Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When Should We Question?

I just read an interesting post at a blog called Christ and Pop Culture. I honestly don't listen to much contemporary music so I'm not familiar with the artist they're discussing, David Bazan. But apparently he has recently renounced his Christian faith and has released an album of songs that reflect anger with God and doubts about His motives.

The author of the article, Chase Livingston, goes on to say he wasn't surprised because 1) it seems to be happening to a number of his friends lately, when the questions and the doubts get to be too much, and 2) he had always heard questions and doubts in Bazan's music even when he was a confessed Christian. In fact, Livingston says he had liked Bazan's lyrics for that daring to pose realistic questions that a lot of Christians wouldn't admit to. He thought that posing questions could actually strengthen faith. Now, however, he's wondering about the difference between questioning that builds up or tears down.

I find this discussion to be really pertinent as I search for the kind of stories I want to read--and write. I sometimes feel like the Goldilocks of the literary world. This book over here is too sweet and unrealistic in the way all problems are explained and everything works out for the good guys who believe in God. No one has questions that can't be answered. Then this one over here is so full of questions and doubts that it leaves me feeling depressed and miserable. There are publishers whose lists of guidelines are unbelievably rigid--down to the point of not allowing Christian characters to say the word "darn" or play cards. Then there are groups espousing faith and literature who seem to believe that books just aren't any good unless they poke and prod at every belief.

I've noticed, even in the Bible, that sometimes those who question are rebuked by God--and sometimes He responds in a gentle manner and comforts them. So when should we swallow our doubts and keep them to ourselves, lest we hurt the faith of others or even offend the Lord? When should we share our questions and be transparent and discuss them openly?


  1. I read their post earlier today, and it is pretty upsetting that someone who has supposedly walked with God could turn their back on Him. God says that we who are His are protected by Him, sealed by His Spirit, and not allowed to be snatched away, and that He will complete the good work He began in us. So what does that mean for someone like this guy? Was he really a true believer? Will God bring him back one day like the prodigal son?

    As for the question of doubts, I'm careful about who I try to share questions with, because I know that sometimes I wish certain things were not planted in my head, and once they are, they are difficult to get out. So as far as art goes, I'm not exactly sure.

    In praying to God, though, I believe full confession, even of our doubts, is the best way, if they are with an honest, respectful heart. But in the end, the questions will either turn into faith or doubt. For me, I can roll a question around in my head for months trying to logic it out, and it may never make it better. In that situation, which has happened to me a lot lately, I have to try to remember that just as my actions will never be perfect, neither will my thoughts or understanding, and I need to be thankful for the One who lived perfectly for me, and maybe I need to stop trying so hard, and trust. I'm still working on this, though!

  2. I think maybe the key is pride. God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways higher than our ways. If we are prideful enough to think we know everything, or that we can figure everything out, then yes, we might just turn against God. But we will never understand everything. Our minds are finite and therefore will never be able to reason everything out. We have to come to a point where we humbly say to God, "I don't understand this, but I trust you. You are my hope and my joy and I accept that I won't be able to use my reason to come up with answers to all my questions."
    When a person turns their back on God, the Bible says it's like a dog returning to its vomit. It's bad. God understands that we have questions, but he only gives us what we can handle. That applies to trials that we will face, but I think it also applies to our knowing everything. We couldn't handle knowing everything, so he doesn't reveal all knowledge to us.

    What do you think?