What religious questions need answered?

I have been working on a book off-and-on for about five years now. The work began when I was asked a theological question and needed to do some research to find the answer, after which I blogged about it and sent the link to the questioner. That spawned more questions, and more people started to read, and before I knew it I had a regular following going where I was writing daily to answer questions. I managed to do this for about a year before I burnt out.

A couple of years later, I returned to review those essays and begin again. Realizing what rubbish they were, I began rewriting and coming up with new topics. I did this for a while before getting sidetracked with college ministry, school, and work.

Now I’m returning to it for perhaps the fourth time, determined to make some progress, and I’ve already got a couple of chapters in first draft form. As I began my research for the next chapter, though, it occurred to me that the subject has already been clearly answered. An honest reading of the Bible outlines the proper Christian doctrine pretty simply, and a ton of fairly straightforward essays have been published online that deal with the subject matter.

This leaves me with two thoughts.

Thought the first: Why bother?

It has already been written about, and written about well. Why should I repeat what has already been done? This sort of also raises the question, “Why do other people repeat what has already been done?” because the same subjects come up again, and again, and again. I don’t want to waste my time writing what has already been written.

Thought the second: Why do people still not know this stuff?

The second is the more interesting question, and one I find both intriguing and troubling. I learned last year that some of the long-standing questions I had about Christianity had mostly been answered by the Jews thousands of years ago in their interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. Doctrinal questions that Christians and non-Christians alike wrestle with on a regular basis have been laid to rest for millenia, but we never caught on.

Why don’t we learn these things, and why aren’t they taught in our churches? I want to make the connection between these two people groups, these two pools of knowledge, to get the answers to the questioners. I just have to figure out how.

Send me your questions

What’s been bugging you? Bothering you? What passage seems to stick out like a sore thumb? I’m just curious.

Considering Faith

Perhaps the hardest aspect of evangelizing is that the Bible simply doesn’t make sense to a non-believer. I don’t know how many non-Christians I’ve heard say, “I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover, and it’s terrible!” A taoist wrote that the Bible was base and vulgar compared to the Tao Te Ching; long and rambling rather than succint and poetic like a holy text should be. Who cares about long lists of genealogy or measurements of geography? An atheist might remark on the war and violence in the Old Testament and a polytheist might point out that the concept of the Holy Trinity is clearly not monotheistic.

Each of these statements, however, is made in ignorance. The Hebrew Bible, what we Christians call the Old Testament, was written for the Jews who care a great deal about genealogy. It wasn’t just a holy text to them, but also a record of their history. War in the Old Testament only makes sense if you understand the difference between murder and execution (the first committed by an individual, the second by a nation), and the Holy Trinity has always been a matter of faith.

What I have found is that, for every question someone might bring up that attempts to tear down or discredit our faith, there is a reasonable and satisfying answer. But more often than not, the questioner will not seek out the answer simply because they have no faith. With no strong belief that God is good, there is no reason to look beyond base assumptions; one can simply write the Bible off and give up. But for the Christian, it is imperative that we learn the answers to these questions or we will be unable to give an account for our faith. How can we expect someone else to acknowledge even the reasonableness of our beliefs if we cannot state why we hold those beliefs?

If we are unable or unwilling to ask questions, seek answers, and then accept what we find, we must ask ourselves what kind of faith we hold. Are we so unsure and so weak that we fear chasing after the Truth? If that is the case, pray that God helps your unfaith and gives you the strength to seek honestly. He will give answers eventually, but we must remain faithful and steadfast in our desire for God’s Truth.

Thinking about the divine

The blasphemer is, indeed, fundamentally natural and prosaic, for he speaks in a commonplace manner about that which he believes to be commonplace. But the ordinary preacher and religious orator speaks in a commonplace manner about that which he believes to be divine.-G.K. Chesterton

Before I could become Christian, back in 2002, I first had to have all my questions answered, at least to a reasonable extent. Christianity had to make sense to me, and though this didn’t mean that every little question was completely answered (for there still remains a great many questions about God and this world), I needed to find my faith in his righteousness through understanding of his Word. My hope is to help others who seek the same understanding by writing about Christianity and addressing some of those questions.

I do not want to misrepresent myself, though, for I do not mean to imply by the title of this blog that my writing attempts to make the divine common. Rather, I hope to represent the common man by considering simple theological matters that confront us everyday and to discuss these thoughts in a manner that can be understood by all. Like C.S. Lewis writes in the introduction to Mere Christianity, it is not mere because it is small, but because it is foundational. It is the core of our faith.

The thoughts in this blog will wander in and around those core issues, touching on the tangents and seeking to answer the questions that frustrate, confuse, or tempt both Christians and non-Christians alike. It is through questioning and seeking answers that we find the Truth, which is Jesus, and draw closer to God. Therefore it is important that we at least think about these things.

Jesus says that he stands at the door and knocks. If you choose to open the door, but never ask or learn anything further, you haven’t actually walked through it. My hope is to make that step a little easier.