What If What You Believe Is Wrong?

alone-62253_1280It’s simply a question, but it’s bothersome already isn’t it? Blasphemous, heretical, misled. Or is it? It’s just a question. In itself, it’s innocuous. But questions that challenge our beliefs get us so very bent out of shape.

Read some of these questions and pay attention to what comes up in you just by reading them (anger, relief, tension, frustration, etc).

What if what you believe is wrong?

 

What if there is a God?

What if there isn’t a God?

 

What if macro evolution is the way things came to be?

What if everything was created by God in 7 literal days?

What if neither is right?

 

What if the church is a sham?

What if the church is God’s intention for humanity to experience him on earth today?

 

What if Democrats are right?

What if Republicans are right?

What if they’re both wrong?

 

What if being a good person is enough to go to heaven?

What if being a good person doesn’t matter at all?

What if Jesus loves everyone regardless of who they are or what they do?

 

What if Muslims are right?

What if Christians are right?

What if Jews are right?

What if Atheists are right?

What if Buddhists are right?

What if Hindus are right?

What if none of them are right?

What if all of them are right?

 

What if heaven is only attainable if we follow a set of rules or guidelines?

What if there’s not a hell?

What if hell does exist?

What if asking questions should be discouraged?

What if asking questions should be welcomed?

What comes up in you as you read these questions? Do some put you at ease? Do others make your blood boil? Remember, these are just questions. In fact, they are paired together to ask the question on the same subject with both a positive and a negative.

Did any questions make you uncomfortable? Which ones, and why?

These really are just questions. What do you assume about me for asking them? What do you assume about others who ask them?

Do you find yourself quickly moving to polarize your view against the question? Why?

What if we could learn to hold the tension of a question regardless of our firmly held beliefs? What if we could hold that tension and enter into a conversation?

What if…

 

*if you’re interested, a great book on the art of inquiry by Warren Berger is A More Beautiful Question. I highly recommend it.

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8 thoughts on “What If What You Believe Is Wrong?

  1. None of the questions made my blood boil. Jesus asked lots of questions, questioned the status quo. Daniel set his my to understanding and heaven esteemed him for it.

    I asked questions in a Bible study I wrote and some wanted to stone me. As if asking a few questions would collapse their whole house of cards.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Adam…exceptional post. Keep ’em coming!!! Thank you for both the honesty and courage to ask these questions. Don’t stop. Keep questioning. With you, for you…….all the way! And…be safe in your travels this summer…and then hurry home to Colorado!!!

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  3. As long as you have an understanding of why you believe what you believe, and you’re willing to examine challenges, I think these questions are harmless. I KNOW the answers to some. I believe I have the answers to others. I believe some are irrelevant (political parties for example).
    What boils my blood is people only allowing questions from one point of view.
    Looking forward to exploring questions with you in person!

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    • Matt, thanks for entering the conversation. I too look forward to exploring more in person. I agree that we can all create better space to welcome questions from all points of view.

      I’m interested in listening to your answers to many of these questions as responses to these vary from person to person. Many people will approach these questions with disregard to the question itself. For example, when I ask, what if there is not a hell?, many people will respond with arguments for the existence of hell, but to do so is to disregard the question itself. The question was not, “Why do you think hell exists? or Does hell exist?” The question was, “what if…” So, the responses to that can be wildly different. If there’s not a hell then what I believe about eternity may be shaken. What I believe about aspects of scripture might be undone. What I believe about salvation would have to be rethought. What I think about evangelism would need to be reconsidered. Does that make sense?

      For so long, I missed the question because I went straight to my answer. I’m finding that when people ask me question like these they are looking for my conversation, engagement and willingness to explore the impact of a thought on my worldview.

      I reframe these type of questions to better enter the conversation. What would be the impact on my belief system or worldview if this aspect (ex: hell) did or did not exist?

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  4. This is going to be fun! I love your perspective on questions, and that’s a great thing for me to think about…am I really hearing the questions? On this specific example, that’s a bit like asking, “What if there was no oxygen in the air?” Yes, it would reframe what I believe and my worldview, and to me it’s a non-sensical question. I know there is oxygen in the air I breathe, and I know there is a hell. I don’t know the dynamics of the percentage of oxygen, or how exactly it gets carried to my body, etc; just like I don’t know the details of hell.
    Doesn’t really matter to me. I know I need to breathe, I know I need Jesus, the rest isn’t important to me.
    Outside of that example, I love the idea of working through hearing the actual questions.

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    • Matt, thanks for continuing to engage on these topics. I enjoy the discussion. I’m learning and growing from the interaction.

      What is nonsensical to you may not be to others. My effort here with questions is for each of us to be better able to interact with those who hold differing beliefs. By entering the conversation it is disarming and allows us to explore the foundations of what we believe. Those who do not share your worldview may not believe in hell, or heaven for that matter. What I’m advocating is a way of inquiry and engagement that leads to connection, but also leads each of us to further consider why we believe what we believe.

      Let me pose a scenario: One of your daughters comes up to you and asks, “Daddy, what if there wasn’t any gravity on earth?” You can respond in a variety of ways. But for the sake of discussion let’s say you respond by saying, “But that’s crazy. There is gravity. Why would you even ask that question?” (which I don’t think you’d actually say to one of your girls)

      Technically, you’ve reinforced the right answer. There is gravity. But go beyond the technical rightness of the answer. Did you hear her question? She didn’t ask, “Is there gravity?” She asked, “What if there wasn’t?” By diminishing her question you’ve inferred her question rooted in fallacy and therefore skipped over it all together.

      What messages would you have communicated to your daughter with that response?

      Moving beyond the scenario with your child, what does relegating a question to nonsensical say to the person asking? Although not children or childish, questioners receive the same messages as your daughter would depending on the response. By framing it the way you have you’ve I fear you’ve invited an argument or debate.

      If I’m on the other side of this conversation and don’t believe the same things you do I’d ask these questions in light of your response:

      How do you know there’s a hell? Prove it? But prove it without the bible. Prove it on grounds both of our views can agree on. I can prove oxygen on grounds we can both agree on.

      Do you sense the difference between the two approaches? The what if question is asking us to consider another person’s perspective rather than prove our own. It’s a question that takes us further into our beliefs to explore why it is we believe what we do. Maybe doing so surfaces more questions, but more questions may drive us deeper into study, discovery and change.

      Like

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