Should We Question God?

Should We Question God?

I get much of my inspiration for this blog from social media.  I recently saw a statement that didn’t ring true for me:

“Once we begin to question God’s word, we are paving the way to denying it completely.”

There are two major things wrong with this statement.

First, are we questioning God’s word, or are we questioning someone’s interpretation of God’s word?  We can and should as part of our discernment process question a human person’s interpretation of God’s word.  Let me give you an example.

Acts 2:30 says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

As far as I know, all Christian faith traditions practice some sort of baptism. It seems that everyone agrees that believers should be baptized.  However, some traditions sprinkle and some dunk.  Some traditions practice infant baptism and some do not.  God’s word clearly calls for baptism; however, the method of baptism in various traditions is an interpretation of God’s word.  Baptism is just one of several areas where various traditions interpret the Bible differently, such as gifts of the Spirit, communion, women in ministry, church leadership, salvation and more.

As Christians, we can and should question the interpretation of God’s word in order to discern whether or not that interpretation is faithful and true to the meaning of the original text.  It is our responsibility to research and find out what God’s word is saying.  We should use commentaries and books by reputable writers.  We should specifically question unique interpretations.  We cannot and should not just blindly accept another’s interpretation without study and prayer.  However, this side of eternity, there will always be some interpretations that differ from tradition to tradition and remember they all believe they have made the correct interpretation.  My guess is that none of us is 100% accurate.

Second, there are numerous examples in the Bible of people questioning God.  You may be saying to yourself questioning God isn’t the same as questioning scripture, but I think it is.  When we question scripture, we are questioning what God has said to us; therefore, we are questioning God.  Throughout the Old Testament there are numerous examples of Israel questioning God.

For example, Habakkuk asks of the Lord, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?  Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?  Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?”  (Hab 1:2-3)  God does not get angry with Habakkuk for his questions.  Instead, he answers him, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.  For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”  (Hab 1:5)  

There are Psalms that question God:

Psalm 10:1 — “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”  

Psalm 44:23-26 — “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?  Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!  Why do you hide your face?  Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?  For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground.  Rise up; come to our help!  Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!”

Psalm 74:1 — “O God, why do you cast us off forever?  Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?”

Psalm 77:7-9 — “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?  Has his steadfast love forever ceased?  Are his promises at an end for all time?  Has God forgotten to be gracious?  Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”

But wait, there’s more!  Abraham and Sarah both laugh at the prospect of God giving them a son in their old age.  (See Genesis 17:17, 18:12.)  Moses negotiates with God, first by asking his name, then by denying that the people will listen to him, and last by complaining that he couldn’t speak well.  (See Exodus 3.)  Gideon not only questioned the angel of God, but he had the nerve to ask for not one sign, but two!  (See Judges 6.)  God himself encourages Israel to test him on the tithe in Malachi 3:6-12.  

What we see here is that God never dodges the sincere questions of his people.  To the contrary, he is patient even when we question him.  What we find in common with Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Gideon and others is that after questioning, negotiating, arguing, laughing, and asking for signs, they all obeyed and followed God.  God understands that we are limited as human beings.  We have fear and unbelief that causes us to hesitate, question God, and perhaps even try to negotiate with him.  All of these things are just part of our nature.  Still, God expects us to obey and follow him once we have settled the matter.  

I firmly believe that the only bad question is the one that goes unasked.  How are we to learn if we don’t question?  To make matters worse, the statement above assumes that if we were to question God’s word, it would lead to denial.  That is not the case.  Questions should lead to understanding and truth.  Truth can withstand questioning.  Remember that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Go ahead — ask your questions, settle the truth, and then obey God because he can be trusted.

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