Do Questions Destroy Faith?

In order to learn, a person has to admit they don’t know something. People who “know everything,” or at least act like they do, are destined to become really dumb people, maybe not in their minds, but certainly in the minds of everyone who deals with them.

One of the traits of dumb people is lying to protect their pretend intelligence. If they don’t know the answer, rather than say, “I don’t know,” they will come up with something, or at least bash you for being so stupid as to not know that, “Pssh, everyone knows that,” is the attitude conveyed to avoid showing they really don’t know either.

Christianity, being made up of people, has lots of dumb people in it. I remember in the church I grew up in there was a guy who would always quote verses on Sunday and Wednesday night church service.

When I was older, I mentioned this guy to my dad. “He really seems to know what he’s talking about,” I said, “He’s always quoting verses.”

My dad laughed and said, “If you’ll notice, he knows four verses and will find a way to quote one of them in every conversation.” Oh.

The guy had me fooled!

Often, know-it-all types assume that questions show doubt. If you had faith you wouldn’t doubt and, therefore, you wouldn’t ask questions.

Is faith endangered in asking too many questions?

I have known people who “had faith” who began asking questions. Doubts were put in their head by someone, so they began to question everything. The more they questioned, the more confused they became. They concluded you can’t know anything and Christianity was all a hoax.

Many of these people, while falling away, ask questions of believers and no matter what is said, they will have a problem with it and use it as “more proof” that Christianity is bogus.

It happens. I don’t think this ruined anyone’s faith; I think it merely showed their faith wasn’t true faith, which is also a helpful thing to know.

Honest questions, asked to learn something, not merely to doubt stuff, will only strengthen faith.

Again, the purpose of asking a question is to get an answer. The problem is not asking a question; the problems arise more with your response to the answers!

Asking God Questions

The absolute, most irritating part of the Bible to me is in Matthew 22:24-28. It drives me crazy. I read the Bible from cover to cover and every time I come across this passage (and it’s repeated) I can’t read these verses.

These snide testers who have no interest in learning but rather in making Jesus Christ look stupid, ask this ridiculous question about a woman with a dead husband and then marries all the deceased guys’ brothers and who will she be married to in heaven.

Oh man. I can hear their tone of voice. I can see their little smirks. I can only imagine what Jesus Christ is thinking in His head. I am always stunned at how calm and composed He is after their dumb question is over.

Jesus calmly says, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” I love that, “You do err.” I believe that is King James for, “That was a really, really stupid question.”

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, who humbled Himself in the form of a servant to take on Himself the sin of the world and die with that burden. And He has to spend time listening to drivel like this.

It boggles my mind. How would you like it if you were that guy who asked that question and have that be recorded for eternity that you, at the one time in your little life you had a chance to talk to God in the flesh, you opened with that?

It is one thing to ask a dumb question of another human, because we are all dumb in our own way. But asking a dumb question of God does not seem like a good idea.

Now, God has shown Himself to be patient with questions. His patience with “Am I my brother’s keeper” and Jonah’s problems is encouraging for us.

God is big enough to handle questions. He’s big enough to handle your humble admission that you just don’t get it.

There is Such a Thing as a Stupid Question

Last week’s post about it being OK to have questions inspired comments from several people about wanting more on the subject. Being the accommodating guy I am, I will say some more about questions.

There are good questions and bad questions. It’s not that easy to define the difference. It’s easy to say “Don’t ask entrapment questions like the Pharisees” except that Jesus asks them these kinds of questions of them all the time.

The basic underlying point is that we should ask questions that are asked to make a spiritual point, ones that are helpful for growth from either the questioner or the one being questioned.

The Bible makes it clear that there is such a thing as a stupid question. Scripture contains four warnings about getting caught up in asking stupid questions.

1 Timothy 1:4–“Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions”
1 Timothy 6:4–false teachers are “doting about questions and strifes of words.”
2 Timothy 2:23–“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid,”
Titus 3:9–“avoid foolish questions”

As much as I’m for asking questions and testing the spirits, it also seems like Christians are good at asking all the wrong questions at all the wrong times. They are often phrased as attacks and serve the purpose of trying to make who ever spoke last look immature and heathenish, as well as serve to encamp warring factions.

The Pharisees were great at asking questions and were anything but spiritual people. Their questions consisted of backing people into corners and playing logic tricks on them. Their intent was not to learn, but to prove their intellectual superiority.

This is great fun, I’ve done it many times myself and it is also wrong. The purpose of a question is to gain understanding, not to brag about the supposed understanding you already have.

Asking questions is good and every believer should do it. Believers should make sure, however, that their questions are for the use of edifying rather than arguing.

Liars, Ryan Braun and Grace

My son has a poster of Ryan Braun on his door. For those of you from outside the States who read this blog, Ryan Braun is a dominant baseball player from Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.

This past week he got suspended for the rest of the season for using Performance Enhancing Drugs. He’s juiced. This comes as no shock to anyone who has been paying attention to Major League Baseball.

It’s a sad thing. My son has lost some faith in people, which I’m not entirely opposed to! My son is a bit more cynical now. Braun got in suspicion for PED’s a couple years ago and got away with it and maintained his innocence.

He lied. Constantly. I knew he was lying. Everyone else knew he was lying. My son wanted to believe him and sort of convinced himself Braun wasn’t lying. But he was, and now everyone knows it, and Braun looks like a fool.

Lies generally work out that way. They make you look really dumb. Truth has a way of surfacing.

There are now two groups of people responding to Ryan Braun’s trouble

1) Those who condemn
2) Those who forgive

The condemners are mostly non-Brewer fans, although there are a number of Brewer fans who want blood right now.

The forgivers are mostly people who like Braun and the Brewers and are willing to be lenient, although there are some who like him who are really hurt now. His contract with Milwaukee is through 2020, so I guess Brewer fans will have to be lenient.

Since Milwaukee is a small market team, pretty much the whole world hates Ryan Braun and wishes him ill.

Because, as you may know, Ryan Braun is the only sinner out there who lies to make his appearance look better than it is.

I like Ryan Braun and I’ll give him forgiveness. I did not like Barry Bonds and have a tough time granting him forgiveness!

I’m glad God is the judge! God is the one who grants forgiveness and shows no respect of persons. God will not be more lenient on Braun because God is a Brewers fan, nor more harsh on Bonds because He can’t stand teams from California.

God will take care of it. Let the system dole out its punishments in the meanwhile. Judge nothing before the time when God sorts it all out and every single one of our mouths will be shut. This goes for David, Rahab, Braun, Bonds, me, you and everyone.

Why Christians Can’t Ask Questions

Messy people are used by God. It is very easy for us to judge David, Rahab, Eve, Jonah, Job’s friends and anyone else who doesn’t do what we think they should. It is easy for us to forget our sin and our foibles and assume if our lives were recorded in the Bible they’d look so much better.

My initial post on all this got a rise, one I knew would come. I even hesitated doing the post knowing the rise would ensue. In one sense, I’m glad there was a rise because it meant thinking was occurring. In another sense, I think this is why the Church has been so devoid of logic. People like things clean, straightforward, no fuss no muss.

We are uncomfortable with the brutal truth of Biblical history, we’re so uncomfortable thinking about it, we’d like others to quit thinking about it too.

One of the comforts of organized religion is that you never have to think. If you are indoctrinated with how people think, you become a follower of “your guys,” all questions are answered and you can skate through life with much assurance.

If you crack the covers of your Bible, however, and begin to read, you’re going to be confronted with stuff. Stuff that will inspire questions. Stuff that will make you have thoughts some will condemn you for ever thinking. When the boat begins to rock, the rockers will get tossed into the drink!

God does not mind people thinking. God even seems lenient to those who think wrongly as long as they respond correctly when shown the right way to think (Then there’s Jonah who never quite seemed to think right and I have no idea what to do with him, but I’m glad he’s in there!).

Christian liberty is a fine thing. We love talking about it. We’re all for it, until someone thinks a thought that we don’t like. Do we have the patience and love to help each other grow and learn? Or will we shoot down those who question?

Do we have the patience and love to deal with fellow sinners sinning in ways we don’t sin because our sins are so much less-sinny?

We stand in Christ. All else is a sinful, confusing mass of destruction.