One of the side effects of the notion that questioning comes out of our commitments is that not everyone will find our questions equally interesting or important, as they do not share our beliefs. Whether hell exists and whether anyone is in it are important questions to us Christians. But they have a good deal less purchase outside our community as questions. The concepts of hell and its inhabitants may come up as objections, as reasons not to be a Christian. Or they may be raised and explored buy those attempting to understand Christian teaching, on grounds that they are trying to determine whether to enter the faith or not.
But those within the Christian faith approach the question from the stance of having made (and remade and remade!) a confession of sin and of having made a profession that reality’s shape can only be known through faith in the person of Jesus, the judgement of the cross, and the triumph of the ressurection. Such a stance changes what we find plausible as an account of reality and shifts the terrain so that we may find it acceptable to remain Christians without fully working out exactly how hell works or who is in it. What others might consider a reason to not be a Christian, in other words, given ther presuppositions, Christians might only see as a difficulty that we are patiently exploring and working out. We see in that mirror dimly, after all.
What’s more, the limited and partial understanding that we come to through our lives actually shuts off some of the possible paths before us. The moment I got married, the question of whether I was the marrying type was answered definitively and finally. I am not free to “weigh the evidence” about divorce as though it were a fifty-fifty proposition for me. I do not wake up every morning and evaluate things anew and wonder whether I will remain married that day. My commitment to my wife predetermines the questions I am free to pursue.
Of course, I still inquire within and about my marriage. But my questions have changed. Now that I stand within the relationship and see things from the inside, my questions are aimed at living well as a husband. We find ourselves together: How whall we make the best of it? Have I done all I can to create an evironment of warmth and trust? What is it with momen and wicker baskets? How have we ended up here, so busy with our lives with what seems like so little time to talk? Why do all the joys seem so much deeper now, so much more enduring–even though they’re mixed up with moments of pain and distance?
The way we form our lives will move some questions to the margins and bring others to the center. But there can be no questions if there are no commitments. For faith is the necessary framework out of which our search for understanding is pursued. (emphasis mine)
—Matthew Lee Anderson (who blogs here), The End of Our Exploring: A Book About Questioning and the Confidence of Faith, pages 81-82.