George Bowers Sr. Good answers to hard questions
Over the years our father told us many stories about his school experiences. Times were very different, rules were very strict, and expectations were very high. There were no SOLs or Common Core and the board of education was often applied to his seat of learning. That’s not to say there weren’t weaknesses, for he told us that when he once asked his teacher a question, she replied, “If you don’t know, don’t ask.”
Such a response to a young inquisitive mind is just about the worst thing any educator can say. If you already knew, you wouldn’t have to ask. How else can anyone learn the answers to their questions unless they have the freedom to inquire and explore? Thankfully, dad didn’t let that embarrassment discourage him and he went on to become a lifelong learner.
We often have questions in our faith journeys as well. Why do little children sometimes get cancer? Why is there suffering in the world? If God is all powerful, he could stop it. If he is all loving, he would stop it. So is he not both? How could he send anyone to eternal hell? Do all religious roads lead to the same destination? How do we know Jesus rose from the dead?
Unfortunately, church leaders have sometimes discouraged such honest questions with responses little better than dad’s teacher. The common answer is, “Just have faith.” Although that’s not a bad reply, it’s very incomplete. Jesus does want us to have faith, but he also wants us to explore and understand the foundations for our faith that we may be certain of what we believe.
There are good answers to the questions above and the failure of the church to provide them has resulted in many people walking away from Christianity. If we’re not asking these questions, someone we know and love almost certainly is, so it behooves us to be prepared to give answers for the hope that lies within us.
We are blessed today to have a multitude of resources to help with such challenging questions including books, websites, videos, YouTubes, and more. There’s no sin in not knowing and no sin in asking, but our questions should prompt us to find the answers. Being lazy or hesitating to search out the truth for fear of what we’ll find are not good strategies. Questions about God, heaven, hell, and Jesus Christ are not ones we can afford to be wrong about, for eternity is a very long time.
We are able to prove virtually nothing in this world with total certainty, but it’s important to collect the evidence, examine it thoroughly and let it lead us to logical conclusions. Pretending there is no evidence or that it is inconclusive beyond reasonable doubt will have grave and everlasting consequences. We owe it to ourselves and to our eternities to make an objective and serious evaluation of all available information.
Some people often hide behind intellectual objections satisfied that they are well insulated from any consequences their actions may generate, but God indicates that ignorance is no excuse. We all have an inborn sense on these things that should motivate us to search for the truth. Just as not knowing the speed limit doesn’t exempt us from a ticket, not knowing the truth about sin, death, and eternity doesn’t create immunity from God’s judgment, especially with the plethora of information at our fingertips.
One premier resource that is coming directly to us is a seminar on these very topics, “Good Answers To Hard Questions.” It will be held at Antioch Church on September 14 and 15. Authors and international speakers Craig Hazen and Clay Jones from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles will be there to address these very serious and challenging topics. Students 20 and under will be admitted free but those older will need to purchase a ticket by googling Faith and Reason Apologetics of Shenandoah County and signing up to help cover expenses.
Knowing how to respond to some of these objections can enable us help others over hurdles of faith. Knowing what we believe and how to explain it can benefit others and can also prevent foolish answers like my dad got from his teacher. Continue to research the foundations of your faith and make plans to join us for the seminar next weekend. There are good answers for life’s hardest questions. Blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 11 books which are available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.