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Reform Magazine | August 19, 2017

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We’re all doomed! Discuss

We’re all doomed! Discuss

According to a particularly twittish bumper sticker, “The answer is Jesus, what’s the question?” It makes me want to answer “Who ate all the pies?” Or “What do you get if you mix bleach and vinegar?”

Not the least problem with this pronouncement – after its being generally annoying and easily refuted – is that it misrepresents Jesus so much. As Conrad Gempf points out in his book Jesus Asked, Jesus seemed much more interested in asking questions than answering them: out of 67 conversations in Mark’s gospel, he asks questions in 50.

Often his only answer to a question is another question. “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?” they say. He says: “Whose face is on the coin?”

Jesus is not the answer, he’s the question.

Questions require work. They make you take some responsibility for what you believe. They exercise the mind. They make you chew things over for yourself rather than just swallow what someone else has chewed for you.

Or do they?

That’s the idea behind the new feature we introduced in the March issue of Reform. It’s called A Good Question. Every month we ask one question, ideally a good one, and get four different responses.

It’s an opportunity for us, as readers, not just to hear someone’s take on an issue, but to walk around it and look at it from various sides, and take part in a debate.

Perhaps the first question “What will the church be like in 40 years?” wasn’t the best choice for my first issue as editor, on reflection. It’s certainly an interesting one, but it’s also rather bleak. That’s one thing all four agreed on. Some extrapolated from statistics, some told stories, some offered challenges, but none said the future’s bright.

It might have been nice to start with something more cheerful. Never mind. Next month’s question will be rather more positive, I suspect.

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