This is the introduction to a series of articles asking and processing through hard questions. I would love for you to join me as I process and discuss questions I have wrestled with. Please feel free to ask any questions of your own either in the comments below or on the Discussion side of the website.
The Rebelution is where teenagers rebel against low expectations, dreaming and pursing the impossible with all of our abilities, right? So if we can do hard things then we for sure can think and process hard things. If you don’t believe this, check out the discussion side of the website to witness teenagers currently asking and discussing hard questions.
Over the next several weeks or months, I would like to ask a few hard questions of my own.
As anyone who has grown up in a conservative Christian setting, there are many issues — doctrines, beliefs, practices — I have struggled to accept or want.
On some of the issues, I have come to a few conclusions, but not for all of them. I am okay with this, because I think life is as much about the wrestling and struggling journey as it is about the destination.
I think that is why Jesus rarely gave pat answers. Instead, He gave His points through stories, illustrations, and day-to-day relationship. After all, He did say Eternal life was knowing the Father and His Son (John 17:3).
I believe we will always have unanswered questions and desires as long as we live because we are still in the journey. It is as if our time on earth were “engagement” to Jesus and eternity the marriage. Engagement is better than courtship, but unsatisfactory. What we really long for will only come after the marriage — Heaven.
I will share my journey and questions, hoping it can benefit you as you also face life and its tough questions.
Some of what I write might be pretty raw. I welcome any discussion it provokes, but I plead with you not to argue. As Christians, we ought to be able to discuss hard questions without petty name-calling or stereotyping. Please don’t put people in boxes because of the questions they ask. Don’t be threatened by new ideas. What good will come of it?
Keep an open mind, take it to God, search Scripture, and be willing to change, even if it is hard.
Realize that no matter how much you shake it, Truth will always remain standing. While in the meantime, all the extra dust and accessories will have been shaken off. Therefore, do not be afraid to consider new perspectives—you can always revert back to the old one.
Like Timothy Keller said, after encouraging both skeptics and believers to wrestle through doubts: “At the end of each process, even if you remain the skeptic or believer you have been, you will hold your own position with both greater clarity and greater humility” (The Reason for God, xix).
Let me begin by giving you a little perspective of where I’ll be coming from:
Like many of you, I come from a conservative Christian background. Our church circles generally believe in non-resistance, some even pacifism; we value modesty both in dress and spirit and practice the woman’s prayer or headship veiling. We tend to put more emphasis on practical living (the way) than on knowledge or charisma (the truth and life), and community (brotherhood) is very important to us.
Of course, like every denomination or sect, we have our issues. We have progressives and legalists, and even some hipsters. We have lots of church splits over both big and little issues. Every conference practices each issue slightly different—to such a degree, in fact, that I get embarrassed when trying to explain the nuances which make each conference distinct. At the end of the day, we all follow Jesus.
And, like everyone else, we have our sharp disagreements about how to do church, what music to use, and how leaders should behave. Like the rest of Christianity, our leaders and laymen alike are terribly flawed; and like the rest of Christianity, some people can’t get over that fact.
This is the background I most closely associate with; however, my parents were very social people, therefore giving me a broad range of exposure even at a young age. My Dad was a pastor and general contractor in a small community and interacted with a lot of different people.
Growing up, my siblings and I interacted with not only conservatives, but also with mainstream evangelicals, charismatics, and many people of no faith at all. We were homeschooled but also involved with other activities outside the home, such as sports and music.
My parents were very open with us, allowing us to see some of their own struggles with their distinctive beliefs, each other, God, culture, and other things. They were upfront about their convictions and boundaries, but cared more about teaching us through lifestyle than through rules.
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me as I grew older was the freedom to make my own choices and decide my own convictions, rather than wrenching them onto me. They allowed us to analyze and challenge the theological status quo rather than taking it as a threat and grasping to control us.
If controlled, a person will either give up and resign or fight and run; either way will only be a reaction, not a deliberate choice. Jesus is not interested in manipulated resignation, but proactive choices to love Him.
I say all this to help you understand why I will ask the questions I ask. My challenge to you is not to argue, but to go deeper in faith and thought. Don’t run from hard questions but struggle through them. There may be questions that are brand new to you and it may be tempting to immediately react with an answer. Don’t assume that your answer is the right one.
We need to be willing not to just try harder, but to also make drastic core-belief changes. Even if you never make a 180, at least be willing to, because Jesus will, at times, ask you to make radical changes of direction.
Do not assume your “Bible-believing” church teaches every doctrine biblically, even if they are prospering. God blesses people and churches not so much because they have all their doctrine correct, but because they have hearts surrendered to Him through which He can move. And just because they have hearts surrendered to Him, does not mean they have arrived at perfection (remember David?).
At the same time, remember that no church has perfect doctrine, and, to a degree, that is okay, because life is just as much about the journey as the destination. God could easily perfect someone in a moment, but He always chooses to mold someone through a lifetime of experiences.
Our goal should not be to arrive at perfect answers, but to journey with Jesus through the hard questions.
Shall we begin?
Hello Christopher! I am super excited for this series of posts. I know my personal inclination is to run away from tough questions, and so this will be great! I’m really looking forward to this especially because of your background; as a Christian kid raised in a solidly Christian home, I have found that the questions dealt with in Church etc. are many times “easy questions” from my perspective. And then when I encounter a “hard question” it’s very intimidating. It will be very neat to hear you deal with questions that are hard questions from the perspective of someone who has been raised in a Christian environment. Thank you for taking the time to share, I can’t wait!
I’m glad you are excited! I think you nailed the experience many of us have had in church! I want these discussions be a safe place where we can grind through our toughest doubts and questions that aren’t being answer other places!
I can’t wait to see what comes from this series! I’m pretty pumped about it!
If you don’t mind, I’d love to know what some of your biggest questions are that you haven’t found answers for–or that you still question.
Sure! When I have a moment I’ll post one. I’d love to see other people’s perspectives.
Actually, since I see so many great questions popping up in the discussion, I’ll hold off for a while. My questions tend to be more theological in nature, and probably won’t be as helpful to the community. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t breaking what I said…I didn’t forget or anything 🙂
Oh, no, theological questions are great! I would love to discuss any theological questions anyone has… ask any question you want! I can’t promise I’ll bring it up, though. =) Some topics are better left alone, for now at least. But you can still ask them. =)
Hey Christopher, let me explain what I meant a little better. I agree, theological questions are great! I think, though, once you understand what the question I was thinking of when I wrote that, my comment will make more sense.
One of the questions that I’ve really struggled with is this:
If God “predestines” certain people to come to salvation and others not to, doesn’t that make Him unjust?
I see from earlier in the comments that there was a discussion on predestination recently, which somehow I completely missed, and I’ll have to go find it and see what my fellow rebelutionaries all think 🙂 That’s part of why I wasn’t going to post my question. I also understand that it would be opening a knarly can of worms 🙂
However, I’ve never seen a good answer to this question, and I ask it because it brings up numerous contradictions which I could demonstrate with scripture.
Hopefully now my comment makes more sense. I just didn’t think that a discussion on this subject would provoke as much fruitful discussion as other questions might (and judging from the joke early in the comments, I suspect you agree with me). It’s a legitimate hard question, though, and one I hope to find some understanding on some day.
Also, sorry this explanation is so delayed!
I’m not Christopher, of course, but I’d like to try to tackle your “hard question” haha. =)
So, as fallen humans, we have a very warped perspective of what’s right and wrong. Here’s what God says: “And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (from Exodus 33).
So here’s the truth, and it doesn’t sound good, and you’re first thought will probably be “what??!!??” but it’s the truth: God can basically do anything He wants with us. He created us, and He will save who he saves and send to heIl who he sends to heIl. It’s entirely up to Him. =)
I’d LOVE to answer any more questions you have! That’s a really good question…keep them coming! =)
Hello “Not-Christopher!” =)
Thanks for giving me your answer! In reality, it’s not the question I struggle with so much as that answer, which is the one Paul gives in Romans 9. I struggle to reconcile the facts that God loves the world and wants everyone to come to salvation (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9,) and yet He “picks” who will and who won’t. It says in Romans 9:18 that He “hardens” people.
For now, I guess I just have to accept that His ways are higher than my own, and He is righteous in His methods. If we didn’t have something we didn’t understand to struggle with, how could we have faith?
Since you are so eager for questions, I have another for you 🙂 I would like to know how you interpret Matthew 5:38-42:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
I’ve always wondered what these verses mean. Surely it is not a command to submit ourselves to whoever wants to abuse us? I’ve heard some opinions which propose that it’s just saying not to retaliate, but then why is it so emphatic in saying “not to resist”? It’s quite possible to resist and not retaliate at the same time. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Hmmmm…good question! Well, I’m not the most qualified person to give you my opinion, but I’d say there’s a place and time where it’s OK to resist, such as when you are protecting other people. I’d say if it’s just yourself, don’t resist, but if you’re protecting others (family members, etc) then it’s fine to protect them. But I don’t know for sure, what do you think?
This made me think of the “when is it OK to lie to an enemy” question…what do you think of that? I’m enjoying this! =)
Thanks for your reply. I apologize that this response is so delayed.
I’m not sure what I think…I’m really not sure how it could be telling us not to resist at all – wouldn’t that just be opening us up to be abused? And I don’t think that’s what God calls us to. Perhaps it means something like don’t resist from being hurt in the context of insults or “hurts” like that. That’s a little different from allowing ourselves to be abused I think. Does that make sense?
“When is it OK to lie to an enemy?” Hmmm…I’m not sure about this one, but here are my thoughts:
– The verse we typically point to when we say “don’t lie,” doesn’t actually say “don’t lie.” It says “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). I’m no expert, and I could be wrong, but to me this doesn’t seem like a ban on all deceit in all circumstances. This verse seems to have to connotation of lying to better yourself, for example, lying in court to condemn someone you want condemned, or lying about your situation to gain sympathy. Does this make any sense? I’m having a very difficult time expressing what exactly I mean.
– However, Proverbs 6:16-17 clearly states that God “hates” a lying tongue, and it is an “abomination” to Him. Again, however, I kind of think that it may be referring more to a lifestyle of deceit or lying for some gain.
***DISCLAIMER*** I haven’t researched this next point, so be a Berean and don’t take my word for it!!!
-If I remember correctly, the times we are commanded to speak truth, it is to fellow believers, or neighbors, not necessarily enemies. But again, I haven’t been able to go through all the verses.
So in conclusion, I just don’t know. I’ve not studied this, I’ve not even looked up a bunch of verses on the subject. These are just some thoughts of the top of my head. Do you agree with them? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter!
Well, my pastor said that there’s a point where deceiving an enemy isn’t lying…I mean, we wouldn’t say wearing camouflage is lying, would we? But I don’t know if we can know exactly where that line is.
I agree with a lot of your points…I mean, Rahab lied to protect the spies and stuff…but I’m not sure either, maybe I’ll do some research on it!
Thanks for answering!
Thanks so much for explaining your reason! It makes total sense! And thanks for sharing your question and the struggle you have with it! That’s beautiful!
I agree, the whole idea of predestination can be confusing and touchy–which is why I avoid it, if I can. Maybe one day I’ll work up the courage to talk about it. =)
Keep taking your questions for sure to God, and to other people who can discuss it with you face-to-face and hear your heart. Keep an open mind when you read Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the truth hidden within.
I believe there is a place for theology and doctrine. That’s good and appropriate. But God didn’t write the Bible in systems and bullet points, He wrote it through stories and letters and poems and visions. So don’t let theology tangle you up. Read Scripture and take it at face value.
Look out for what it says about the nature and character of God: what is He like? What are His desires? What are His motives? Don’t just look at a few verses which seem to say “No God isn’t like that” or “God is like that,” instead look at ALL of Scripture and look at the complete narrative. What was Jesus like, how did he respond to people, what were his desires and motives as the EXACT representation of God (Heb. 1:3).
I’ll give you a few verses to ponder:
Paul addresses your exact question about justice in Romans 9. Jesus said his famous words in John 3:16-18.
1 Timothy 2:1-7
2 Peter 3:8-10,
Ezekiel 18 (especially verses 23 and 32).
I’m sure there are many more, but you probably get the point.
Thanks for the reminders to bring the question to God and to take Scripture as a whole. I have a tendancy to fixate on things so that was an excellent bit of advice for me. Thank you so much for the verses. I will continue to ponder them.
I was so encouraged to hear about your personal background and see your desire to wrestle with these problems for yourself rather than reacting irrationally or simply accepting what you’ve grown up with. I think you made a really good point about how often the process of working out these things can be as important as the actual answers we find. Looking forward to your hard questions!
Awesome! Thanks for the encouragement! Hope to see you in the discussion! =)
At one point or another we will be faced with hard question. Our response to those questions can be occasionally be misinterpreted, but at least we tried. I struggle with answering questions I don’t know the definite answer of: I’d rather be silent then get something wrong. I am looking forward to your series, and can’t wait to see the responses.
Yeah, I struggle with that too! It’s easier–and sometimes better–to not say anything at all than to say something that could be wrong or out of place (see reply to Josiah J. for prime example! 😛 )
But that doesn’t mean we should never discuss new perspectives or challenge assumption and the status-quo.
I hope this series will give some good ground and practice to face the hard questions life is going to throw at us! We might not come out with answers or even the ability to give answers–but I hope we’ll at least know better how to journey through them!
Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Yes, you are definitely right!
I’m super excited for this series! I’ll be praying for you as you write it. 🙂
Thanks so much, Brooklyn! I need it desperately!
Ooooh this should be good! =D Totally looking forward to it!
Awesome! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
Okay! Ready to go. 🙂
I’m super busy right now, so I might not always be able to take part in discussions. I’ll definitely be reading the articles and other people’s thoughts, though!
I hope you can join the discussions, Ruthie! Can’t wait!
Interesting… this would be cool, if it doesn’t go out of hand.
Great reminder, Josiah! I hope nothing gets out of hand!
But who will determine if it does? You? Me? Whose beliefs and value are so correct that they become the line which defines what is “out of hand” and what is not? 🙂
Good thoughts! I hope you join in the discussions!
I believe by ‘out of hand’ he meant that people got into arguments that led to bitterness. Hopefully this will not occur if we all maintain Biblical perspectives and Christ-like attitudes; which is a regular occurrence on this site! 🙂
Yes, I believe Josiah was concerned with “arguments” not with the content itself. Though he can correct us all if we’re wrong! =)
Aha, yes. I should have thought of that!
Very good point, Josiah! Thanks for sharing!
(Thanks guys for helping me see.)
Yes, I am not as concerned with content vs. how people react to content.
Disagreement, is most likely, inevitable, but what I would be concerned with would be heated arguments or degraded “I’m right your wrong.” comments.
We don’t want stereotyping
But, I think, this could be really cool. 🙂
Of course, everyone should keep any open mind, filtering everything though Biblical truth via the Bible.
But you’re wrong Josiah! And this is why!! … …
I totally agree! Good thoughts! Thanks for reminding us!
Haha! Thanks… 🙂
Ooh, one other person is typing =)
Let us begin. 😀
Good challenge, Trent! Thanks for sharing and being transparent!
May we fear God (and the possibility of our own poor doctrine) more than we should ever fear being wrong. Looking forward to the series!
I’m currently doing this, and have received opposition from my parents when a Christian coworker of a radically different denomination challenged my beliefs as I associated with the same denomination as my parents up to that point. I’m still trying to determine which view is correct on the matters of difference, but am glad to see that I am not the only one willing to challenge everything that I once professed to be true for the sake of making sure within myself that what I believe to be true, and not a misunderstanding of truth.
Begin we shall. This will be very interesting. 🙂
This looks promising *rubs hands together* perhaps we will learn something new, something old, and a few things we hadn’t ever considered before. Thanks Chris for having the courage to start such a big project that is obviously going to spark hundreds of discussions 🙂
Yes, I can’t wait! So glad to see others excited about this! =)
Sooo looking forward to this! Love it how you challenged us to be WILLING to change our beliefs, even if we never have to. And the reminder to keep it civil is a good one. I think we mostly do a pretty good job of that on here, but when it comes to doctrine and hard questions… Well, I’ll just say again that it’s a good reminder. 🙂 Thanks @christopher_witmer:disqus!
Your welcome, Cassie! I agree, the Rebelution is a pretty civil place. Can’t wait to start the discussions!
Me too! 😀
In preparation for this series, I’d love to know what some of your biggest and deepest questions are, regarding anything about God, the Church, the Christian life, or culture.
If you want, share them under this comment.
1. Share your question
2. Explain as briefly as possible why you have that question
3. Share some of your immediate thoughts
4. OPTIONAL: Share some of the feedback you’ve received and your thoughts/feelings about that feedback.
This series doesn’t have a set limit of questions we can ask and articles we can write—but it will end, eventually, so ask them soon! =)
Ok, here’s a question that I have been trying to figure out:
Why do people so easily turn to bad mentor’s or make heroes out of sick people? It’s like they just don’t even see that that person is going to hurt them either emotionally, spiritually, or even physically. This person is the one that they seek out and cling to.
What’s worse is when someone who truly cares comes around and tries to speak truth to them and they still decide that living with the selfish leader is better. Even if that person has hurt them in the past.
Are you asking why people give so much admiration to less-than-admirable celebrities? Or are you asking more about local mentors who people interact with on a regular basis?
Really, it could be either. It’s focus is on why people respect the unrespectable in general.
Here’s a question I’ve had from so many people in regards to my stand against abortion:
What would you do with all of the extra children thrown into the foster care/adoption system? The system is already overflowing with children. Why wouldn’t you just let the child die and send it to Heaven?
It’s a sick question, really. But I feel like it needs to be addressed. My argument is that every child has a purpose, but that’s not good enough for people that are blind to that fact.
Another question is this: why aren’t more people aware of the fact that there are poor people everywhere? Why hasn’t God opened their eyes? And if he has, why are they ignoring it? I feel as if the culture is sending a “we’re too good for the poor” message. I just don’t understand why people are like that. What makes them feel as if they’re better than anyone else?
Sorry, that was a boatload of questions. 🙂
Hey Brooklyn! (Lol, funny to be talking to you in two places at once! o.o) OK, so maybe I’m s’posed to save this till we actually talk about it… BUT, about the poverty thing: I literally just read something I think gives a good answer – “Sometimes? We’d rather look away. We’d rather distract ourselves with our schedules or the rest of our lives that appear to be together, than to focus on [what] we are called to change.”
Those are some tough questions… but that’s the point.
I understand your train of thought with the abortion/adoption question. I think that, even if we had billions more kids in the adoption system, they would still be live human beings who have potential and breath of their own. And sure, people would say that they would make bad choices because of growing up in foster care.
But I say that everyone has a choice to become one thing or another.
As far as dealing with the poor, I’m not sure how to make people more aware, or get them to act at all. I know that the Bible gives instruction to the church about widows and orphans. Helping the poor too. Part of it, I think, is the church falling down on their job. But also, I think that lots of people make that situation for themselves whether from drug use or just stupid choices. So I guess a further question is how can the church reach these people who have made a bad life for themselves? Because, honestly, any real undertaking on this has to be from God.
Superb questions, Brooklyn! Thanks for sharing!
These are good questions I hadn’t thought about. Since you mentioned them, I will likely bring them up and share some of my thoughts! Thanks!
Hey Brooklyn, I know you said you’d reply, but Christopher would rather us hold off too much discussion till it gets brought up, for the sake of continuity (see his comment above). So I guess I’m saying, feel free to reply, but we won’t get into too deep of a discussion at this point. Sound OK? 🙂
Oh, yeah! I actually didn’t plan on discussing it much further. I just wanted to say great quote and thank you for replying! 🙂
🙂 You’re welcome.
PREDESTINATION OR FREE WILL??? Haha, I’m kidding, really I am. We talked about that in a recent DQ anyway, and I think it’s one of the, um, less relevant/helpful ‘hard questions’ to talk about.
*pants like dog* YEAH!!! I’m totally up for that!!! (I thought about mentioning it myself…)oh you’re kidding…oh. XD
Haha @josh_whatshislastname:disqus!! Well, as I said, we DID just talk about it… And something tells me you would have shared your point of view there already… XD
Haha, I resisted actually…but Taylor couldn’t anymore. =P
You did!? Wow, that was impressive. 😀 *claps* Well, who knows, maybe it’ll come up again…
Hehehehehe….*polishes sword of the spirit* XD
LOL! That literally made me laugh out loud! I can just imagine you rubbing leather shine on an old Bible, a gleeful look on your strings… 😛
That actually gives me an awesome idea for a new profile pic…hey can you do me a favor and reply to this, like, before you go to bed? (which in Australia should be right about when I’m waking up XD) I want to take a new picture, but I’ll totally forget….
Um… OK!! Ooo, I’m looking forward to seeing it!
WAKE UP, JOSH! YOU HAVE TO TAKE A PICTURE! REMEMBER?! 😛
(P.S. Let’s just say you are lucky to get this. I barely remembered…)
Well, I took a bunch…but I don’t really like any of them. XD Maybe I’ll post one or two of them…if you ask me nicely. =P
….Pretty please?? *puppy eyes* 😛
Haha, they’re really bad and I would have to email them to myself…*waits for bribery* XD jk
Bribery??!! OK, THAT is where I draw the line! Bribes you shall not receive. 😛
Just posted it! =)
Bribery?! C’mon man! You don’t need no bribery! Email them to yourself! Do hard things!
*sighs* ok….actually I just cropped this one to get some of the clutter out. Oh, @disqus_0EPlfBsVWj:disqus here it is! =P (see if it works or not….)
Like I said @disqus_0EPlfBsVWj:disqus @brooklynmm:disqus, pretty bad, right? XD
Woah….I just looked at my profile for the first time in a while…I just hit 2000 upvotes…shortly after hitting 1000 comments…while almost at 100 followers. XD #freaky
Haha Josh, that’s funny! I do prefer you old pic, but this one’s alright. 😀
Yeah, me too…I’ll keep it as-is. =)
AHH THAT’S AMAZING
Hey, I never hid from anyone that I was a #GuitarwithArms =P 😉
That’s okay, Josh A. I’m just feet, after all. Who am I to make fun of a guitar with arms? At least you HAVE arms! (I always thought you were a bit high strung;)
XD hahahaha. =P
Yep, I’m just a pair of pink converse sneakers with feet stuck in ’em…and you want to know a secret? (Looks around, makes sure no one is listening) They aren’t even really MINE!!! (Courtesy of the internet;) Now what do you have to say to that?
Hahaha….hey, that’s still better than the people with no profile pic! 😉
Hey, @Sam S. got his profile pic from the internet too (I think!). So you’re not alone! =)
That’s what I like about these discussions, about The Rebelution. People assuring me that I’m not alone in things:)
OH MY GOSH THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE HASHTAG #GuitarWithArms
Haha, good joke, but at this point, I don’t plan to bring that up. =)
Fine with me! @josh_whatshislastname:disqus might be a bit disappointed though…
Well… *Grabs his own tongue* 🙂
Hey Christopher, do you want us to limit talking about these questions to when they’re actually written about? See below – we’ve already started talking! Would you rather we just hold our horses for a bit so everyone can see everyone’s answers in one place? (@BrettHarris:disqus I guess this is a question for you too.)
Really good question, Cassie!
I think it’s awesome that people are already discussing topics!
However, I do think that for the sake of continuity, it would be best to either submit a separate DQ or wait and see if it comes up in this series. This is what I prefer.
Nevertheless, if conversation happens, conversation happens. I’m not going to stop anybody.
Maybe Brett will have more wisdom!
Thanks for thinking about it and asking!
Yep, sounds good. I will refrain from further discussion. Thanks Christopher!
I second Christopher’s advice. =)
I can’t wait for you to post more topics Christopher! And I might not be on a lot but hopefully I can keep up with all of the comments! Great idea. 😉
Don’t worry Christopher, we won’t beat you up;) This sounds like an exciting series! Only…I’ve never been good at thinking up questions…how about this?
“Why doesn’t the Church (generalizing, understand) put more emphasis on evangelism, and teaching believers how to evangelize?”
It just seems like a lot of believers don’t know how to share their faith these days. I wouldn’t mind some instruction in that area myself. The emphasis revolves more around inviting someone to church, than actually sharing the gospel message with them, or understanding the message yourself. When it IS taught, it’s often in a way that isn’t very practical or applicable to the average individual. Evangelism is, after all, what built the church to begin with. Wouldn’t it be interesting if churches focused more on equipping believers, and training them to go out and share their faith? I’m not just talking about groups or Sunday school (although there is nothing wrong with those) but about Sunday morning preaching more practically. How awesome would it be to go to church and learn not just that you ought to love your neighbor, but of ways you actually can. Not that I mean to criticize church, or anything like that, but I am curious about why things are the way they are. (I guess it’s The Rebelution rubbing off on me. I want to see more emphasis on doing hard things, and not just talking about them;)
Mallory, this is a superb question! It shows that you are thinking deeply and not totally okay with the status-quo, but want to strive for excellence! Keep it up!
This is probably a topic that will come up eventually in the series.
Your question touches on so many issues: how church functions, how evangelism works, and how Sunday morning/weekly meetings/Sabbaths should play out.
All issues I would love to discuss! So keep an eye out for them! =)
Somebody’s up late, deftly and encouragingly (is that a word?) answering all our question submissions and queries…. 🙂
Can someone explain to me what the woman’s prayer or headship veiling is? I haven’t heard either of those terms before…
Very good question, Grace! I totally understand why you’d ask the question!
I’ll explain for you briefly. I hope to write an article about this, so I would prefer any discussion to wait until then! =)
The practice comes from 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul requires ladies to cover their head and men to uncover their head while praying or prophesying.
Virtually no one in the mainstream Western church practices the covering for various reasons. But it’s complicated. That’s why I ask people to keep their thoughts until then.
Meanwhile, read 1 Corinthians 11 for yourself and start developing some thoughts about it. Can’t wait to hear what you say!
Thanks! I will do that and start thinking about it! I look forward to reading your article about it!
Thomas is. Kind of a hero to me, so I can’t wait to read this. I like it when questions are seen as part of faith, not a rebellion against it.
Great! Look forward to hearing your thoughts!
I LOVE this, Christopher!!! Looks like this will be a good series! I will pray for you & your efforts. 🙂
Ok I am excited for this because I would love to hear other peoples opinions and thoughts! I actually found out somewhat recently (like a few years ago) that there were denominations. And my mind was so blown and I couldn’t understand all the fighting and splits and disagreement in general! I still marvel at the things that the church fights and splits over while ignoring our real mission! But I am sorry as of right now I don’t have any questions! Can we post any if we think of them later?
Hi Christina! That’s interesting! Yeah, the church can be a crazy and frustrating and messy at times, but also beautiful and forgiving and a place to call home. Hopefully after a few discussions, we’ll contribute more to the beautiful, forgiving, home part than the crazy, frustrating part. =)
Yes, ask questions at any time! I want to take good notes of everybody’s questions and thoughts so that they don’t get buried under long discussion threads! =)
Thanks for the reply! And yes the church is crazy and of course not made up of perfect people! So there will be problems! So interested in hearing other peoples view in a non-arguing/non-judging conversation! Not condemnation but conversation!
Will you do an article talking about the different denominations or explain in one of your other articles that basic different beliefs are of each denomination? I have heard of them growing up, but no one ever really explained to me what each one believes or why…
Yes that would actually be awesome! The ones I have heard about why they split or whatever are over the most stupid things! (Sorry but it makes me think of toddlers fighting over something and I just can’t help but think “How old are you people?!”)
Lol, you took my exact thoughts!
It would be interesting, upon reviewing the actual issues they split over, to see if they were actually stupid things indeed. They must have been of incredible importance to the people at the time of the split. I wonder, if we reviewed their writings at the time, just what impact they believed these differences in belief to make.
Oh, that’s a good idea, Grace!
Except it could become really extensive and go beyond my knowledge; but it is an interesting idea! I’ll give it some thought and maybe do something after the series, or during–as supplemental of sorts.
Or maybe it’s something someone else would have more knowledge about *clears throat to draw attention of OTHER WRITERS*. 😉
Thanks! I have been really curious about the different denominations and look forward to reading an article (or two or three) about them!
Hi Christina! i think here’s the problem, we are challenged to focus on JESUS, fixing our eyes on Him (Heb 12:2). When Shepherds compromise the call to focus on Jesus and focus on the pasture, weather and many good substitutes. It becomes a slow but fade, very soon they start looking out for who is a goat among the sheep and give all their energy to chasing the goat at the expense of nurturing sheep. Focus on Jesus, not wealth, or any other good substitute.
If you don’t mind I have a question! Are you saying that churches have split up because they haven’t been focusing their eyes on Jesus but rather on other things? That is what I understood and if so is an AMAZING point! But please correct me if I read that wrong!
I would say yes and No. Yes because we start by focusing on Jesus, then along the way we are swayed by other things. No because there are many other reasons churches split, this could be one of them.
This is cool! I’m not very good at asking questions but I love to see what other people ask and the answers!
Yes! Ask questions and join in the discussions any time!
I have two questions, actually. I was wondering how Christians are supposed to think about/deal with suffering. It can be easy to just try to deal with it on your own rather than go to God. My second question kind of goes with that, and that is how are you supposed to pray. I’ve been going through a time in my life where it is difficult for me to bring stuff to God or to even know how or what to pray. Thanks for posting this! I look forward to the rest of the series.
Opps, I thought I had replied to this.
Really good questions! Questions that I’ll probably be asking! Thanks!
would love to get some feed back from you on my reply to John’s question
Hi John, i think we share an experience, this is how i have overcome in prayer.
First no one knows what or how to pray, we all are in need of the Holy spirit. i believe in the help of the Holy spirit and that gives me confidence to pray when i feel or don’t feel like praying.
Romans 8:26 says, In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.
That leads me to the next question, how can we avail our selves to be helped by the Spirit? by allowing the life of the spirit to saturate us through the word, 2Timothy 3:17.
When you start your prayer time with the word, what follows is that you start praying the scriptures and shortly you will have gained prayer momentum.
Thanks for this! I think I might start reading the Psalms since those are prayers and maybe they could help me get a picture of how to pray.
Yes, Finney, this is an excellent reply! Pray God’s word back to Him! That’s an awesome way to start!
There are many resources out there that categorize scripture into topics. One of my favorites is “Prayers that Change Things.” It’s a small little book that contains prayers and confessions for numerous situations. It’s helpful when you don’t know what to pray.
And like you said, if we cry out to God, even if we don’t say it the best way, the Spirit will intercede for us.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts @finneyongole:disqus!
Thank you for challenging us to engage @christopher_witmer:disqus
Finney, I wrote you a little thank you note under the comments section of the “If your friends had to describe you, what would they say?” post. Hope you can see that. You are such a great encourager!
Hi John! I’ve been off for a while, but hopefully i can now engage more often. I want to congratulate you upon your recent appointment to the editorial team of therebellution, i have no doubt God has called you and His grace will carry you through. God will never call you for what you can’t handle. 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Always remember that in the parable of the talents, one thing is sure, “the reward for good work is more work” You have been tested and found both accountable and responsible. God bless you as we rally with you
I’m glad someone is stepping up and starting a series like this. Thanks for being courageous! I would really appreciate any wisdom you could share regarding my question.
I would like to know what you think about Christians being involved in Politics and the Justice system. Being raised in a conservative home, I have always been taught Nonresistance. Only recently, I’ve been really questioning where one should stand on issues such as voting, Jury duty, etc.
Why is it that we only want Christian leaders, judges, and Lawyers, when us as Christians, are completely unwilling to take part in it ourselves? I understand what is said in James 4:12 about Jesus being the Supreme Lawgiver and that we aren’t to judge, but are we taking this verse out of context?
Oooh, great question, Maria!
I think we come from the same background, so I know exactly what you’re talking about.
It’s funny, actually, because I think many people, not familiar with conservative Anabaptists, would consider non-resistance/pacifism as a liberal trait. In some our circles, it tends to be a conservative trait (unless you are talking about MCUSA and such conferences).
If you are interested you can check out a few other articles I’ve written (for the Rebelution) about this:
#1 Should Christians Stand Up for Their Rights? (http://therebelution.com/blog/2014/06/should-christians-stand-up-for-their-rights/#.VUzrGc4r2S0)
And a follow-up:
#2 Why Christians Should Pursue Hearts, Not Politics (http://therebelution.com/blog/2014/08/why-christians-should-pursue-hearts-not-politics/#.VUzppM4r2S0)
I’ve changed some of my thinking since writing those (partly because of the resulting discussions), but in general, they would still reflect where I come out on the issue.
If people are interested in discussing this right now, they can hop over and read/discuss those articles. Currently, the first Hard Questions article I’ll be posting (which is the very next one after this intro) is the closest I’ll probably come to discussing politics again. But you never know, so keep watching. =)
Thanks for the question, Maria! Looking forward to your contribution to the discussions!
Thanks for referring me to those articles! I read them and they’ve given me some things to think about… Really looking forward to your next post.
Where in the Bible do we get the idea that a guy needs the father’s permission to either ask a girl out or marry her? I agree on the basis of wisdom but have never seen this prescribed in scripture. @oMHOgFTIn3:disqus my sister says you already asked this question.
Since I am already on this topic I guess I might as well ask another which I have been wondering about lately. What is evangelicalism’s deal with virginity? I hardly want to ask this question in public as it is awkward and raises awkward questions about me as to what it must mean if I ask it, but why, if we are all redeemed sinners, do we place this so high on the list in terms of marital qualifications? I am far more interested in who a girl is now than what she once was. I know it sounds heartless to say it but I honestly don’t care about that. Should I, and, if so, why?
If I haven’t scared everyone off at this point, I will change subjects to far safer waters. Note that I said safer, however, this is still not safe. I am in college and will soon be in a position to begin pursuing marriage. I have noted a potential difficulty, however, and that is that seemingly every woman I meet has career plans. Only one hasn’t (and, interesting note, when she mentioned that she would drop her career (no I wasn’t asking!) if she could as soon as she had children she said so with shame. Curious how our culture infiltrated our minds.) Is there any space biblically, and, if so, what space, for a career while fulfilling the call to “be homemakers” (see Titus 2)?
Provoking questions, Joseph! I like them because they make me think and explore new territory!
I have a few thoughts, but maybe I will wait until a later article! =)
You are most assuredly my brother!
I have two questions. The first is, does God literally talk to people? I have heard several different people say that God literally spoke to them and some others say they heard Him speak to them in their mind. I am curious to know the answer. My second question is a bit harder. I was talking to a girl today who said she was riding in a bus and looking up at the clouds trying to imagine what God would look like when she saw His face in/through the clouds. Is this possible? She said she knew it was God because she had been nervous and had an upset stomach and once she saw God she felt completely calm and no longer had an upset stomach. While I do believe God can calm fear, I don’t know whether or not to believe that people actually see God (or His face) in these current times. Do you know any scripture references that would help give me guidance?
What are Christians supposed to do when they struggle with doubt? I mean, I’ve been pretty stuck in it for over a month and while people assure me that it’s normal, its good to know but hearing “what you’re going through is normal” isn’t very helpful when you’re confused and a little scared by all of your questions. What is a Biblical way to deal with doubt that really helps you to fight against it and not give into it?
Good day to you Christopher 🤗
To quote an old movie line. “You Got me at”.
“I think life is as much about the wrestling and struggling journey as it is about the destination”.💃🏼
Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding🕊️💕
THEN YOU “GOT ME AT”
“Growing up, my siblings and I interacted with not only conservatives, but also with mainstream evangelicals, charasmtics, and many people of no faith at all”💃🏼
I ‘heard’ 🕊️
Sound’s like 🤗 Jesus who went about doing good… 🫂Act’s 10:38
I’ll be back myself 💃🏼 I really want to share this website with my 54 year young daughter and her teen & Adult children 💕
To you & Your Parents 🫂🙏🕊️