On Sunday we will set aside liturgy and normal order for a bit in favor of an open hymn sing and a “Stump the Pastor” morning. People can ask/text/write to me any questions they wish that are on their minds, dealing with church, theology, Bible, belief or my hair.
Yes, hair, as in “What color is your hair today?” and “Is that curl/frizz for real?”
But on to more serious things. I know I’ve said lots of times, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask ...” and then go off on whatever issue is bothering me that particular day.
Well, I’m a long way from being God — although, of course, I’d like to think I’m on the verge of godliness — and am interested in hearing the questions that seriously bug people about spiritual/religious/church/salvation/Bible stuff.
Will I have answers? Of course! Now, if you are going to ask, “Will she have the right answers?” the response may be a bit different.
The thing about “right answers” is that we tend to think the right answer is the one we already agree with. Since no one has ever accused me of being a particularly conventional thinker, the chances of my answers agreeing with lots of others is highly remote.
Nonetheless, I’ve spent my life studying the Bible and reading theology, exploring eternal things and seeing how our hopes for freedom from brokenness and disease and war and just general nastiness tie in with the biblical witness.
So here are some of my questions:
Was it really necessary for Jesus to die?
Why are we humans so generally unkind to each other?
What is this thing called “the kingdom of heaven?”
Is the Bible (and therefore God) as sexist, racist and pro-slavery as it looks on a first read? If so, will heaven be sexist, racist, etc?
Can someone who was thoroughly rotten, evil, cruel and destructive in this life be admitted to heaven and perfect bliss by simply saying “the sinner’s prayer” on his or her deathbed?
OK, all that came out in one interconnected thought. Deep breath time.
More questions flow:
Why is there so much poverty in the world?
Why is it that some of the most evil people are also the richest?
Can people who abuse little children actually go to heaven? If not, where is the line drawn?
What about just lazy and irresponsible parents? Or men who have been “baby daddies” to multiple offspring by multiple women but who support neither the women nor the children?
What about drug dealers who systematically take over and corrupt entire neighborhoods? Do they get in if they are believers in Jesus?
And what does it mean to “believe in Jesus?” What if the Jesus I believe in doesn’t match the Jesus you believe in?
Then of course there are the almost universal questions like:
Do unbaptized/unbelieving children go to hell if they die before the “age of accountability” as many Christian groups teach?
What is the “age of accountability” for those born with severely damaged brains and reasoning abilities or with differently wired brains that cannot grasp metaphor and other language that seek to explore the spiritual and unseen world?
And since we’ve been examining the nature of the battle between good and evil for the last few weeks, there are these questions: “Why doesn’t God just wipe out all the evil in the world? Why does it have such free reign?”
And I haven’t even begun on “If evolution is true, is there a literal Adam and Eve?”
Send me yours!
The youth of the church have already offered a list and it would be great fun to create a compilation of the “most wanted to ask” questions.
And a huge challenge to answer them — the kind of challenge that energizes me to the core of my soul.
THE REV. CHRISTY THOMAS is the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Krum. Reach her by calling 940-482-3482 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .