I’ve watched several kid shows in the last few years that have advocated the questioning of religion. They hid it in the plot of the movie, and thought they were being so smooth about it. The plot of two different ones I watched recently: a community of secluded people, rigorously follow the guidance of a higher power, but the younger generation discovers something inconsistent in the teaching and begins to question it. Consequently they are shunned and disowned by the community of tyrannical religionist, but later vindicated and the religious establishment is undone. All their power of control is lost over the community and the community is then rebuilt with a more educated worldview and the inevitable happy ending ensues. In one such movie, they even followed the decrees of stone tablets that had been passed down by their clan, sound familiar? The slogan was, “Never question the tablets!” I’ll admit, at first I was horribly frustrated by this whole subplot in these kid’s movies. But, then I considered it — while I’m not a fan of the attitude that says challenge everything, and be suspicious of any religious restrictions. I would encourage a person to question everything. It isn’t that we are trying to challenge the establishment. And it can’t be denied that tyranny and control have been employed by certain religious organizations through history, but that doesn’t mean that ALL religion is bad. Question the teachings, doctrines, and practices of a church — but that doesn’t mean you have to be skeptical, negative, antagonistic, or challenging at every corner. Just inquire and search, seems like Paul mentions something like this, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). This is exactly what the Bereans did, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Maybe we should then qualify the previous admonition, question everything except someone’s motive. Does this church teach baptism is an action performed after someone has been saved? Why? What scripture supports that teaching? How does this church use its money? Is there Scripture to back such a practice? Or is it speculation, theory, or guesswork? What does the Book say? How does this church handle when Scripture doesn’t address a topic? There are only so many ways the silence of Scripture can be handled, does this church make sure that they handle it in accordance with Scripture? How does this church view the Trinity? Does it laud the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? Does this church view the Bible as the complete and inherent revelation of God? That God indeed spoke to mankind and this book is exactly what He intended us to have through the ages? Does this church teach there is a coming judgment, wherein King Jesus will judge the world? Does this church teach the doctrine of heaven and hell as eternal realities? Does this church teach anything about modesty, dancing, sexual purity, marriage|divorce|remarriage, drinking? Does this church see them as part of holy living? Does this church address them? There’s scripture to back every one of these questions, but for the sake of space they could not be included.
It is hard to encourage someone to question everything, but the only way you will dig deeply and find true conviction is to ask good questions and not give up until you get good answers. Briefly we must acknowledge, you may not find answers that satisfy you. You may ask some questions to which there are no good clear answers. Some of the more philosophical questions out there have no solid answer. But, I think generally if we are asking good questions, we will find good answers. Once we establish the more basic, or foundational questions/answers, the rest is then acted upon by faith. I heard a preacher friend recently say, “If we had all the answers, then we wouldn’t be acting on faith.”
Question everything. It’s okay, you are actually doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. And parents, I know it can be scary — but if you are doing your job, you will have the answers that satisfied you some years earlier already prepared to help them through it.