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Questioning Questions?

April 11, 2016

Are we allowed to ask questions in church?

That might seem like a strange question; why shouldn’t we be? Well, it seems that in the world of religion, asking questions has not always been acceptable. When going door-to-door we once met a woman who gave up on church while still at school. Why? Because she asked her teacher how Jesus could multiply bread and fish, and was sent to the naughty corner!

Where did this strange idea come from, that it’s wrong to ask questions? How else are we supposed to learn things? Jesus was constantly asking and answering questions – after all, that was the standard rabbinical method of teaching.

I think the explanation is quite simple. Teachers and preachers, who were simply passing on religious teaching they didn’t quite understand, discovered they didn’t actually have answers to certain difficult or unexpected questions. They then assumed – wrongly – that since they didn’t know the answers, there were no answers.

Some also seem to believe that questions equal doubts. The Bible never says that. Even though faith, in the sense of trust and commitment, is commended in the Bible, it never means “blind faith”. Our faith is based on eye-witness reports, OT prophecies and personal experience: evidence that can be analysed and investigated. God doesn’t have a problem with questions, only with people who refuse to accept the answers.

So, are there any questions?

 

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

2 Comments
  1. Yeah, just a few? What are these “eye-witness reports” you’re talking about? Don’t say Paul. He wasn’t there, but that’s where most articulation of the Christian faith comes from. Don’t say the Gospels. They were written decades after the fact in a language Jesus and his disciples didn’t even speak and most scholars doubt that they were written by true eye-witnesses. There is actually an enormous amount of scholarship on this. So if you’ve got questions, feel free to ask tough ones that shake your faith.

  2. I assume that you’re an atheist – thanks for reading my blog! And by all means, ask the tough questions! Just bear in mind that most of them have already been asked by countless Christians over the centuries.
    And allow me to point out that you might be trusting your authorities a bit too unquestioningly…
    What “most scholars” believe very much depends on who you ask and which scholars you choose to include. A number of scholars started doubting the truth of the gospels because they had decided miracles can’t happen; and if miracles can’t happen, stories about them can’t be eye-witness reports! But if you don’t start by discarding miracles, there’s no real reason for discarding the gospels as eye-witness reports.
    Yes, two gospels were written by non-eyewitnesses – and even if all of them were, that doesn’t change the fact that they report what the eye-witnesses told them. If there hadn’t been eye-witnesses, the story would never have been told in the first place (because nobody would invent such a weird tale and try to convince people it’s true).
    The language is totally irrelevant: when I meet my parents I tell them in Swedish what I’ve been doing in England; I have often shared in English about my previous ministry in Albania. Even if the eye-witnesses shared their stories in Aramaic, it made sense to write them down in Greek – just as the BBC always reports in English what Putin has said in Russian.
    I got married 20 years ago; I can still tell you most of what happened that day, because it was an incredibly important day! The resurrection was even more important, so it makes sense that the first disciples – the eye-witnesses – would have remembered the main details until they died.
    We also have to realise that in non-literary cultures, people are much better at learning things by heart and remembering them. And the first Christians kept sharing the story with people all the time – it’s not like they kept quiet for 20-30 years and then suddenly had to remember what had happened.

    So keep asking your questions – but be open to unexpected answers! Check out Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, for example: he was an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity and ended up converted…
    BTW, I have read both Dawkins and Hitchen, just so you know that I’m not shying away from the hard questions!

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