Questions– and Answers– that Build Faith

A 20-30 something Adventist woman recently asked a number of questions, the kind of questions lots of people wonder about, but not everyone has the courage to ask. To protect her, I’m not going to reveal her name, although I hope she’ll use the comments section to dialogue with me, while maintaining her anonymity.

Before I begin looking at these questions, I want to make one very strong point. Too many Adventists of my age or older, reading questions like these, tend to say, “Well, obviously, this young woman just hasn’t accepted the TRUTH.” Be advised, comments of that sort are not welcome on this blog.

My experience tells me that, on the contrary, these are exactly the type of questions– if asked and answered honestly– build faith. For many reasons, I am convinced that this young woman is asking honestly. And even if she were not, it would be my duty as a Christian to assume that they are honest questions, and– here is the really hard part for most of us– to be equally honest in answers.

One more thing. The only answers that count are ones that a person has made their own. Just repeating “Answers to Bible Questions” written by someone else simply won’t cut it.  To be of any use at all, it must have the ring of conviction, and the texture of experience. It must be real. So, here’s my pledge to. . . I’ll call her Cindy (not her real name): I’ll give you my answers, from my study and experience. I’ll welcome questions, and I won’t press you to agree. You and God will have to work out your faith. All I can do is share mine.

So I’m going to begin by simply listing her qeustions, in her words.

1. Is the Bible fallible?  In any way?  How much have human beings had a hand in the Bible, and how much of it is “culture?”  For example, women are told to keep their heads covered.  Our answer is that it was a cultural thing in the day.  How much of the Bible was culture and not directly applicable?  How much is culture and, frankly, wrong??  (Ie. position of women, hatred of gays, racism against other cultures, etc)

2.  Why don’t the Old and New Testaments agree?  I know that we are supposed to believe that they ultimately DO agree, but after reading them for myself and comparing, they do NOT agree.  The OT says that we should not even touch a pig.  The NT says that what passes a man’s mouth does not make him unclean.  Yes, the NT was talking about different issues, but the rules seemed to have changed after Jesus came.  In the OT a man was stoned for picking up sticks on Sabbath.  In the NT, we are told not to judge people based on Sabbaths.  So if God is the same yesterday, today and forever, why isn’t He the same spanning a few thousand years?

3.  I am reading the Messianic prophecies, and many of them are entirely out of context.  David was not talking about Jesus’ death, he was talking about his own experience feeling hounded by his enemies.  Things where we point out and say, “See?  That is Jesus there!” in the OT are talking about something entirely different in context.  So in the OT, we don’t care about context, but suddenly in the NT, we care a lot about context.  Why the flip?

4.  If the feast days were given to be celebrated “forever” and for all generations, why do we not celebrate them now?  Granted, there were sacrifices involved, but God never actually said to stop celebrating them.  All of the Adventist arguments for the Sabbath not being “nailed to the cross” could be used for the feast days as well.

5.  Why did the OT never speak about a Heaven or Hell?  Why was there no mention of life after death directly?

6.  Why do there seem to be two different versions of the Messianic Second Coming?  Version one is that there will be a cataclysmic event with trumpets and angels and dead being raised.  Version two is that the righteous reign will just sort of slide in, and the earth will worship the one true God, living good long lives, but still apparently dying.  Is one version wrong?  If so, see the question about the fallicy of the Bible.


Comments

Questions– and Answers– that Build Faith — 2 Comments

  1. thanks ed! i’m really looking forward to hearing what you have to say on these questions. i’ve been struggling, trying to make my peace with them for some time. faith is a very personal process, but sometimes another perspective can make things make more sense.

    • Important questions, Ed and Cindy. Thank you for raising them. I think it’s important to get them on the table and talk about them. I won’t trivialize them by attempting pat answers (although most of us have done some thinking on them). For now I’ll just touch on the aspect of heaven and hell in the OT.

      My view of it is that God was teaching His people how to live for Him in this world, since the next world was not until thousands of years later. But there is just enough there to bring readers of the OT hope for eternity. For example, the Job’s dramatic and triumphant testimony at his lowest moment:
      “For I know that my Redeemer lives, at the last he will stand upon the earth.
      And after my skin has been thus destroyed, in my flesh I shall see God,whom I shall see for myself,
      and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).

      Then of course there are the closing words of the familiar 23rd Psalm: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

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