Jump directly to the content

Subsciber access onlyarticle preview

Available to TCW subscribers only. Log in or subscribe now.

On Being Questioned About Matters of Faith

Average Rating:
Not rated1 Comment

I've been studying Genesis for the past year and have found the book's emphasis on violence rather striking. After Cain kills his brother, he worries that marauders in the regions of his exile will kill him. A few generations later, Cain's descendant Lamech brags about his own murderous exploits. Soon the earth is so "filled with violence," as God explains to Noah, that God decides "to put an end to all people" (6:13) in a great flood.

What struck me as I squirmed through the horrific flood account was God's violence in response to human violence. However evil the people of that time may have been—and surely they were no more evil than the people of today—I couldn't erase from my mind the resulting image of that genocide, the plaintive cries from high places, the gurgling screams and thrashing that must have horrified Noah and his family as all the world drowned. How could a loving God have done such a thing? I wondered. I struggled to understand what God's violence says about his character, and how it's relevant to my own life.

I made the mistake of putting my question before some Christian friends, and it unsettled them. Outraged them even. "God made those people," they explained, "so God had every right to destroy them."

My friends were right. Certainly God had every right to destroy the humans he'd created, just as I have every right to delete the words on my computer screen, as I often do when I write, and start over with just a fragment. And, from the imagined perspective of the Creator, destroying his creatures wasn't exactly on the same order as his creatures' destroying one another. One of my friends even coined the word unmake to differentiate God's violence from human violence.

Nevertheless, the answer rankled. It's one I've often received, in many variations, in response to my questions. "We won't understand this until we get to heaven," dedicated believers tell me. Or they remind me of God's supremacy. Such responses sidestep—or unmake—the question altogether. And, although I know God himself famously answered Job in the same vein—"Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?" (38:2)—I feel unjustly silenced. These believers are really saying, "I don't want to talk about this, and you shouldn't either." Few things bother me more than feeling squelched.

Students at the Christian university where I teach frequently report similar experiences. Though most of these students are lifelong believers, they're struggling—often for the first time—with matters of faith, considering new ideas unfiltered by parents or churches, and learning independent decision-making. Naturally they have questions, often unsettling ones, about God. When mature believers shut such strugglers down with pat answers or refuse to entertain these questions as legitimate, they grow frustrated. Some turn away from faith altogether.

article preview

This article is currently available to TCW subscribers only.

To Continue Reading:

LoginorSubscribe
Sign up for TCW's free Encouraging Words e-newsletter to start each day with inspiration and encouragement straight from God's Word.
Related Topics:Belief; Faith; Questioning
Posted:

not a subscriber?

Subscribe for only $9.95 yearly!
Start here for complete access to Today's Christian Woman—a mentor to help you love God more deeply and live fearlessly.

Next Steps

Downloadable resources to go deeper

Growing Faith in Your Growing Teen

Your key role in nurturing your child's spiritual development

Your Kid's Fears

Help your children conquer their fears.

ratings & comments

Average User Rating: Not rated

Displaying 1–1 of 1 comments

Nicole C

May 17, 2012  9:53am

Good article. I have always asked questions, became a believer by questions, grow in faith by questions and will die asking questions. That people try to put inquiries "under the rug" shows they are not willing to answer them fully or even approach them. What a shame

Report Abuse
More For Women
Gifted for Leadership

gifted for leadership

The Leadership Journal blog inspires and connects women leaders in church ministry
Her Meneutics

her.meneutics

The Christianity Today  women's site provides news and analysis for evangelical women
Shopping