When it comes to the word faith, people seem to have opposing interpretations. For instance, some often say, “according to my faith,” or “my faith tells me.” Similarly, when speaking of religion we sometimes use the phrase (though erroneously) “of the so-and-so faith,” as in the Jewish faith; Christian faith; Baha’i faith; Muslim faith; etc. In this sense, faith is seen as a religious system. So then, being a person of faith is synonymous with being a religious person. I have, however, heard some comment that they are not very religious but do have faith. That is, they believe in God but don’t trust religion. There is an obvious contradiction here. What makes matters worse when people talk about faith, religious or non-religious, is that scarcely can they articulate a definition that makes sense. Usually you hear some kind of fluffy answer about an ethereal, indescribable feeling.
THE ABILITY to ask a question is one of the greatest gifts God gave to man. To question something allows us to be able to understand the concept better. Questioning leads to Knowledge, which leads to understanding, which leads to wisdom. We get a formal education in order to be able to ask new questions. People make entire fortunes answering questions no one has asked. Answers are worthless if no one is asking the question.
Questions are essential to Christanity. This may come as a shock to many people who think that questions do not belong to religion. The ability to analyize and reconize the need to an situation is the foundation of Christianity. The following essay hopes to convice the reader that a Christian is characterized by one who asks questions.
Questions are biblical. You see.
Genesis 3:1 NAS Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?”
Now, some may find it kind of ironic that the first recorded question in the Bible is by Satan. However, it could be demostrated that the first recorded book of the Bible is the book of Job, and here, God is the first one asking the questions.
Job 1:7-8 7 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
We can see here that questions can be used in mulitiple ways. In the first, Satan uses a question to cast doubt into what God has commanded. Look at how the NLT recordes this:
Genesis 3:1 NLT Genesis 3:1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
Did God really Say. Now, some would say “See you’re not to question anything that God has said! Don’t you know He is soverign?” Now notice that Satan did not sin by asking the question, the sin was lying and claiming that God would not make men subject to death. (Genesis 3:4)
Some say that the process of creating doubt or having it, is a sin. Doubt is something that is given by God to be the directors of investigation. If you doubt that the fastest way to get from point A to point B is by running, then you might use horses or a wheel. If you doubt that the sun is the center of the universe, you’ll do something to prove it otherwise. Doubt is the stuff that causes us to question our current situation, and leads us to want something more.
Wanting something more is not a sin. Our first parents could have easilly handled this desire by taking this doubt to God. When we take this doubt that we have an do not consult God about it, dangerous things can happen.
What happens when you doubt God? There is a certain kind of faith that expresses doubt in this way “I know that God can do better than this”. This idea expresses the doubt that not all of God’s promises are unlocked, and the full potential of a situation is capable of being expressed. This kind of doubt is expressed by Abraham in the destruction of Sodom.
Genesis 18:24-26 24 What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing– to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?” 26 So the LORD replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Its imporant to note that it was not God who stopped giving out the promises, but it was Abraham who stopped asking of God. He doubted that fifty would be found there, and doubted that this was God’s best deal. This is an healthy doubt.
Today, doubt and questining is needed in the Christian community. There are many people who come to Church who soak in everything the preacher says without scanning the infomation for themeselves. There are many ministers also who will say things that they hear on TBN or some other network and simply regurtergate what they hear.
Some common examples:
“the Trinity is a contradiction but we believe it anyway.”
”God helps those who help themselves”
“We’re not punished for our sins but by them”
“Have the faith the size of a mustard seed”
It was God given doubt that allowed a monk in the 15th century to doubt the idea that salvation could be bought or by works. It takes doubt to challenge the assumption that the Holy Scriptures are subject to the laws of man. It takes doubt to stop bowing down to images and to statues. It takes doubt to challenge the idea that the Scriptures can only be in one language. People doubted and challegnged and reformed the Church in the past, and it can be done again today.
Some Christian groups deal with doubt better than others. A friend an I were canvassing in a housing project near our University. We were praying with people, giving out phamplets, reconizing the needs of people and taking prayer requests. Then something happend that was out of the ordinary, some Mormon missionaries parked their bikes on the houses down from us! This was a very intreseting situation, so we went to meet them. It was a very enjoyable experience (Mormons are some of the nicest people on earth) and they offered us some of their tracts. We took them. Beacuse we wanted them to know the truth, we gave them some of our tracts. Then something unexpected happend: they didn’t accept our tracts. Their church prohibits their members from accepting materials not produced by their church (I later learned that the ‘organization’ of the Jehovah’s Witnesses do the same thing). I define cults as organizations/groups that prohibit their adhearents from access to certain kinds of infomation. What these organizations are afraid of is that certain pieces of infomation will cast doubt in the organization. This leads to questining, and it could follow that they will leave the organization. Therefore its better for the organization that their members not think critically for themselves.
Other groups, such as the Amish, let thier members explore the world. They are free to read materials of a non-sexual nature, and they are free to engage in religious discussions with persons that are not of their community. They also let their children explore the wonders of the modern world, to let them decide for themselves if they want to join the community.
Universities were created to help deal with doubt. Christians who had doubts about their faith would often come to these places to speak to people who had those doubts and overcame them. Learning takes place when people doubt something, when they ask questions and set out to find answers.
Some answers we will not like. Some questions have answers that require that our lifestyle change.
Acts 16:27-34 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, because he assumed the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul called out loudly, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 Calling for lights, the jailer rushed in and fell down trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him, along with all those who were in his house. 33 At that hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized right away. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set food before them, and he rejoiced greatly that he had come to believe in God, together with his entire household.
The Jailer had a situation in which his entire worldview was in doubt. He like millions of people after him, asked the most important question that he could ask “What must I do do be saved?”. It was a result of that question that led his entire household to be saved.
When a person doubts the humanistic and naturalistic philsophies of this world, and they go with their questions to look for answers, Christians should be ready.
1 Peter 3:15-16 15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments 5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.
In today’s world, every Christian should be able to tear down every argument that exalts itself aganist faith in God. While many might agree with this, Christians don’t generally apply it to their life. For example, if they beleive that homosexuality is a sin, they won’t express it to their friends if the topic comes up in conversation. Or, if they beleive that the termination of an unborn human being is evil, they won’t support legesigation that seeks to support their views by climing that “its someone’s choice”. When told that they can’t pray inside of their classroom, these types of Christians will cease praying. They will listen to degrading music inside of their own vehicle just to appease their friends. Lets not talk about how they will ignore the battlegrounds of YouTube and Facebook and promote secular viewpoints.
And its not their fault.
Christianity has traditionally taught that doubt was something that you should shut up inside of you, that the Church was not to be questioned. Though historically and acaademlly, the Church is and was questioned all the time, the average member was not exposed to these debates. But now the time has come for Christians everywhere to doubt. To doubt the traditions, philosophies and customs of this world. To doubt what is taught in your church and for you to know what you believe, why you beleive it and where it is found in the word of God. These kinds of Christians who doubt and question everything will find that their faith can sustain constant scrunity, and will not be challenged when someone from outside of their faith community challenges it.
Matthew 24:24-25 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 Remember, I have told you ahead of time.
Revelation 13:13-14 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
Many people will be deceived in the end of time beacuse they did not doubt. They did not doubt what their senses told them. They beleived the religious leaders of their day and did not question what they said.
Colossians 2:8 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
The answer isn’t for us to abandon YouTube and join GodTube. You may think Wikipedia is too liberal; so we’re going to use Conservapedia. As Christians we should deal with doubt and find answers, not to simply change the channel.
As we deal with doubt, its also important to know where to get the answers to your questions. You can’t beleive everything on the internet, including this site. Let me demostrate. If your car is running ackwardly, it would be best for you to go to a mechanic. If your head, back and stomach are hurting..it would be wise for you to go to a physican. If you want to invest in some mutural funds; a financial advisor might be better for you then E-Trade. These people are specialist in their field. They went to school to get an education which makes them qualified to perform that particular professional service. Why would you not go to a minister to recieve some answers to your questions?
Now, let me clarify by ‘minister’. A ‘qualified minister’ is someone who went to an accrediated university and got some degree in theology. Philsophy, while wonderful, is not theology and therefore should be discounted. Jesus’ disciples spent three years under His direction before they were sent out to ministry. Most theology students spend four years in undergraduate; learn Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic). Some go on to graduate school where they recieve a Divinity of Ministry degree (D.Min). This would be a better source for answers to your questions that involve your eternal life. Be humble and drive to somone who went through tranining, just like you would drive to the financial planner or to the mechanic. Do not consider yourself weak, its doing your research. You’ll find a much fruitful response to your question than on the Neighborhood Bishop, Yahoo! Answers, WIkipedia or YouTube.
Doubt, Questions and Research are the things that make society great. It allows us to discover more about our world and helps to make it a better place. Midguided questions could lead to disease, war and anger. Questions that are done in humility lead to making the world a better place.