Should We Ever Question?
Every Christian has questions when it comes to the Bible. Asking questions is essential to growth. But there are two flawed ways to approach the Bible’s hard-to-believe teachings: blind faith and radical skepticism.
Blind faith is belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination. God doesn’t promote this kind of faith. He gives us perceptive minds and reveals a great deal about His character and nature through His Word so that we can see and know the God we are called to trust. He tells us to be mature in our thinking and wise in our discernment. Therefore, the Bible rejects the idea of blind faith.
Radical skepticism on the other hand is when someone lives in a perpetual state of questioning and skepticism. In other words, a radical skeptic is someone who questions everything, but lands nowhere. I’m skeptical of this kind of skeptic. They love questions more than answers. Radical skepticism is a safe zone in our contemporary climate; it’s a smokescreen in today’s religion of secularism. But as C.S. Lewis pointed out, “You can’t go on ‘seeing through’ things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.”
What To Do With Our Questions?
So what does the Bible encourage for those with genuine questions?
The interaction between Mary and the angel Gabriel is most helpful, for it is the first time this young virgin finds out that she’s going to bear a child.
For some, the virgin birth falls into C.S. Lewis’ category known as “chronological snobbery,” which is simply the idea that “whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.” However, the virgin birth has always seemed impossible, even to Mary. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that she was neither ignorant nor anti-intellectual.
When the angel told Mary that she was going to bear a child, her first response was not blind faith, but a question: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel responded, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Finally, after pondering the angel’s response with the character and nature of God as revealed in the Bible, Mary says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:34, 37-38).
In this passage, Mary exhibits neither blind faith nor radical skepticism. Rather, what we see in Mary is an example of the godly posture we all should have: thoughtful trust. She asks the questions, but then reasonably submits herself to God.
Mary’s thoughtful trust at this point will prove to be tested over the years as she experiences great angst, hardship, and doubt. When Jesus is a baby, she will be told that a sword will pierce her soul; when Jesus is twelve, she will lose him for three days; when Jesus is thirty, she will think he’s lost his mind; when Jesus is tortured to death, she will fall into despair for three days. There will be times when it seems like God has failed her. But as she holds on to her faith, even in the darkest of valleys, she is going to be shown over and over that God is faithful—that she can trust Him. Sadness and despair will give way to victory and celebration.
The question that the Christmas narrative poses to us is this: Are we going to continue to trust God to keep His Word—even when it seems impossible or it doesn’t make sense? Do we really believe that God will keep us and strengthen us in the darkest of valleys? Or do our feelings and our fears seem more truthful than the words of God?