2067—What if someone asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to?
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute. Let us say you are in a conversation with a person who is not a believer, and that person asks you a question you do not know the answer to. What should you say? This is a matter of heart, not knowledge, on both yours and the other person’s part.
First, there are questions of the trivial variety, like “Can God create a stone He cannot lift?” Philosophers through the ages, and in mathematics, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem address this, but it isn’t a serious question for someone seeking truth, it’s a parlor game. That God is in the sentence is irrelevant; it has to do with the use of positive and negative terms in a certain alignment, and that, in turn, differs in different languages.
Now, for relevant questions. First, this situation, for you, has to do with obedience to Jesus. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell the person, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Now, at this point, you have given your word as a matter of desiring to honor Jesus. This matter is, for you, even more a matter between you and God than it is between this other person and yourself, or that person and God. Next, you need to be connected to mature believers who are willing to struggle with the difficult situations of this life, and not give cleaver answers that pass the buck. What do I mean by this? Here’s an example. I’ve indicated in other spots that I have come to see that New Covenant believers are to be generous, but the tithe was in the Old Covenant only. If I didn’t, then “Should a believer tithe on the net or gross of one’s paycheck?” would be a valid question. An answer I have heard given by speakers more than once, “Do you want a net blessing or gross blessing?” may be humorous, but it is not an answer, much less an honest, thoughtful answer of a mature believer, which that speaker is implying that he or she is, one that cares to truly see other believers grow in faith. I do not care what titles or degrees that person has or does not have—avoiding honest questions is irresponsible before Jesus with being in a position of leading others towards maturity of faith. If possible, and it is in this culture, we all need to be associated with mature believers that will assist us with these honest answers to honest questions, so we all may grow up to do the same, and, no matter how young one is spiritually, one should desire, as part of honoring Jesus with one’s life, to be that mature believer that assists the next generation. Might I suggest that part of that is being around spiritual leaders that desire and expect each of us to grow to a level of responsibility in living for Jesus and seeing those around us grow in faith that is equal or higher than where that leader is at. That is far better done in one on one conversations, not generalized lectures. There are supposed leaders today who do not want that, either because intentionally or subliminally, they are protecting their position or paycheck, or ego or that just possibly they don’t believe that, if God truly created the universe, that everything in the universe does fit together and make sense-- albeit not in a manner that can be explained in 25 words or less--or even 25 minutes or less.
Lastly, there are some questions that God has not told us the answer to. Francis Schaeffer wrote that God has, in giving us the Bible the way He did, communicated to us truly, but not exhaustively. That means the Bible tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, and that, in turn, means that God understood before creation all the subatomic small to astrophysical large processes it takes to have this universe work. I believe it takes less faith to believe the God of the Bible than it takes to believe it happened by a one over one times 10 to the one hundred second power chance. On the opposite side, a Bible doesn’t replace a Chilton’s manual if you need to bleed the brakes on your car, although the whole process works on principles God ordained for this universe.
At the point that you have found out the answer, or whether there is none, and you have communicated that, you are not responsible for the other person being satisfied with the answer. You are responsible to live to honor Jesus. We must understand that the Holy Spirit works both through our minds and our spirits, and He can and sometimes does speak to a person through the intellectually unsatisfying answer. All of us believers have wondered why God didn’t tell us something, and then did tell us some of the things He did in the Old Testament.
I have been a believer since 1968, and I feel that I have desired, albeit imperfectly, to serve Jesus with all that is in me, including my mind. I have spent some of my life as a believer in a Calvinistic tradition, which tends to overemphasize intellectualism. I have spent part of my life in the charismatic-Pentecostal tradition, which in some places does the opposite. During the winter of 2011, I ran into the fact that the word in Acts 19 that is translated “assembly”, referring to the mob protesting the work of Paul in
was “ekklesia”, which in all other places in the New Testament is translated “church.” As the mob was not just non-believers, but was opposed to Paul’s work, and was supporting the idol makers in Ephesus Ephesus, and the idols were for the , a fertility (i.e. sex) cult, the question occurred to me, “were the idols the idol makers were making what we, in this culture, would call pornographic?” I looked at a number of books, and couldn’t find any comment on this. I already knew that to not be surprising, as all kinds of Christian writers over the centuries have been less forthcoming on the subject of sexuality as God is. I called a man I know in this area that has had seminary training and has been and still is involved in foreign missionary work. After a few days, he directed me to some resources which, to my surprise, indicate that, as much as one might expect the answer to be “yes,” and in spite of the archeology done in the ancient Greek world, the answer to my specific question, at this time is, we don’t know for certain. temple of Diana