In the course of one’s life, you eventually will face the questions regarding life’s meaning. Why am I here? What is my life about? Does my life have meaning or is it all absurd? Is there a God? If so, what difference will it make in my life? If not, how shall I live my life? Granted with each person the depth and extent of one’s grappling with those questions will vary. In the life of a Christian, these questions take on a different meaning.
Many people turn to philosophy to answer the big questions of life. Philosophy at its root is the love (or friendship) with wisdom. Much of the work done seeks to justify claims regarding truth and knowledge. The disciplines of metaphysics and epistemology take on and reflect scientific methods to establish what is real and knowable. Although this is the common approach to analytic philosophy, other methods, like those available in Continental philosophy favor phenomenology and dialectic. In the end, both streams of philosophical thought can only go so far in answering the questions.
Theology on the other hand, seeks to get rather specific regarding the questions of life. While seeking to explain faith and belief in God, the theologian attempts to provide clarity and depth to the God question. Granted the answers given often reflect the church and traditions s/he is speaking from, Scripture and dogma also play a part often as the source of authority. To a certain extent, theology is partial and provisional. We do not have all the answers
In the midst of all the philosophy and theology, many are raising questions about church, faith, doctrine and so on. The emergent church poses some of the questions to get the conversation started. This is in part a response to communicate an ancient faith to the contemporary context. Philosophy of religion also plays a part, although diminishing in some circles, to examine the concepts within religion. The encouraging thing with both is that they seek to provide a place for: questions to be asked, doctrines to be reexamined, and concepts to be analyzed. This is a place for open conversation, respectfulness and even transformation.
Jesus Christ provides in his life, death and resurrection of a different set of questions. Instead of us asking the questions, we are the ones facing the question. It is the, “Who do you say that I am?” that was posed to the disciples. The question, “Will you follow me?” faces disciples both then and now. Therefore, we are the ones called into question. How do we answer? How do we follow? These questions are life changing. It is not for us to try to answer definitively, rather it is a matter of submitting to the One asking the question.
Grace and peace,