I am so glad that I was given a good sense of curiosity. Very, very glad. There has seldom been a forest road I did not want to follow to see where it led, or a ghost town on the map that I did not want to explore. I visited a private Indian ruin in Arizona and got down in the dirt to excavate pottery shards. I was captivated by the curator’s theories about the Anasazi.
As I grew up in the church, and eventually on into Seminary, curiosity became my modus operandi. Not intentionally, not even knowingly. I only know this in the rear-view mirror. I was not happy to be lectured and then expected to regurgitate all the doctrinal views I was told to adhere. I often asked, “Why do you believe this? Why do you interpret this passage in this way? How do others view this truth? Is this statistic or opinion really valid, or is it contrived? What is the underlying bias of this writer or speaker?”
It wasn’t always postulated truth that captured my curiosity, but practical doctrine and Christian living. I didn’t question just to be questioning. God brought crossroads into my life where I needed to know rightly. Necessity is the mother of invention, it is said. And for me, necessity became the motivating factor to sort out truth from myth.
A good dose of mature curiosity is healthy, not dangerous. Perhaps even a judicious dose of doubt. Without it we have a tendency to become very close-minded, sacrosanct, locking the door to our mind and preventing anything new from turning on the light bulb of understanding. God is not able to teach us what He wants us to know. Can you imagine Moses on Mt Sinai, without an overwhelming curiosity to know the mind of God? Or the Apostle Paul without incredible curiosity? He overcame all his Pharisee upbringing to give us some of the most revelatory truths of the New Testament.
I was given some great advice by a wise friend in my early years of ministry. He said, “Dave, you need to know what you believe, but hold it lightly.” I have often shared that advice, though it is seldom understood and appreciated. It is usually interpreted as a gateway to heresy. But for me, it became the guiding light to change my beliefs about hearing the Holy Spirit, about ministering to the demonized, about living in grace rather than self-righteous striving. It also put me on a life long study to understand the meaning of the revelations of Daniel and John’s Apocalypse, discarding many cherished and deeply embedded views of Christ’s second coming. I am so very, very glad for the curiosity with which God blessed me.
While visiting Boston recently, I toured the Kennedy Presidential Library. I was impressed by many historical recollections, but one statement in particular captured my mind. All politics aside, consider this statement in light of theology and Biblical interpretation. Students of the Word, take note: “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, pervasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” (JFK, Yale commencement address, 1962)
Have you ever heard this comment? “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.” If that works for you, so be it. I’m sorry, though, but you may be blind and deaf to any facts that contradict what you think you know.
Scott Peck wrote in his book, The Road Less Traveled, some additional insight on curiosity. He wrote, “Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a profound tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there… Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true.”
“Study to show yourself approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of God.” (II Tim 2:15)