October 27, 2008

Q and A 2.0 Revisited: Introduction

I've recently completed a sermon series on Sunday nights at our church called Question and Answer 2.0. I've been asked to re-hash the topics I covered, along with answering follow-up questions that were text-messaged in, plus answer some of the questions that I couldn't get to. I'll be re-posting the series here, too:

I've had a blast the last three weeks answering your questions, and since I didn't get a chance to answer all of the ones that were submitted, or answer all of the follow-ups, I'm going to take the next few weeks to try and fill in those gaps. I look forward to your comments as we revisit some of the things that were already discussed, and get to some of the ones that I just didn't have the time to answer.

Today, I simply wanted to revisit the parameters that we laid out for answering questions and using the Bible to do so:

Why do we ask questions? To get answers.

We live in a culture that says “question everything”, and it’s a good thing to question and test things that we say we believe in. But, we can’t just be satisfied with being people who question everything. The point of asking questions is to get answers. And, if questions have answers, then we have to ask: how do we know that answer is right and true?

There has to be a standard of truth if we are going to agree on the answer to any given question. Since we are a Christian church, then why not agree that the Bible, God’s Word, is our standard? For this series and for these answers there are two things that we assumed:

#1—The Bible is true
#2—Context is key

When we look at these verses, we have to read them in their context. This context is in light of the whole verse, the whole paragraph, the whole section, and even the whole book and the whole of the Bible. If we don’t pay attention to the context, the culture, the audience…then we can come up with some really nutty interpretations:

An example: Psalm 14:1—“There is no God.” If that's really true, then we should pack it in and go home. But, if you look at the whole verse it makes more sense: Psalm 14:1—“The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” That’s a little different.

An example of knowing the culture: Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”
I know a lot of teenagers who can relate to this verse, and suddenly get very excited about following Jesus. But, this verse takes an understanding of first century Jewish culture and love/hate language. Jesus doesn’t mean hate like we use the word hate. To the culture that Jesus lived in, loving one thing and hating another is to place the priority of love on the most important thing; in other words, hate means to love less.

So where did we get the name for the series, Q and A "2.0"? The idea behind something called "Web 2.0" is that the people at home get to create the conversation that is happening on the web. Sites like blogs, Facebook, Wikipedia, and even our own church website that allow you to leave your comments comprise a two-way conversation between the people who post their pages, and the people who read them. The content is driven not just by one side, but by both sides. You can add your opinions, and see the opinions of literally millions.

The Bible, on the other hand, is 1.0. We don’t get to add our opinions to it. It is a one way conversation between Almighty God and the human race, and we don’t get to throw in our two cents. The Bible is not Wikipedia…it’s not Biblepedia. We don’t get to add to it or take away from it.

One of our core values as a church is Biblical instruction, and my goal from this series was to show what the Bible says about your questions. I’ve tried to be clear about what is fact, and what is opinion…where there are gray areas and where there is black and white truth. Some things are clear…some things we’ll have to wrestle with. But most of all, my prayer has been that you develop a hunger and a passion for God’s Word so that you can know the truth, and the giver of truth, and that it won’t just become knowledge for your head, but that it will become the driving force behind the way that you live life each day.

So, we'll look to the Bible for our answers. Starting tomorrow with a question about how we got the Bible in the first place.

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