Last week we looked at questions that atheists tend to shy away from for whatever reason, and we looked at questions that are truly off-limits to those in an atheistic world. Today, we will see if Christianity has any such questions.
What is Off Limits In The Church?
One of the great
advantages of Christianity over atheism is that the questions that are
off limits in atheism are central to Christianity- God exists and He
does have a purpose for all the pain and suffering that we experience.
But does Christianity have its own questions that it says are off limits
that may cause the worldview to implode?
The Culture of "Questions Not Allowed"
Around the age of
12 or 13, I discovered that my asking questions was quite annoying to many
people. Generally people didn't mind my asking a couple basic questions
here and there. But when I started asking a lot of questions, or my
questions began to point out a real issue between two facts, their
demeanor changed. I noticed this especially in church. People didn't
mind my asking some basic questions about Christianity, but when I
started getting into deeper theology, they ran. Some rebuked the
questioning. This gave me a very sour feeling around many fellow
Christians, as if asking tough questions about what we believed was off
limits. This was one of the reasons that I drifted away from the Church.
My thoughts were these: if Christianity is true, why are Christians so afraid of being challenged? Christianity was for the intellectually weak and emotionally driven.
my experience over the last several years with defenders of
Christianity, these questions have not only been welcomed, but they have
been answered. The last ten years have been a fantastic intellectual
smorgasbord for me. However, as much as I'd like to say that Christians
are becoming more willing to talk about their faith and be challenged,
I've also experienced the real resistance to challenges. Since I am much
older and (hopefully) more mature, I can articulate the specifics of
the challenges and their implications better. Unfortunately, I recently
experienced the same resistance that I experienced when I was young.
have to admit that it is incredibly difficult to not go ballistic when I encounter this attitude in the Church. So, I will keep this part short: the Church is pushing intellectual people
who are honestly seeking the truth away from Christ because individual
Christians refuse to challenge their beliefs. Those who offer the
challenges believe that Christianity cannot answer their challenges because Christians
would rather stick their fingers in their ears and ignore the challenge
than seek to answer the challenge or adjust their own belief to reflect
what is true. If you say that Christianity is the one true worldview, you need to be willing to put your mind where your mouth is.
Moving along: even
though people do not allow questioning, it does not mean that the
questions cannot and should not be asked. But, it also does not mean
that all questions suddenly make sense and are allowed.
The Reality of Questions Not Allowed
I pointed out within atheism, there are questions that are actually off
limits in Christianity. But unlike in atheism, they do not cause the
claims of Christianity to be false or even questionable. They actually
reinforce the truth of Christianity. Most questions that would be off
limits in Christianity are direct attacks on God's power. The two that I
want to examine today are these: "Can God make a square circle?" and
"Can God create a rock so big that He can't pick it up?".
first seems like a silly question for anyone to ask of anyone, because
of the fact that circles cannot be square, squares cannot be circles.
Neither can you have a shape that is one and have the essential
attributes of the other. The ridiculousness of the question is what
gives it its persuasiveness- if God cannot create a square circle, then
he cannot possibly be all-powerful; which means that either the
Christian God does not exist or is not all-powerful (neither are very
palatable to the Christian). The reason that this particular question is
a silly (off limits) question in Christianity is because reason is
grounded in God's nature and no amount of power can make the
unreasonable reasonable, or the impossible possible. It is in God's
nature to be rational and reasonable, not irrational and unreasonable.
Therefore, the fact that God cannot create a square circle has no
bearing on whether or not He is all-powerful or exists. Irrational
questions, like in reality, are off limits in Christianity.
second is a little less obvious, but is also an attack on God's power. I
remember being asked this in my fifth grade class. Interestingly
enough, my answer has only changed in articulation since I first
answered my teacher. My answer was this: God is not limited by gravity.
From a scientific perspective, gravity is a physical force that
originated inside the universe. A physical force cannot affect anything
non-physical, and most scientists would grant that gravity's affect is
limited to the universe. From a theological perspective, God created
gravity. God is not subject to his creation. Therefore, God is not
subject to gravity. From both perspectives, God is not an object of
mass, gravity acts upon mass, therefore gravity does not act upon God.
What we have here is a "category error" in the question along with a
false assumption. The question (falsely) assumes
that a physical force has effects on non-physical entities. Because of
these two errors in logic, the question is silly (or off limits).
though these questions are off limits, they do not cause the Christian
worldview to implode. They actually affirm that Christianity accurately
describes the world in which we live. Logic is an inescapable reality
that most people would grant. In atheism, logic must be jettisoned if we
are to wrestle with the drive to know ultimate purpose behind pain and
suffering. Logic is strongly affirmed in its placement of illogical
questions into the realm of "off limits" in the Christian worldview, just
as they are in reality.