A quality regularly celebrated in the Western world is that of asking questions, whether out of curiosity or scepticism. For example, my dad got a popular science book for Christmas entitled, Question Everything, with the book being structured around questions asked by the scientifically-minded public. Now I know that something I’ve done before on this blog is to set up an idea that is generally considered good (like happiness) and said why I don’t necessarily agree with the general consensus on that issue. With this idea of questioning, however, I think it should be encouraged and actually incorporated more into conversations about faith and religion, and I know that I am not alone in this opinion.
There is a place for questions in conversations between non-Christians and Christians. I’d imagine that a lot of Christians reading this can think of times when their non-Christian friends have asked them about their faith, and that’s good! Direct questions are the most blatant opportunities that we have to share what we believe. Sometimes the questions can be more hostile, or can be asked to trick us, but they’re still opportunities to represent God to those people.
However, in those conversations, Christians shouldn’t have to feel like they are being interrogated. That’s not how a good dialogue works. Christians asking the questions can be just as good for opening up the sometimes thorny topic of God and religion. For example:
- What do you think is wrong with the world?
- What do you think makes a person ‘good’?
- Why do you think that God doesn’t exist?
And more generally
- What do you believe?
These questions aren’t particularly intrusive, aggressive or difficult, but stuff like this can be fantastic for moving conversations about faith along and actually engaging in a meaningful way with friends and family, as opposed to them just taking an opportunity to grill you or you trying to subtly stick God into a conversation somewhere.
There is also a place for questions within Christianity itself, a place that I believe is ignored more often than it should be. The truth is that Christianity is not always simple, the Bible is not always an easy book to read, and we won’t agree with everything that other Christians say. Are these insurmountable issues? Of course not! But the sad fact is that they regularly lead to disputes and divisions within the Church. Part of the problem arises from people not taking the time to ask questions to work out what they believe and what the other person/group believes.
Here are some questions that are rarely asked, but can be fantastic to try and answer:
- What does [insert Christianese jargon here] mean?
- Is God’s love really unconditional? (What about John 14:21?)
- How do we know God is a trinity? (It’s never said in the Bible…or is it?)
- [Pretty much any question about Revelation]?
- Why did Jesus have to rise from the dead after dying for our sins?
Those are just some examples that I’ve thought up when writing this, and I’m sure there are many more. The point I’m trying to make is that if you have questions as a Christian, you shouldn’t have to be afraid to ask them. It is through that dialogue that we can all grow and learn, and in fact become better equipped to deal with the kind of questions that non-Christians might have in the conversations I talked about earlier.
I also just want to say that I’m not trying to over-intellectualise Christianity. I’m not trying to Westernise it more (it doesn’t need my help for that, anyway) and turn it into something that it was never meant to be. What I’m trying to get you guys to think about is the way that we engage with the challenges posed to us by non-Christians and Christians alike within this Western society, and to be able to cope with them in a way that encourages dialogue and unity. In the case of questions among Christians, a question posed to someone you disagree with should be far less harmful than an accusation thrown at them. We should try and understand each other, because I believe that will help us love each other better. And as Christians and as humans, if we don’t have love, then we don’t have anything.