Vol.XIV No.III Pg.1
May 1977

Questions & Answers

Robert F. Turner

When someone questions your faith or some practice of the church, what is your reaction? Do you immediately regard the querist with suspicion? Do you rush to tell others that he is a heretic, liberal, or even atheist?

If you are confident in your faith and can "give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you" (I Pet. 3:15) is not this an opportunity to teach and assist a friend or brother in their spiritual growth?

Young people sometimes "become atheists" when in reality they do not know enough to be atheists. They simply begin to mature, and want to know why this or that; and we drive them into defensive and antagonistic positions by failing to treat their questions seriously, and really help them find the answers. They do not know enough to believe either; and some times our failure to assist them is a sign of our own ignorance. We throw them a traditional "we've always done it that way" line, and then blame them for rejecting the establishment, or thinking "faith" is superstition. An honest question deserves an honest answer. We should also realize that sometimes the "trick" or debate type question did not originate with the querist, but is being passed on from some third party. We may go far by getting the querist to realize the nature of the "old say" they have been led to ask. Love "thinketh no evil" — gives benefit of doubt.

And when we have reason to believe the querist is quibbling, baiting, or is otherwise insincere, perhaps the best course is to explain patiently why you so judge, and then decline to continue such fruitless wrangling. Make it clear that you will he happy to engage in serious study when it can be conducted on a mature and respectful level. On occasions one may "answer a fool according to his folly" but extensive and imbalanced use of this technique will but feed one's pride in his "professional debater" status. It is not conducive to serious and genuine teaching of truth.

Questions and Answers are the basic ingredients of teaching and learning. Use them to God's glory.