Monday, December 06, 2010

If you could ask God one question what would it be?

The members of the Cardiff University Christian Union asked their friends and this is what they said:

SUFFERING & JUSTICE
How can people who live good lives go to hell and people who have done awful things in their lives get saved and go to heaven? Why is there evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where is God in suffering? If you knew people would sin when they were created, why did you let it happen? If there is a God and he is in control why is there so much suffering in the world? Why do some people suffer more than others? Why does God allow people who appear not to deserve it to suffer and those who do deserve it don’t? Why has God abandoned me? If God is real why do bad things happen in the world? If all my friends and family are not Christian why would I want to go to heaven? Why does God let bad things happen? Why does God allow suffering? If God has the power to heal, why are so many people sick? If God can heal everyone why did my brother die when he was 8? Why are some people not healed? If God has the power for peace, why does he not use it? If someone dies of illness God has got it wrong!

SCIENCE
The creation of the world, big bang and Genesis? Can you believe in God and evolution? If you can how can we trust Genesis and the rest of the Bible as a whole? Genesis can’t be true? How can creation be true when all the evidence points towards evolution? Doesn’t that make the rest of the Bible unreliable? Don’t you believe in Evolution? Is it possible to believe in Christianity and evolution? Wouldn’t the big bang and evolution prove God doesn’t exist? Why have I seen half-human half-ape bones on the BBC? How can God and science be compatible? What place does science have in Christianity? Science has all the answers, so why do we need God? Can you believe in science and religion? How do they relate to one another? How does science fit into faith?


LIFESTYLE
Why should I live for God when living for myself is so fun? Why do I need God, I’m perfectly happy with my life? What’s wrong with getting drunk? What’s the relevance of God in my life, it’s not for me? I don’t want someone else in control of my life? Why do I have to change my lifestyle? Does God want me to change who I am to be a Christian? Sex before marriage? Where and why in the Bible does it say Christian shouldn’t get drunk? What does God think about gays? Why are Christians homophobic? Does God love gay people?


CHRISTIANITY 
Who is Jesus? Who made God? How do I believe in God? Why did God chose to come in the person of Jesus when he did, and not earlier? What is unique about Christianity? What’s the difference between Catholics and Protestants? Why is Christianity better than other faiths? Are other religions as good as Christianity? What’s the difference between religion and the God of Christianity? I believe in God and Jesus but am reluctant to ‘die to the world’ – is there any incentive for me to make the sacrifices Jesus asks for? Why are Christians so nice? Why do they do the good things they do? Why do Christians care for people? Why aren’t Christians perfect and sinless? How do we build a relationship with God? Why do Christians believe in God? My theology course has disproved Christianity for me, how can this be? How can Christians believe the impossible, like Jesus rising from the dead? Why are Christians the chosen ones to be saved? Are all Christians just mad – believing in things that are imaginary? How is Christianity different from cults? How can good people who aren’t Christians be sent to hell?


RELIGION
Why do you go to church? Why do I need religion and God? How is religion relevant? Why do we need religion? I was christened as a baby, am I a Christian? Why are there so many denominations? Why do they disagree on so many things? Why constrain yourself to a set of rules? Why do Christians need to pray together, can’t God hear them when they pray on their own? Why isn’t it enough to be a good and moral person? Can I go to heaven for being a good person?


PSYCHOLOGICAL QUESTIONS
How can we tell that religion and worship aren’t just social pressures and coping mechanisms? If you’re brought up in a Christian family how can you claim not to be brainwashed? How can you suddenly change your mind and become a Christian? Isn’t it just a crutch to be a Christian? Isn’t it just social pressure to be a Christian?

BIBLE
Isn’t Christianity just a spin off of other ancient stories? How come we still need to study the Old Testament? How does it apply to my life today? How do we know the Bible isn’t just made-up stories? Why did the God of the Old Testament appear to be violent and angry but in the New Testament he’s the opposite? Does the Old Testament point to Jesus? Is the Bible sexist? Should the Bible be read literally in every context? Why should I believe the Bible is God’s word when it was written by men? How can I trust the Bible if it is written by Christians? How can you prove that the Bible is historical evidence and trustworthy? Can you trust what the Bible says? Why read the Bible? 


KNOWING GOD
How can you have a relationship with an abstract notion who may not exist? God, why don’t you show yourself to us more clearly so we can all believe you and not just imagine? Why can’t I see or hear God? Why doesn’t God reveal himself so I can see him and believe? How do you know God? Can you physically hear God’s voice? How do you know it’s God and not just a coincidence when a tough situation gets sorted? Why doesn’t God show himself to me? How do we know God is real? What’s the proof? How can you prove there is a God? How can we know that Jesus is the true God? How does God exist to me? How can I know and understand God?

6 comments:

  1. Dave,

    This is a great help to me as I prepare a talk for our carol services on the theme of Knowing God from Colossians 1. I'll be using some of the questions you mentioned in that last paragraph. Thanks for offering these...

    KC+

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  2. An exercise worth doing I think - no point us answering what isn't being asked. The questions that come back are fairly standard but not all of them. They came back on post-it notes rather than categorised and they don't all quite fit right but roughly eight main areas of questions.

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  3. Very interesting. Thanks for this, useful.

    One of our small groups went round their networks of friends and work colleagues and asked the same question. The most dominant question was 'why do I need to bother with God in the first place?' - which is quite a far cry from what most people thought would be the major question.

    I suspect many of the lists of questions compiled for books and courses etc. are done from a pool of people who have already answered that question for themselves, such as, e.g. attendants on an Alpha course or the like. It was really helpful to be reminded that many non-christians (at least, the ones in relationship with our church members) don't have the 'traditional' questions we think they might have, and need persuading that the whole thing is even worth bothering to think about in the first place.

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  4. For our purposes we're shaping titles for a CU mission week so in general I think you'd expect those who will come to events to have a little interest already, and often a Christian friend - but strangers do see publicity and wander in.

    Hopefully the witness of Christians might give some reason to 'bother with God in the first place' though I guess when there is that apathy that's perhaps where some of the more current issues topics might help, or just something that engages with what people do think matters...

    Repeating the exercise with a smaller sampling from another Uni at the moment and it'll be interesting to see how that survey comes back.

    All anecdotal and the same question raised by three people is often not the same actual question.

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  5. Yeah, good point about questions varying from person to person, and also from place to place. I think there are some significant differences between what you'd find asking a bunch of students on the one hand and asking the staff of an 'average' office on the other hand. I suspect it'd even vary from university to university and especially between a traditional/ red brick and a more 'new' sort of university too.

    Great exercise to be getting people to engage in though. And useful for meaningful, persuasive apologetics and evangelism.

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