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Healthy Agnosticism 
By C&MA President, David Hearn

A few days ago, I sat by a grave marker that is now over 30 years old. The inscription is faded, but you can still make out the name, Daniel James Hearn. Our son was born very preterm at 28 weeks and only lived 30 hours. I remember holding him in my arms and being overwhelmed with how small and fragile he was. Agnes and I stayed by his incubator and watched his every breath—until he breathed his last. There were many medical complications and Daniel was not strong enough to fight them all. Agnes and I were heartbroken. It was a time in my life when I experienced a soul-shaking that left me empty, devastated, and asking God “Why?” Nicky Gumbel suggests that, “There is such a thing as healthy agnosticism, or what might be described as a biblical agnosticism. There are some questions to which we do know the answer. But there are other questions to which the best answer we can give is, ‘I don’t know.’”1 One of those questions is, “Why does God allow suffering?”

The book of Job reaches a climax in chapters 38-42. After numerous pages of Job and his friends asking God questions, the tables turn and God starts asking questions. He asks Job 49 questions—in poetic language—about the natural universe to which Job, if given the chance, would surely respond, “I don’t know.” The Lord’s complaint about Job’s friends was that they spoke “words without knowledge.” (Job 38:2) Instead of simply saying, “I don’t know,” they tried to explain Job’s suffering. The point of God’s questioning is to demonstrate that there are certain things we do not know as human beings—the secret things belong to the Lord our God.

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