Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Answering The Right Questions

A lot of hay is made on the importance of asking the right questions. As a pastor I am expected (and paid) not to ask questions, but to answer them. And this is a difficult thing to adjust to for someone like me who prefers his theology open ended rather than nicely packaged. One of my pitfalls is that I often end up answering questions that are important to me, but not so important to my people.

I recently had some pre-baptismal Bible studies with a young adult who grew up in the Adventist church. One of the topics was the millennium, and I spent about an hour that night walking him through Revelation 19:11-21:8. At the end I asked if he had any questions, and he said, "You just answered a bunch of questions I didn't even know I had."

Last night in one of my churches we presented episode four of The Appearing, a five night series on the second-coming with Shawn Boonstra, and it deals with the exegetical weakness of the secret rapture theory. The Appearing is geared towards a non-Adventist audience, but that was our first night when no visitors came. After the presentation I asked, "How many of you learned something new tonight," and to a person they said they had not known the reasoning behind secret rapture theory until that meeting.

I think that there are two ways we can go about answering the wrong questions. One is to pick topics we have a sound understanding of and present them whether they are relevant or not; the other is to seek out the holes in your (or your church's) theological theories and patch them before the people even realize there is a hole. That does not mean that there is no profit in seeking greater understanding or affirming good understanding; these are necessary preparations if we are to help people find answers to questions they might have in the future. But when it comes preaching, teaching, and ministering the word, it is vitally important to scratch that spiritual itch and not irritate healthy faith.


  1. I think that sometimes answering questions that people haven't had can be healthy...Especially if your statements spark more questions...

    But I also think that in general the way we teach adventist doctrine is separated from peoples daily life and thus is irrelevant to daily living.

    What is needed is pastors and theologians to help us understand the doctrines in a way that is answering the questions that people truly ask...

  2. What I hear you saying is that answering questions people haven't asked is Ok if the answer isn't just academic but actually makes a difference in their life. I think that's a good way of scratching a spiritual itch. Sometimes we have to be directed to ask the right question to find the answer we need

  3. My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions!

    Read My Inaugural Address Online

    My Site
    Your jaw will drop!