I did say I would write a post every day, didn’t I? Hmm. That was probably silly of me. But I will stand by my word. It was hard to find time to write today (my wife and toddler enjoyed lots of family time with me), so this’ll be a short, off-the-cuff post.
If you’ve been a living human for any significant amount of time, chances are you’ve experienced a burning question or two. Something you can’t get out of your mind. A puzzle that insists you keep trying to solve it, even if it has to go on the back burner at times. It keeps you up at night, and drives you to research at every chance you get. (No? Just me? Surely not!)
It may not be among the world’s most significant questions (like the physicist’s quest for a “theory of everything”). It could even be something super trivial in the grand scheme of things — like “What color was a T-rex?” (Probably not chartreuse, but could you imagine? lol) In my case, it’s almost always theological. Questions about God, the Bible, and how we should live in light of such things are questions of eternal consequence.
How often do such questions prompt you to keep asking? To keep seeking after more truth, to keep knocking on the doors of wise counselors or keep poring over books? Most truly burning questions exist that way because, well, there simply aren’t perfect answers available to us this side of eternity, given the messiness of our world and the limitations of our fallen human minds. For now, we only know things “in part,” like looking in a foggy mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Burning questions should keep us humble and curious. Humble because we do not know everything and there is so much that each of us doesn’t know. And curious because there’s always more exciting truth to discover, and we can always improve how we’re currently understanding or doing things.
There are a handful of such burning questions that I’ve wrestled with and found settled answers to. One is that there is a God — an inherently good and powerful God who set this universe spinning and designed life with all its complexity. Another is that Jesus of Nazareth lived, was crucified, and left an empty tomb behind him, and therefore, whatever other questions I may explore about religion, or how to interpret the Bible, or of what true Christianity should look like, I bank it all on the central idea that Jesus is Lord, that salvation and a truly fulfilled human life are only possible through relationship with him, and that I must trust Scripture as God’s authoritative word (however we wrestle with everything in it) because he affirmed it to be such. And lastly, I’ve firmly concluded that T-Rexes were reddish-brown.
Or maybe they were green.
Okay, we’ll keep that one on the burner for now. Anyway. The main thing I wanted to do with this post is to share some of the questions that are currently burning hottest in my mind. Apart from my core Christian theism I described above, which I don’t really see myself ever changing and would be quite happy to die for, I have many settled convictions that it would be incredibly difficult to change my mind on. But even those I regularly reopen to scrutiny, since, again, I don’t know everything. (Yet! Working on it!) Everything else is up for grabs. I firmly believe “all truth is God’s truth,” as the axiom says, so I try my level best to follow evidence where it leads, keep an open mind, and (crucially) show love and kindness to others who disagree, since we’re all still learning.
With all that said, here are some of the burning questions that have been hottest on my mind lately; questions I’m still in the thick of pondering and researching and may even write about as I’m in this daily posting schedule.
How should we be “doing church” in our increasingly post-Christian culture? What elements that are common among local evangelical congregations need to change? (Or even be dropped altogether?)
How can local congregations here in my hometown make a bigger difference helping the poor, needy, and vulnerable? How can I personally be making a bigger difference?
If this Covid-19 outbreak lasts for months, how much of our society will change and how will the church adapt?
Having seen some really strong arguments for a conditionalist understanding of hell, how would it make sense of the language of Revelation 14:11 and 20:10?
Why does there seem to be so little interest in the afterlife and eschatological salvation for so much of the Old Testament? Why didn’t God just give every person the gospel message right away? (Related to that is the ever-perplexing issue of those who have never heard the gospel, though I have a slightly more settled conviction on that.)
Those are just a few of the thoughts that keep me up at night. Feel free to share your thoughts, or your own burning questions, in the comments below.
See you down the path.