The Priority of Questions


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends, in her recent Slice of Infinity article, “A Space for Questions”, Margaret Manning makes these observations:

It might come as a surprise—even to those who claim to be Christians—that Jesus asked more questions than he answered, at least as his life is recorded and revealed in the gospel narratives. According to author Martin Copenhaver in his systematic study of the questions of Jesus, Jesus asked 307 questions. Furthermore, he is asked 183 questions of which he answers three.(1) In fact, asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and to the way he taught those who followed him. More than using didactic teaching, Jesus often explored the reality of the kingdom by asking questions, or by telling stories or through using metaphor. Far from presenting easy answers, Jesus often left questions unanswered, or his teaching unexplained.

But Jesus did not simply ask questions or leave them unanswered simply to be mysterious or enigmatic. His questions took his listeners deeper into wonder, discovery, and into discomfort: Do you wish to get well? What do you want me to do for you? Who do you say that I am? Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ but do not do what I tell you? Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?(2) Significantly, Jesus’s questions went straight to the heart of the matter. They were piercingly intimate and vulnerable, as when he asked his disciples if they wanted to ‘go away’ after he gave the very complex teaching about consuming his body and blood as recorded in John 6. Far from requiring immediate answers, the questions from Jesus were asked to prompt careful and considered reflection, even as they invited the listener to wonder and amazement: Who then is this that even the wind and the seas obey him? Even Jesus asked the question that resounds on the lips and in the hearts of humans throughout the ages: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

To add another, complementary thought… today in chapel at RZIM’s headquarters, Cameron McAllister shared some reflections on how our culture values doubt. It appears more intelligent, honest, and authentic than dogmatic faith. Another benefit: simply by asking questions, you can come across as a more intelligent, honest, and authentic person!

Naturally, these reflections led me to a few questions!

  • What questions are you asking today?
  • How are you stimulating spiritual curiosity among your family and friends?
  • What questions are you hearing from your neighbors?
  • How can you grow in your own curiosity and desire to ask questions?

The study of apologetics and evangelism is going to involve asking many questions - about ourselves, about God, about ideas, and to our friends… let’s dig in!

Good Questions
(SeanO) #2

Saw this list of ‘types’ of Socratic questions and thought it was interesting:

I’m sure we could add more to the list, but I think different situations call for different types of questions. And knowing which is appropriate (which Jesus was the master at) is important.

  1. Questions for clarification:
    Why do you say that?
    How does this relate to our discussion?
    “Are you going to include diffusion in your mole balance equations?”

  2. Questions that probe assumptions:
    What could we assume instead?
    How can you verify or disapprove that assumption?
    “Why are neglecting radial diffusion and including only axial diffusion?”

  3. Questions that probe reasons and evidence:
    What would be an example?
    What is…analogous to?
    What do you think causes to happen…? Why:?
    “Do you think that diffusion is responsible for the lower conversion?”

  4. Questions about Viewpoints and Perspectives:
    What would be an alternative?
    What is another way to look at it?
    Would you explain why it is necessary or beneficial, and who benefits?
    Why is the best?
    What are the strengths and weaknesses of…?
    How are…and …similar?
    What is a counterargument for…?
    “With all the bends in the pipe, from an industrial/practical standpoint, do you think diffusion will affect the conversion?”

  5. Questions that probe implications and consequences:
    What generalizations can you make?
    What are the consequences of that assumption?
    What are you implying?
    How does…affect…?
    How does…tie in with what we learned before?
    “How would our results be affected if neglected diffusion?”

  6. Questions about the question:
    What was the point of this question?
    Why do you think I asked this question?
    What does…mean?
    How does…apply to everyday life?
    “Why do you think diffusion is important?”

(Deni Shepard) #3

In John1:14 reading from “The Apologetics Study Bible " pg.1570 and in the comment or explanation area it reads (Jesus ,however, was God’s “new creation” and free from sin.”
My thinking has always been the Trinity was at the beginning of creation. Or is it possible even before creation, it was only God singular. There would not have been a need for the Son, or Holy Spirit because humanity was no there yet and there was no need for the Savior or Holy Spirit. Once the act of creation began then became the need for a Savior and Spirit. If God created Christ then did God create Himself , Christ has always been part of the Trinity and was never created.
I’m a little confuse on how I should sort this out can you clear this up for me. Respectfully Deni

(Jimmy Sellers) #5

@Deni your first thought is correct. I think that this is the whole point of John to combat the teaching that somehow Jesus was a created being.
From the commentary

1:14 Ancient Gnostics and modern “New Agers” have often challenged the idea of God taking on human flesh, since “flesh” is seen as inherently corrupt. But Jn 1 stresses that God created the world and everything in it to be completely good. Only later did sin corrupt everything. Jesus, however, was God’s “new creation” and free from sin. God Himself became incarnate in order to redeem sinful humanity.

I believe that authors were alluding Paul’s use of the term “new creation” and not suggesting that God decided that he needed to make or create a solution for the world’s problems.
From Paul’s 2nd Temple Jewish worldview he was referring to:

(1) a believer’s ontological transformation in Christ,
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Co 5:17)
15 For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (Ga 6:15)
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jer 31:33

(2) the community of Christian believers
“The church embodies the power of the resurrection in the midst of a not-yet-redeemed world. Paul’s image of ‘new creation’ stands here as a shorthand signifier for the dialectical eschatology that runs throughout the New Testament” (Hays, Moral Vision of the New Testament, 198).

(3) the end-time cosmological renewal and restoration.
19 For the eagerly expecting creation awaits eagerly the revelation of the sons of God. 20 For the creation has been subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its servility to decay, into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans together and suffers agony together until now. (Rom 8:19-22)
17 For look! I am about to create new heavens and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered,
and they shall not ⌊come to mind⌋.
18 But rejoice and shout in exultation forever and ever over what I am about to create!
For look! I am about to create Jerusalem as a source of rejoicing,
and her people as a source of joy. (Is 65:17-18)
The Lexham Bible Dictionary

In this context Jesus is the “New Creation” not the newly created.
I hope this helps.

(Marlys Johnson) #6

I love this thread about getting an evangelical discussion started. My favorite question is, “Who is Jesus to you?” My first experience with this question was talking with a highly educated lady in a group home. She was a liberal thinker, wrote a book, and articulate. However, my question opened the door to several conversations which ended in her receiving Jesus is a real way. Her last words words before dying were “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” She finally saw Him as her Lord and Savior.

Those who have not heard
(Deni Shepard) #7

Thanks so much, I was unclear how God could create Himself and this was against all my understanding. Again thanks for your help & ministry. Respectfully Deni