I am afraid to write this, for I am sure that many of my friends (and certainly my family) will want to express amazement and even disbelief that it could be possible that I might even for a moment think or admit that ‘I don’t know’!
‘You are the one who “knows everything”’ they will mockingly say.
I suppose I have to admit that I do give that impression. Not terribly proud of that!
However, I think that in the main any claim to knowledge is about ‘general knowledge’; I know a lot of historical facts and about current affairs and certain types of music and so on. I often fantasise about applying to go on Mastermind or even ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’. But in the end I settle for winning at ‘Trivial Pursuit’.
But my ‘don’t knows’ are more about ‘why’ and ‘how’ rather than ‘what’. Ask me what year was the Battle of Bannockburn or what is the name of the Minister of Defence(War) in Churchill’s WW2 Cabinet (and that is a trick question!) or who is President of the European Commission and I can give you an answer. Which may be mildly interesting but – in the final analysis – may not be all that useful.
It is more in group discussions or theological debates or Bible Studies – or still more in difficult and tragic pastoral contexts - when people ask... well what do you (the Minister, the theologically educated one, our ‘resident expert’) think, that I very often find myself saying ‘I don’t know’.
Now, I do say more than just that. But I do not have easy answers to every enquiry. As has been said by others, the more I go on in the Christian walk the more and more sure I am about less and less. (and no, don’t panic, I am not going through any kind of ‘faith crisis’!)
And here’s the thing.... I find that admitting that there are things I don’t know and regarding which I cannot venture an opinion has actually helped many seekers and searchers, doubters and questioners, and those facing difficult real life situations.
So maybe it is good to admit when we truly don’t know... and yet still believe.
Now, if only I could work out what I think about Scottish Independence... but really ‘I don’t know’!