Why the Questions Matter So Much

“I used to be a Christian.”

The opening words from the young man on the other end of the telephone line certainly caught my attention.

“What do you mean, you used to be a Christian?” I asked.

As the story unfolded, first on the phone and later when he and his friend met with me in my office, I learned what had happened. These sharp high school students had been asking a variety of spiritual questions at their church youth group meetings, but they had not received helpful answers.

The first time they raised their objections was during a Bible class, but their teacher shut them down. “Those are things that people of faith must accept by faith,” he insisted. “You just need to believe and then you’ll know that they’re true.”

To these guys—and I’ll have to admit to me, too—that sounded like an admission that there are no good reasons to believe in Christianity.

Later that summer they had gone to their church’s youth camp and again asked their questions, but to a different set of leaders. This time they were told, “You mustn’t raise these issues here—you’ll only confuse the other campers!”

So they held in their questions while their doubts grew and festered, increasingly poisoning what faith they had. Eventually, they abandoned their belief in God altogether. What’s more, they turned a weekly Bible study that had been meeting in a home into what they called a Skeptics Group—a place they now invited their friends from school to come to and hear the evidence against the Bible and Christianity.

“So what made you come and tell me all this?” I asked.

“A friend of ours challenged us to slow down and test our thinking one more time. He gave us your name and said you might be able to help.”

Spiritual questions. When answered, they can bring truth and light, and they can help open a person’s way to spiritual life. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). For us as Christians, our friends’ questions can turn into exciting opportunities to share God’s truth.

When left unanswered, those same questions can lead to doubt, frustration, and ultimately spiritual alienation from God. In a radio interview I once heard, the late apologist Walter Martin declared, “When we fail to answer someone’s questions and objections, we become just one more excuse for them to disbelieve.”

Once we understand what’s at stake, it’s clear that helping our friends find answers to their spiritual questions is one of the most important tasks we could possibly engage in. The writers of Scripture certainly thought so.

As the apostle Paul challenged us, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Col. 4:5-6).

The apostle Peter echoed those thoughts: “If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).

The Bible is clear, and the crisis in our culture is great: people—of all ages, but especially younger folks—need help sorting out what to believe, and we who are followers of Christ are called to respond to their questions and to point them to the truth of Jesus.

But let’s be honest. Many of us are not ready. When someone looks us in the eye and sincerely asks a challenging spiritual question—such as “Why do you believe the Bible?” or “How can you trust that God is good when he lets so many awful things happen?” or “Why should I join a church that is full of hypocrites?” or “Why are Christians antigay?”—most of us don’t know how to respond.

Mark Mittelberg and Lee Strobel, The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask: (with Answers) (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2010).










Josh Hunt ● www.joshhunt.com ● josh@joshhunt.com ● 575.650.4564 ● 1964 Sedona Hills Parkway, Las Cruces, NM 88011
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