Ask Anything

We recently started a new topic on Sunday mornings called Ask Anything: Questions and conversations about life, faith, and God.  Our hope is to embrace questions as an integral part of our life with God as we try to live into Jesus' teaching of being people who "ask, seek, and knock."

Often times questions are not welcomed in church spaces and churches become places where answers are given rather than questions asked.  Additionally, we have routinely turned the Bible into an answer book that provides certainty rather than a book that raises questions.  What's ironic about this is that so many of us have questions, and our faith tradition actually welcomes these questions more than we probably know.  In some ways, you can call the Bible a question book because it asks questions of God, of ourselves, and of our world.  Examples of this include God's questions to Adam and Eve in the Garden, the Psalmists questions to God in times where it seems God has abandoned us, God's questions to Job, Jesus questions to his audience, and more. 

David Dark in his book, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything says this: 
"When religion won’t tolerate questions, objections, or differences of opinion, and when it only brings to the table threats of excommunication, violence, and hellfire, it obstructs our ability to think, empathize, and live lives of authenticity and genuine engagement. The God of the Bible not only encourages questions; the God of the Bible demands them. If that were not so, we wouldn’t live in a world of such rich, God-given complexity in which wide-eyed wonder is part and parcel of the human condition. The possibility of redemption and revolution depends on the questions we ask of God, governments, media, and everyday economies. It is by way of the questions that we resist the conformity that deadens and come alive to visions that redeem.”

So it is our hope at Oak Life to be a space where our questions are welcomed.  Where our doubts and curiosities can be transformed into divine inquiry where we seek, knock, and ask in a way that leads us to deeper truth and deeper intimacy with the God who loves us more than we can possibly know. 

As we started this conversation, we invited our community to write down their questions.  These questions will become the discussion topics for each Sunday for the next few weeks.  Since there were way too many questions to cover just on Sundays, we tried our best to group these together in ways that make sense.  It was actually really cool to see how many people asked touch questions, and how often similar questions were being asked.  Again, the goal here is to offer answers where answers are appropriate, but often times our questions will lead to more questions, so this is not a Q & A series but a Q & C (conversation) series.  We hope you can join us as we wrestle and learn and grow together! 

Here are the grouped questions for our series: 
(Also, feel free to post comments for discussion below)

Patriarchy, and Institutional Issues in the Church:
-"Why does the church never talk about it's own negative histories?  Couldn't we learn from it?"
-"How doe we help people know God when they first associate organized religion with systematic oppression, evil, judgement, corruption, and colonialism?  While Christ does not have a dark history Christianity in-arguably does, and it is challenging when people won't talk about Christ because of it."
-"How much of our faith (Bible, church history, current leaders) is based in patriarchy?  How has that changed God's message?  Does it matter if it is true that God is filtered in the Bible b/c of the truth of men at the time?"
-"How do we dismantle patriarchy?"

Evil / Satan:
-"How can modern, liberal, inclusive Christians visualize, understand, and oppose Satan?... P.S. The Satan Concept has some conservative baggage but I think can be a helpful concept."

-"I know we live in a broken and desperate world.  At times I question the difference between the consequences of human frailty and God's design."
-"If God supplies my food, clothing, and shelter, and we are to trust him with our lives, why does He allow women and youth to be sold as sex slaves by ISIS?  Why does God take care of me and not them?"
-"Are we the Laodician Church?  At a time when Christians are being hunted and killed, is everything I want or need pure vanity and indulgence?"
-"Why do we try to justify suffering in the world through the lessons being learned through it?"

-"What is blocking us from seeing and experiencing more physical healing?"
-"Why are there no more miracles?"
-"Why are Christians not witnessing the power Jesus said he poses? John 14:12"

Eschatology (Final Things), and the Afterlife:
-"I was always taught that the rapture could happen at any given second, but also that a certain sequence of events has to happen first.  Which is it, or is there a third theory?"
-"Do Non-believers go to heaven?  Many live more Christ-like lives than Christians..."
-"What happens to non-Christians?"
-"If sin is "dead" then why does Jesus have to return?"
-"Why can't people attain peace or salvation through their own faith (that is, faith that does not subscribe to Jesus being the only way)?"

Seeking / Knowing God:
-"Is questioning a lack of faith?"
-"God! Why are you so silent sometimes?"
-"What is the difference between God and the Golden Calf beside our belief that God is God is God and the Golden Calf is not. And what is the difference between us and the Israelites who wanted to believe in a divine when in doubt?"
-"If we are not actively seeking answers from God (or more of the time at a place of apathy/distance) does God present the same type of questions, challenges, etc. in our life as He would if we were seeking?"
-"God is God (diagram of 3 circles), but Jesus sometimes feels like a separate dude.. why are our words so bad?"

-"What if we or Christianity got it all wrong?'
-"Is faith a series of small victories, or can I really be transformed and renewed?"
-"What is the point of it all?"

Other/ Misc:
-"Why does it matter to anybody if Jesus did or didn't marry, have kids, etc.?"
-"What is the role of Israel in the Christian faith?"
-"Why is it at all controversial in the church to be transgender?"
-"How meaningful is Jesus' sacrifice if he knew he was coming back anyway?"
-"If hell is so miserable, then isn't that where Jesus would want to send his followers? (to do ministry, provide comfort, etc.)"
-"Why are people narcissistic, apathetic, fearful, and addicted to certainty?  It follows, can we be addicted to un-certainty?
-"What is the point of praying to ask for things if God is unchanging?"