this statement (“questions are better than answers”) is one of the CORE values we came up with a few years back, as part of our one-day CORE training for youth workers. it was one that brought with it much heated discussion with the CORE team. there were those on the team who weren’t happy with this as a statement by itself, saying that while Jesus certainly raised lots of questions, he also provided many answers. some lobbied for a modification, along the lines of “questions can be as helpful as answers” or “questions are sometimes better than answers” or something of that sort.
but sitting here at the emergent convention seems to be a good place to ruminate on this tension. and all i can do is fall back on the statement itself. frankly, i do not find answers all that helpful. i suppose the primary reason for this, in my life (and i think this is reasonably universal), is that the “answers” we think we have are almost always temporal, or situational, or — at the very least — lead to new questions.
for some, this seems to be a very frightening thought: how can i know anything, if i can’t settle on an answer? but this very question (ooh, a very helpful question in and of itself) is built on such a faulty set of assumptions. sure, i “know” that God is characterized by love (let’s just use this as a sample “answer”, since christians of all stripes would agree on it). and i “know” that is true, as opposed to it’s theoretical opposite: God is characterized by hate. but while the answer gives me a road sign, it doesn’t give me a destination. so, last year i might have responded to that “answer” with a certain set of new questions, this year (today) it brings with it a whole new set of questions. and this does not leave me in a place of fear; it leaves me in a place of wonder, a place of exploration, and a place of humility. and these places are exactly the places God wants me to be! God does not desire for me to be in a place of conclusion.
just yesterday, someone asked me what a defining mark was about the emergent crowd. i thought for a minute, and the best answer i could come up with was: they (we) are not afraid of any question.
so, in the spirit of the emergent convention, i re-affirm this statement, and would even add stronger language to it:
questions are always better than answers