March 25, 2011

Asking Questions and Questioning

Amazon finally delivered my copy of Rob Bell's Love Wins.  I hate the thought that I spent money on this, but I know that I need to read it in order to better interact with people about it.  The first thing I noticed about the book is that it has a waterproof dust jacket.  That might be a good thing.

The first chapter is mostly questions.  Questions are great.  Questions are wonderful, especially when they are being asked in the sense of faith seeking understanding.  Unfortunately, questions can also be asked in another way.  Sometimes questions are nothing more than rhetorical devices being used to make a point, and that is what Bell is doing here. 

Some people ask questions in the sense of faith seeking understanding.  Other people ask questions in the sense of doubt seeking influence

There is a difference between asking questions and questioning.  More precisely, there is a difference between asking questions about what God as told us and questioning what God has told usWhat is annoying is the sly and ingenuous way that some people shift between these two meanings.  They want to retain the nobility of asking questions, but slip in the subversiveness of questioning that which they disagree.

For example, consider this statement from Methodist pastor Chad Holtz who was recently fired by his church after he voiced his support for Rob Bell's view on hell: 
"The people at my church are good, decent people," he told FoxNews.com. "They’re simply feeling a little threatened by a pastor who is asking questions that they don’t want to ask right now. I hope some seeds are planted and that God will bring some good about it."
This is sly and manipulative.  He wants people to receive the impression that he is innocently asking question--faith seeking understanding--when in fact he had already landed on his conclusions.  According to the article, he "lost the idea of hell" and now believes that "God has saved everyone."  This church did not dismiss this pastor because they felt threatened by honest questions.  They dismissed him because he was trying to persuade others to disbelieve what they saw taught in God's Word.  This is the same thing that Rob Bell is doing with his questions. 

Questions are great.  I love it when students ask hard questions.  Any theology or worldview that does not allow for honest hard questions is not worth believing.  Questions lead to answers.  Honest questions are great because they can lead us to honest answers.  The difference is that some questions are asked to generate answers; others are asked to generate doubt.

When the serpent asked, "Did God really say...?" he wasn't looking for an answer. 

4 comments:

  1. The question of the serpent in the garden is the same one I've been using with interacting with people on the whole "Rob-Bell-is-only-asking-questions" discussion.

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  2. Rob Bell asked some questions that had been bugging me for a long time. And... I don't think Rob Bell was intending to so much question scripture as he was intending to question our interpretation of it. And... I think God can handle us asking questions.

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  3. God can definitely handle it...but I think many people will be led astray by this.

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  4. 'Some people ask questions in the sense of faith seeking understanding. Other people ask questions in the sense of doubt seeking influence.

    There is a difference between asking questions and questioning. More precisely, there is a difference between asking questions about what God as told us and questioning what God has told us'

    Excellent. Couldn't agree more. Some very helpful points made here.

    ReplyDelete

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