When reading through the gospels, one can’t help but notice how many times people stop Jesus to ask him a question or Jesus stopped to ask a question. People asked Him questions all the time. He always gave them an answer, but it usually wasn’t the sort of answer they were looking for.Jesus sometimes asked questions test whether or not people understood what he was saying, and sometimes it was to challenge what they had already believed.
Sadly, asking too many or the wrong kinds of questions at church can get you into trouble – especially if you catch people off-guard. Bible Studies are now designed so that only the ‘right’ questions get asked, and teachers are taught how to silence wrong ones:
> by suggesting that the discussion has gone off-topic, is unimportant, and frivolous.
> by questioning the motivation behind the question.
> by suggesting that you are not apart of them and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
> by assuming that if you did understand the topic then you would agree with them – so you must not understand the topic.
> by making you doubt you’re right or making you doubt you understand the topic.
> by telling you to let it go.
> by telling you to ignore anything problematic.
> by telling you that your creating division and suggesting it’s more important to not cause division than to hear what you have to say.
> by telling you that you talk too much about the issue and should focus on other things.
> by trying to get back to the main topic, even if that means interrupting what you’re saying.
> by telling you not to question the facts (as is, the Bible clearly states …)
> by telling you not to question the interpretation of the facts (as in, the Bible clearly states …)
> by telling you not to question the person interpreting the Bible (as in, my degree on the wall there proves I know what I’m talking about …)
> by telling you not to question the translators that interpreted the Bible (because apparently the original language of scripture was the King James Version and it was never in Greek, Aramaic, or Latin.)
> by telling you that everybody else unanimously agrees on an interpretation and you’re wrong for having one of your own. (How dare you think for yourself? You might have your own opinion and become a heretic!)
> one last sign that the other person has lost the debate is when they stop arguing the topic and start attacking you personally.
While Bible Studies are now a mostly quiet teaching from one person to a group, it hasn’t always been that way. There are some parts of the world where a religious text is loudly debated, each and every point is questioned, not only for it’s intended meaning, but it’s relevance today. Walking by such buildings, it’s likely easy to hear verses of scripture being read aloud and people talking about them. The students there would have to figure out what they believed and why they believed it to be true … as a result, they were filled with more conviction to actually follow the commands of scripture and make a change in their lives.
Jesus never felt the need to prevent people from asking question, he never told them what they had to say was unimportant, He told them exactly what they needed to hear, even knowing they would get angry about the answers. A church that doesn’t allow questions, won’t have any answers.