Questioning the Answers

Some Christians pride themselves in their ability to answer questions. On a moment’s notice, they are ready to pull out their Bibles and declare the Answer (God’s Answer, they will say) to whatever topic is at hand. There is virtually nothing that is outside their realm of expertise – be it science, theology, ancient languages, or history. Such people are convinced that a careful student of the scriptures can find conclusive facts on all of those subjects in their big black book. And if you don’t agree with their Answers, then – well, your problem is with God, and you really ought to be ashamed of yourself.

I used to admire Christians like that. In fact, I wanted to be one of them, and would often put on a show of acting like I could pull the Answers out of my own Bible. 

But then a funny thing happened.

The longer I listened to to other Christians try to give all of the Answers, the less satisfied I became with what I was hearing. Worse yet, as I tried to come up with the Answers myself, I began to realize that, more often than not, I couldn’t say anything that was definitive.

It wasn’t that I was ready to abandon my faith or anything. It was just that I was wondering whether Christians could really be so sure about all of the things that we were saying. It struck me that there was a lot more room for gray areas than we were letting on.

At first, I kept my questions to myself. You can get into a lot of trouble when you start asking church people questions when they are convinced that God has already settled the issue. But eventually, I got to the point where I was ready to start asking out loud what I had been thinking for years.

And at about the same time, I discovered something really cool: other people – lots of other people – were having the same experience! They were even asking the same questions that I was asking. For whatever reason, I discovered, a large number of Christians are suddenly becoming uncomfortable with some of the Answers. And we’re looking for new ones.

Here are a few of the questions I’ve been hearing a lot:

1. Does God intend to punish people who don’t accept Christianity as their faith? Even good people who consientiously participate in other religions? Even people who try to live out their life in a way that is similar to the teachings of Jesus?

2. Is all of the Bible historical? Are some stories mythological? Or fictional? Designed to make us think about a subject rather than tell us about an historical event?

3. Why aren’t gays and lesbians made to feel welcome and comfortable in our churches?

4. Does the Bible promise wealth and prosperity if we do what God asks of us?

5. What is the Holy Spirit? What does he do?

6. Does God really think USAmerica is special – better than the other nations? Has he made us powerful just because some of us say we’re a “Christian” nation?

7. Should Christians support war and violence?

Those are a few, at least.

But enough of my questions. Is anyone else out there questioning the Answers? If so, you’re reading the right blog. What are some questions that you’ve been asking?

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7 Responses to Questioning the Answers

  1. nick says:

    i think your question number 3 is especially important. it made me think of my biggest question:

    “shouldn’t Christianity be more about me learning to love God, my neighbors, my sisters and brothers, and my enemies, and less about flipping through a book to decide whom to hate, dislike, spurn, or judge?”

    i pray that my life will more fully reflect the answer.

  2. Yep, I’m reading the right blog. I would give an unusual answer to all of those. Well, unusual with respect to say Pat Roberts or Foy Wallace. And Nick, you are right.


  3. Thurman8er says:

    Relationships, relationships, relationships. I’m not a real “relationshippy” kinda guy, but I’ve come to a point in my walk where I’ve realized that’s not ok. God wants real relationship with us and for us to have relationships with the church AND the world. I find myself struggling with many of the same questions, but I find that what answers I’m able to voice always start in the same place: relationally.

  4. osipov says:

    are you interested in our ideas on these questions?

  5. Matt says:

    Thanks, all, for the comments. I read them all, and try to respond to as many as I can.

    Osi-in a sense most of this blog is about having conversations about those questions, so…yes, I’m interested in exploring how different people are dealing with them, as well as sharing what I am doing with them.

  6. curtis says:

    I know I’m a little late in the game on commenting…

    But #1 and #2 are ones that I keep coming back to… Trying to figure out whether or not the “traditional” (read: last couple hundred years) answers to these are the ONLY answers… But like you said, people get SO nervous, even angry/defensive, if you even hint at wanting to discuss those topics. But my feeling has always been that God’s Truth (whatever that may be in any given situation) will find us if we seek it, and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about just about ANYTHING…

  7. justin says:

    I’m coming in even later then Curtis on this one, but I still wanted to through some thoughts out there.

    I found your site a few days ago and browsing through your posts has been part of my daily routine for the past couple of days. This post especially rings true with me. Man, how I wanted to be someone who knew all the answers and had it all figured out (I still do in some ways…). I know people who do seem like they have it all figured out, and I wanted to be like them. But one thing I am really learning is that I’m never gonna figure it all out. And to take it a step further, I am beginning to wonder about many of the things I thought I had figured out. However, at the same time, I am starting to believe that God is less concerned with how much we have figured out (theological or otherwise) and more concerned with how much we love him and love those around us.

    Great post! Maybe I’ll try to give some of my thoughts on those questions another day 🙂

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