I’m excited to announce that my next book in the Banned Questions book series, “Banned Questions About Christians,” is available for pre-order at Chalice Press and Amazon. These books ship by year’s end, but I wanted to offer a preview of the questions we will take on in this, the third volume in the series!
Please check it out, share with others who might enjoy the series, and watch for the next post, in which I’ll introduce the fantastic contributors for this volume.
1. Can you be LGBTQ and be a Christian? A minister? More 2denominations and Christian communities are welcoming LGBTQ people, as well as ordaining LGBTQ as ministers. Is this really possible?
2. Preachers such as Joel Osteen preach about Jesus wanting us to be rich. Where does this belief come from? Wasn’t Jesus poor? Didn’t he tell rich people to give everything away?
3. Where did all of the pictures of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus come from? Do Christians really think Jesus was white?
4. Why do some Christians not seem to believe in science? Can a scientist be a Christian? Have there been famous scientists that were Christians?
5. In too many instances, the most gracious, gentle, peaceful, thoughtful, patient, kind, generous, and steadfast people in my life have been non-Christians. Does it really take being a Christian to be Christlike?
6. Is Christianity really just about fire insurance? Are we just trying to make sure we don’t go to hell when we die? And if personal salvation is a once-and-for-all event, why bother taking part in church after that?
7. Some Christians believe the Bible is without error and the only real authority for living, but they ignore parts of the Old and New Testament. Why hold on to six verses on homosexuality but ignore books and chapters about slavery?
8. Are Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Spiritists, Christian Scientists, etc., really Christians? Who gets to decide?
9. Do Christians have to be baptized? Why do some sprinkle while others immerse? Which one is “right”?
10. It seems like there’s a lot of conflict between Christians and Jews. Wasn’t Jesus Jewish? Aren’t Christians technically Jewish too?
11. If all Christians basically believe the same thing, why do they have so many different denominations? And if there are so many denominations struggling to survive, why don’t they just combine with other ones?
12. Can someone be both an atheist and a Christian? If “Christian” actually means “follower of Christ,” could someone be a student of the life of Jesus without accepting the claims of his divinity, or claims of the existence of any divinity at all?
13. Why do so many churches do communion in different ways and on such different schedules? Who is allowed to serve communion? And do all Christians believe the bread and wine/juice actually become the body and blood of Jesus? Why?
14. What do Christians believe about disaster and suffering in the world? If God has a plan, why is suffering part of it? How do Christians reconcile suffering in their own lives?
15. I’ve met lots of people who say they are Christian but haven’t been to church in a long time. I’ve even met some who say they were raised Christian but never went to church. Can you be Christian outside of a community of Christians?
16. When a baby is conceived, where do Christians believe that soul comes from? Is it created at that moment or has it been floating in existence in the universe from the beginning of time?
17. It seems like most Christians focus a lot more on issues of sex and sexuality than any other issues. Why?
18. Why does “living a Christian lifestyle” mean people quit drinking alcohol, or cussing, or watching R-rated movies, or listening to secular music?
19. I hear Christians say all the time that, good or bad, everything happens for a reason. What about genocide? Famine? Rape? What could the reason possibly be? Does there have to always be a reason?
20. What defines someone as an emergent Christian? Is it a worship style? A theology? What is it trying to achieve? Is there a difference between “emerging” and “emergent,” or are they synonymous?
21. Where does the idea that so many Christians and political leaders maintain about the United States being a Christian nation come from? Do all Christians believe this?
22. How is it that so many Christians support—or even call for—wars when one of the names for the Christ they supposedly follow is “Prince of Peace,” and Jesus urged love for enemies and nonviolent responses?
23. Does somebody have to believe in the literal Resurrection in order to be a Christian?
24. Why do Christians focus on the Ten Commandments, but not any of the other laws found in the Old Testament, like those found in Leviticus?
25. How do some Christians use their faith to oppose abortion, while also supporting the death penalty or personal gun rights?
26. Many Christians describe themselves as “evangelical.” What does that mean? Is that the same as being conservative?
27. What’s different about postmodern Christianity? I hear the word “postmodern” used a lot among Christians, especially younger ones, but it’s not clear what is meant by it.
28. What do Christians believe about the nature of God? Do they believe that God is a transcendent “Other” that sits out there beyond this reality? If so, does God bridge the gap to deal with human affairs? Can we bridge the gap to reach God? Or is God not a transcendent Other but a part of us? Or some middle ground, something else altogether? Are we a part of God?
29. There has been a lot of media attention paid to “end times.” What do Christians really believe about the so-called apocalypse described in Revelation?
30. Do Christians still believe that wives should submit to their husbands? What do they mean by “submit”?
31. Is the Christian God the same God as the God of Islam and Judaism? If not, what’s the difference? If so, why have three separate religions?
32. Why do so many churches not allow women to serve in positions of leadership? Have they not read the scripture in Galatians 3:28 stating that “there is neither male nor female”?
33. Some Christians consider tithing—giving a tithe, or a tenth, of their income—as an obligation. Others have different views about giving. Why the difference of opinion? And does it matter?
34. Why are many Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, so closely related to pagan holidays? Are Christians actually pagans?
35. What does “ordained” mean with respect to ministry? How does someone get ordained, or get the power to ordain someone else? What, if anything, does it have to do with a perceived call from God? Some churches ordain within the church themselves and other have committees and such. Why are they different?
36. What do Christians believe happens after they die, and why? Do they believe they are judged immediately and are ferried off to heaven or hell? What about purgatory?
37. To be a Christian, is it necessary to believe that Jesus really (as in factually) healed the blind, made the lame to walk, rose from the dead, and ascended into somewhere called heaven, where he sits with someone he calls his Father? And, if not, why do Christians recite a creed that says that?
38. Many Christians believe that Halloween (at least in its present form) is Satanic or the Devil’s birthday. Why? Can Christians celebrate Halloween?
39. What’s the deal with contemporary Christian music?
40. Christians talk about doing the will of God and use the Bible as a reason for their actions, but the Bible and tradition list so many things that one could not do all of them at once. Is there an actual Holy Spirit left by Jesus to provide guidance and counsel? If so, how does one “hear” this guidance, and what does it take to have access to it? Can one be led by the Holy Spirit without being a Christian?
41. Why is the church growing in Africa and Asia, but declining in Europe and the U.S.?
42. Some Christian teachings are easy, such as loving one’s neighbor. Others, not so much. For example: the Trinity; what happens at the end of time; and salvation (from what? to what?). Can someone be Christian and not clear about very much?
43. Is faith healing really a part of the Christian faith today? What about speaking in tongues? Why do some do it and not others?
44. Why are there so many symbolic gestures and images throughout some Christian denominations while others claim such acts are akin to idolatry?
45. Why is personal/individual salvation emphasized so much more in modern Christianity than global transformation of the world into the just peace realm of God’s commonwealth? How can one person be saved while others continue to suffer?
46. Why do so many evangelicals seem to feel the term “social justice” is a bad thing? Why is it generally associated with leftist political activism?
47. Many Christians read and study the King James Version of the Bible. Some believe it is the best and most accurate translation there is. Why? Can I read a different translation? What about paraphrases such as The Message?
48. What does it actually mean when Christians say they believe that Jesus is the Son of God? And how, if at all, is this different from when other people are called “children of God”?
49. Do all Christians believe Jesus died for their sins? What exactly does this mean, and where did the belief come from? If some Christians don’t believe this, what do they believe about the crucifixion?
50. Why does it seem that Christianity gives rise to so many cults—such as Jonestown, the Branch Davidian compound, and so on?