Christians Have Answers

One of the latest catchphrases among Christians seems to be a reworking of an atheist question: “If Jesus is the answer, what is the question?” The Christianized edition is, “If Jesus is the answer, why are Christians afraid to ask questions?”

Oddly, this sentiment co-exists with a sort of artificial humility that has Christians backing off from knowing anything. Rather than offering a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for our faith (1 Peter 3:15), we are now, apparently, to say spiritual things are a mystery. It’s a type of Christian agnosticism.

The whole notion of spiritual mystery is an outgrowth of postmodern thought and is not a Biblical concept. Instead Scripture teaches that God is transcendent:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Because God is Other, we will never figure Him out. Does that mean He remains cloaked in mystery? Actually no, for one reason, and one reason only. God chose to reveal Himself to us.

Hence, when the New Testament writers reference the mystery of God, they say things like “make known” or “speak forth” or “reveal.”

Clearly God has made known what Mankind needs to know, first in creation, then through His Word, His Son, and finally by His Spirit. The interesting thing is, the more we see of God, the more we see of God.

In other words, Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, makes reconciliation with God possible. To those who believe, He gives His Spirit who in turn teaches us all truth and brings to remembrance all that Jesus said (John 14:26). And of course Jesus said what He received from the Father. In addition, the Spirit “searches all things, even the depths of God” (I Cor. 2:10b).

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul continued to explain the working of the Holy Spirit. Then he concluded the discussion with this amazing statement: “But we have the mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:15).

So … it’s a fair assumption, then, that Christians have answers, even to hard questions.

I suspect the problem has never been about not having answers but about not liking the answers we have.

For example, a hard, hard question that has been asked down through the ages is this one: Why is there suffering in the world?

The Bible gives the answer: because of sin.

But no, we want more. That one’s too simple, too impersonal, especially when the suffering we’re asking about seems very personal. In fact, we’re often asking, Why me?

Again the answer, All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death.

Another answer we don’t like.

But shouldn’t being a Christian change that? Shouldn’t Christians be able to count on God to get us out of suffering?

Again, the Bible gives the answers, ones we just don’t like. We are to expect persecution, to bear our cross, to share in the sufferings of Christ including the fellowship of His death.

When the questions involve the Big Things of life — why am I here, how did I come to be, what lies ahead — the Bible gives those answers too (for God’s glory; by His creation; judgment and life forever, either in His presence or cast from Him).

But how? How does it all work?

Need I say it? The Bible tells us how:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col 1:16-17).

But to those weighty, cosmic questions, aren’t those answers illustrations of the earlier criticsm — they’re simplistic, impersonal.

I’ll answer with a set of questions of my own: Is Christ simplistic? Impersonal?

Perhaps how a person views Christ determines whether or not that individual believes Christians have answers.

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For other posts on this subject see “Transcendence vs. Mystery,” and “Draw Near To God … For What End?”

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Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 Comments

  1. great post.

  2. This actually brings up a topic I’m going to post about soon, concerning the “purpose” of Christianity. I think some western churches like to “add onto” the purpose of the church to make it more palatable to people who have no sense of metaphysical issues.

    Jesus may be the answer but a lot of people aren’t asking any questions because they don’t care.

  3. I remember the first time I came across the statement “If Jesus is the answer, what was the question?” because I saw it as the bumpersticker on someone’s car. It caused me to pause.

    I thought it was a great question in and of itself and actually showed a thoughtfulness to it that implied that if one could answer this satisfactorily then maybe the person might consider other things. The more I thought on it, the more I was stumped.

    Here I was having Jesus in my life, knowing He was the answer, but not having the foggiest clue just what the question was.

    Then without me figuring it out on my own the Holy Spirit let it come up from the depths of my spirit and I was like “Whoa.” What is the one question that people ask all the time and never have an answer for?

    Other questions are mentioned by Becky above which she notes the Bible has answers for, and they are all well and good, but the thing is that we are looking specifically for a question that the answer for is Jesus. That question is What is the meaning of life? That revelation caused me to pause even more.

    Every time I sit back and ponder that seemingly unanswerable question with the seemingly misplaced answer without a question, I am amazed at how deep that simple question and answer can go.

    Even now I am thinking of when the Bible said that “Jesus answered the tree” which was advertising fruit with its leaves yet offered up no fruit. Jesus cursed the tree and the life was removed from it. If the tree had fruit available perhaps Jesus would have blessed it and the next day they would have seen even more fruit on it than before instead of it withered up from the root.

    Jesus is the meaning of life, and that’s the answer to the question. ;)

  4. Actually, the Greek Orthodox talk about the mysteries of the church quite a lot, and always have. In fact, I believe they get attacked in Protestant circles for something Protestants and Evangelicals like to pooh-pooh as mysticism, which is actually, when you get the Orthodox to talking about it, hardly any mystery after all!

    But it is a source of wonder and amazement, even to the angels that Christ came to earth and was born as a baby, lived among us, suffered and died, and rose again. Salvation is this incredibly awesome event that, when you get to trying to wrap your mind around it, ought to amaze and confound you with the sheer beauty of Christ’s love for us!

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable that we Protestants and Evangelicals should also talk about the mysteries of our faith; about how we can have a God who is three persons in one; about how He spoke the universe into existence, yet cares enough to know each person He has created intimately inside and out (and no, we really can’t understand that one, although we can accept it on faith), and how He reaches down and does miracles, touching hearts and minds so that their owners reach toward Him in faith.

    I don’t think Christians have to understand everything about our faith. And I don’t think sheer ignorance is going to stop us from trying to understand!

    Our God is an AWESOME God! :D

  5. I think God created mankind to show/display the attributes that He could not in the Godhead, like mercy, grace, justice, etc. – and what better way than in the person of Jesus.

  6. Great comments. Thanks for expanding on this topic, all.

    Without a doubt we have an awesome God who transcends our ability to understand Him. And yet He has gone to such lengths to be known by us, to bridge the separation our iniquities made. That unapproachable Light would pour His fullness into a baby is so remarkable — because it is so other from how we think and what we would do but also because in so doing He shows us more of His character.

    I see God’s love so powerfully demonstrated in His acts of self-revelation. It makes me understand, a little, how important relationship with God is to Him. Not because He needs relationship. Not because we can add anything to Him. Our relationship with God is important to Him because He chose to make it so. What an amazing, generous God we have!

    Becky

  7. […] already addressed, in several posts (here, here, and here), one of the issues that lead to agnostic thought — that God is mystery (as opposed to […]


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