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The Curious Christian Author Q&A

Andy Whisenant | Mar 20th

What is curiosity?

Curiosity is a pursuit of truth. Where people go wrong is when they think of it is as something trite or childish or when they think of truth as merely facts. Truth is reality as God intends it to be and the pursuit of it can take place in every area of life from relationship to entertainment to the arts to the workplace to ministry to social justice to, well, anywhere. Because truth resides everywhere (though it is often veiled or diluted) and we, as image bearers of God, are called to pursue it. That is curiosity.

How has curiosity played a role in your life and Christian walk? Should curiosity be considered a spiritual discipline?

Having been raised in a conservative evangelical context I had the tacit understanding that curiosity was, if not off limits, at least a bit juvenile. But I had this innate desire to know, to learn, and to connect with great ideas and people and it was fostered by my parents. I was interested in many things – sports, books, writing, travel, history, nature – but didn’t have a clear sense of how that fit into a systematized faith centered around Jesus.

Over time I began to realize that each of those interests was not secondary to a love of God but rather an inroad to knowing God more. It was then that Curiosity became intentional for me – something to be fostered, fed, and practiced. I began to see more and more truth about God through people and places and things and ideas where previously I had tried to segment them into buckets of “sacred” and “secular”. I began to learn about appreciating cultures and people and art forms that I had previously overlooked or dismissed outright because they reflect something of God too. And all this has been a result of curiosity on purpose.

I don’t think curiosity is a spiritual discipline but rather a mindset that breathes life into spiritual disciplines. I cringe at the phrase “spiritual discipline” because I fear it will make curiosity boring to too many people. But yes, it is an intentional pursuit that is decidedly spiritual. It is a daily focus on seeing the things of God in the world around us, and it does take discipline and purpose. As we do this our Bible reading, our prayer life, our generosity, our hospitality will all flourish in new and unexpected ways.

What types of questions should Christians be asking on a daily basis?

I think most Christians just need to start asking questions to begin with. Curiosity is less about what particular questions are asked and more about where the questions are pointed. One of the hardest things to do is notice something you have never noticed before or to find a new perspective on something you’ve seen or heard a thousand times, but that is curiosity.

Any question is a good question if it genuinely, humbly seeks truth. And that mindset, that stance of the heart is where curiosity begins. The two things Christians need to focus their curiosity on are God himself and then the opportunities closest to them. God is infinite, so the more questions we ask the more truth we will find leading to only more opportunities for discovery. And as we turn our curiosity on our immediate world we will discover starting places in relationships, neighborhoods, neighbors, our immediate surroundings, or a hundred aspects of life we’d previously overlooked.

What’s the difference between skepticism, doubt, and curiosity? How do each play a role in the Christian life?

Doubt is simply not knowing something, the inability to be sure. It is inherent to being human since we have finite knowledge. We will encounter doubts all the time, and this is neither a good or bad thing. What makes it good or bad is what we do in response – do our doubts lead us to seek answers in God or lead us away from God?

Skepticism is when we mistrust something or someone. This is not a good lens through which to view life most of the time because it distances us from relationship or vulnerability or learning. However, skepticism is necessary in doses because we live in a world marked by sin and one that is full of deceit. We cannot be foolish or gullible in how we interact with it, so sometimes a dash of skepticism is simply wisdom at work.

Curiosity is the pursuit of truth which means it should be the force that take our doubts and points them in a godly, healthy direction and knows how and when to use skepticism. Curiosity can’t be overly skeptical or the pursuit of truth stalls. However, in order to find truth a curious person must have enough judicious skepticism to sort through the nonsense.

How does a Christian who feels like they are not good at being curious cultivate curiosity in their lives? How do they encourage it in others?

Curiosity is not a one-size-fits all thing. It is a mindset that can be pointed in any direction in any life and start anywhere. For some people this might mean grand adventures. For others it will mean taking one small step to read a different genre of book, to drive a different route home, to talk with a neighbor, to take up a hobby, to volunteer somewhere. Being “good” at being curious simply means being intentional about it in little ways or big ways, and that intentionality is where to begin. Now all you have to do is pick what to be intentional about. Over time curiosity makes connections with new ideas or people or places or interests and it will multiply itself.

Curious people are interested people and interested people are interesting people. As you grow in curiosity you will connect more with others and draw them into your curiosity. And you will desire to connect with their curiosity too, wherever it may point. It becomes a multiplying web of interests and passions and connections.

What are you hoping people will do after reading this book?

I hope people feel permission to live curious lives in big ways and small. I hope they pursue the habits of seeing God’s truth in areas of life they had overlooked prior so that they see more of Od and can share more of Him. Because that is why were created, as glory-reflecting image bearers, and I believe Curiosity is how we do that.