern/post-modern life, the desire to know. Job, remaining consistent and confirming his enduring loyalty to God, bowed his knee in submission and trust and accepted God’s decision; he accepted not knowing. I can do no less. What about you?

  1 comment for “Hard Questions, Difficult Answers

  1. Barry Gorter
    July 29, 2005 at 5:03 pm

    To Whom May Concern,

    The two primary accounts of the Devil before the fall that I have been able to find are in Isaiah 14 and Ezekial 28. In John Gill’s commentary on Ezekiel 28, he equates The King of Tyrus (or the Prince of Tyre) as being a form of Antichrist and compares him with the Catholic Pope. Matthew Henry believes Ezekiel 28 is a kind of ‘allegory’ for the devil. My translation of the bible actually uses the word ‘Lucifer’ in Isaiah 14, but other translations do not. In niether chapters is any reference to the Devil even made outside of that one word, Lucifer, which only appeares in the translation that I use and none other that I’ve seen. One could also ligitemitely suggest all Isaiah is referring to is the fall of Nebuchadnezzar. So the main question is why are those two chapters even used to explain the prefall existance of the Devil when the Devil isn’t otherwise mentioned but an actual human King? I realize that I am questioning a common interpritation of scripture, but it’s hard to understand ‘how’ one could come up with these interp-ritations. Any help in this area would be appreciated. My e-mail is barrygorter@yahoo.com.

    Sincerely,
    Barry Gorter

Comments are closed.