Skip to main content

I like the phrase “living the questions.” I use it now and then, and so do a lot of other people. There’s even a book out there that’s got the phrase in the title.

I like the phrase because it encourages a “journey” mentality of spiritual growth rather than a “fortress” mentality. Some might think it’s just a wishy-washy rejection of “absolute truth” that throws everything up for grabs.

I disagree. I think it reflects a healthy realization that we are absolutely certain of far less than we think we are, that we walk by faith, not by sight. We are all on a journey of some sort, whether we realize it or not, and “living the questions” can help unmask false certainties.

Many are looking for communities of faith where they can find others who like living the questions, too, and won’t judge each other for doing so. In my world, at least, the questions people most often want to live in have to do with the Bible. They want to feel safe and be valued for wanting to interrogate the Bible that was packaged for them in their upbringing.

Older ways no longer have explanatory force for the world they live in, and the place to begin to work it out is to ask a lot of questions in a community of fellow journeyers and not feel the pressure of coming up with the “right” answer to make others happy.

Like I said, I’m down with all that, but….

If you’re really willing to ask the questions and live them, presumably the process of asking and living will bring some clarity and movement in your thinking. In other words, sooner or later you will have to start living the answers…

…answers you never expected, answers that in your former mindset you “knew” were wrong, answers that would shock others if they knew.

I know readers would be encouraged by hearing stories of others who have experienced a transition like this. Please feel free to post your thoughts.

[Note: If you think the idea of journeying, living the questions, or arriving at risky answers is wrong, stupid, self-absorbed, unorthodox, etc., you too should feel free to let us know–once. More than once is just badgering.]
Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.