Do We Have a Right to Question God?

I want to take a little digression from the list, if I may.  I’d like to ask a question.

Do we have a right to question an All-Powerful Capital G-O-D God?

It’s interesting, I started this draft a couple days ago.  I was involved in some good-natured debating with Christian friends on Facebook and the thought about the struggle it is for Christians who are bothered by doubts about the bible, God, Jesus, etc., to be open about those doubts, especially when they’re involved in ministry.

This post was supposed to simply be a mental exercise, a conversation without much context other than general observation.

Then this happened.  Here’s a secular take on the same event.

In his book, Michael Licona, research professor of New Testament at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina – oh, wait, make that “former” research professer, took exception to the account of the rising of many “saints” upon the death of Jesus Christ in Matthew 24.  In his own words, “Based on my reading of the Greco-Roman, Jewish, and biblical literature, I proposed that the raised saints are best interpreted as Matthew’s use of an apocalyptic symbol communicating that the Son of God had just died.”

It seems Mikey had the gall, the audacity, to do some thinking on his own.  Leading apologist Norman Geisler (the first apologist I went to when my doubts came to a head) condemned Liconia for “denying the full inerrancy of Scripture.”  In a review on Amazon (it can be found on the front page of the above product link) Geisler said, “Finally, the same mistake seems to be occurring in your interpretation of this text as is made by many current liberal scholars in dehistoricizing other biblical texts, namely, using extra biblical sources as determinative for understanding a biblical text. So what if other Roman or Jewish legends are similar? The context of biblical text and other biblical texts are the best way to understand what a given passage is teaching.”

I think this is the PRIMARY problem with Christian apologists who claim to be objective thinkers.  They bring their conclusion to the table then mold the facts to fit their conclusion.  First, Geisler and his ilk are convinced that scripture is inerrant, then everything they read, and every explanation for every batty passage such as this one is shoved into the conclusion like too much dirty laundry into a suitcase on the last day of vacation.

When I was struggling with my own doubts I hid it from everybody, even my agnostic wife.  I was the worship leader of our little church.  I was respected.  I *was* music to this little congregation.  I read and prayed and thought and wrote and read some more, by myself, with nobody looking.  I couldn’t hide it all from my wife, but she didn’t realize where my reading was headed, and of course she just loved me and supported me while I buried myself in books for days.  She’s a good woman 🙂

Why did I hide it?  Because I’m convinced that hopping over to church and announcing that I was struggling with myriad doubts, exploring Buddhist Meditation to deal with my anger, and reading a book by an atheist would have had the place in a tizzy.  I would have been asked to step away from that thing I loved to do, well before I thought I’d be stepping away for good.

I don’t think most Christians deal well with doubts at all, and I think the model of churches and their requirements for service only promote hypocrisy and denial.  While teaching that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart, they look on the outward appearance and if there’s a smile and a wave, a confident conversation, a good, spirit-filled prayer, they assume everything’s okay.  Leaders build up a reputation and they gain respect for their position in the church’s lay hierarchy.  They don’t mean to be hypocritical, but once you build up this niche, it’s like a drug.  You crave the approval, the station, the respect, and the activity itself.

So then when you go into a season of doubt, when you struggle to stay in the groove that got you there, you can’t show it.  The first question will be whether you’re qualified to lead others.  If you have doubts, how on earth are they going to keep you from leading others astray?

It’s completely incongruous with the concept that Christians are themselves simply sinners who have been saved, imperfect people in process who are going to fail, stumble, struggle, wonder, and doubt.

Now, you might be able to say you gossiped, or told a white lie, or forgot to leave a tip, but God forbid (oops) that you wonder if God’s even there, or if the bible is really inerrant, or Jesus really rose from the dead, or why God killed all those women and children, etc.  You’ll be on the outs, before you’ve even come to a conclusion.

On the whole it’s not okay to doubt for a lot of Christians.

To my relief, that’s not universal.  I had a friend PM me last night after seeing a couple Facebook exchanges between me and other Christians that were rather confrontational (though not unfriendly.)  He said he was sorry everyone was being that way to me and just encouraged me to be thorough, investigate, and follow the truth wherever it leads.

Christian or no, that’s the right attitude.

10 thoughts on “Do We Have a Right to Question God?

  1. First – while the image is beautiful, why not go all the way and depict your spouse in Victoria’s Secret Angel garb? I think a little PG-13 would up this blog’s street cred quite a bit 😉

    Second – Abso-freakin-lutely. As I recall my own church experience, doubt was always discouraged, from growing up Protestant with “Don’t be a doubting Thomas” to the latter years in a charismatic church where doubt was never effectively accommodated. It seems that in Christian doctrine, as indicated in John 20, that you get extra blessing when you have not seen, and yet believe – and who doesn’t want extra blessing?

    I think the squelching of doubt in teh church is what contributes most often to creating Swaggerts and Haggards among its leadership. I also think that’s par for the course and it will never change.

  2. Prayer journal, 6.6.10
    “I need to understand what I am learning; please give me understanding. This introduction of the Buddhist philosophies into my worldview is confusing and dangerous. I know there is a quite large chance that everything my friends and family believe is exactly how it is… But I look at this massive world you made and I can’t help but think you had bigger plans. I can’t help but think that you were more global than everyone thinks. Weren’t you there for all those lost souls in Asia for the thousands of years prior to the spreading of the Message to them? What about Africa? God, I believe that you are a God of LOVE.”

    Your mention of practicing Buddhist meditation brought this to mind. I’m continually surprised at the similarity of our journeys!

  3. “Do We Have a Right to Question God?”

    I observe that god has gone to great lengths to be absolutely undetectable. I also accept that she is both omniscient and omnipotent. My complete and total faith in her leads me, logically, to never acknowledge her existence by word or by deed with the single exception that I try to lead others to do as I do. Would that all self styled ‘Christians’ and other believers would show their faith by following my example of complete faith.

    You show me a ‘Christian’ and I’ll show you someone with the weakest of faith.

    • I don’t think that follows at all. Faith is powerful because it eschews doubt and motivates people to act on what they cannot otherwise prove to be real. Faith is believing in the face of all reason. It is casting out our basic ability to rationally evaluate our experience of the world around us in favor of the trusting the musings of a pre-scientific ancient tribal belief system.

      On the other hand, doubt is the ability and the courage to make such evaluation in the face of all the pressures we face, such as in the article referenced above. Doubt is the acting out of the inner drive for truth, truth that we can observe, experience, evaluate, and from those actions draw reasoned conclusions that any reasonable person could draw. Doubt is the willingness to follow the truth, no matter what we find at the conclusion of our search.

      In fact, following our will to evaluate the truth of God with reason is specifically looked down upon in the bible, especially by Paul. We were taught to circumvent our will and replace it with his will, which needs no such exploration, being as the bible would be the perfect expression of that will. Doubt is unnecessary and a sign that we have not surrendered our will with His will.

      I can’t agree with your comment. And I honestly don’t understand it in light of my article and the article referenced.

      I do appreciate you coming by and hope you will continue to check in from time to time.

  4. I do accept as true with all the concepts you’ve presented on your post. They’re really convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for starters. May just you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

    • Hahaha – dan, most people say I go on way too long 🙂 Thanks for the vote of confidence. I haven’t had a lot of time lately due to my day job, but I’ll keep that in mind.

      I do like to be thorough whenever I can. Christians can afford to be glib and keep it simple, because it’s often only under the microscope that platitudes really start to come apart.

      Anyway, thanks for visiting and commenting.

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