By Caleb Keith –
How many times in the last week have you asked a question and somebody said, “Just Google it”? Moreover, how many times have you refrained from asking anybody a question and just automatically deferring to your internet browser for information? I myself am guilty of doing both of these things on a daily basis. The art of investigating questions is being lost, this is especially true for my generation. My peers and I have been raised in an age of quick answers where no discipline, patience, or even retention of information is required. After all, if I forget what I just learned, I can simply Google it again. In my experience the quick answer culture has two major consequences that directly affect how the church interacts with the current generation of young adults. The first being that meaningful or well thought out questions can be very difficult to formulate. The second is a negative view toward questions that do not have direct or simple answers.
Formulating good questions is a skill that many people are told doesn’t exist. Instead teachers and parents tell their kids, “There are no bad questions.” While perhaps no question is utterly worthless, there are certainly questions that are poorly conceived. In the church we should take care to encourage meaningful questioning, especially among our youth. When our children transition from high school to college, peers and professors will ask students difficult questions about their beliefs. If a student has never approached questions concerning authority of scripture, the problem of evil etc… then a well worded, prying, or even attacking question from the outside could have drastic effects on their faith. Parents, pastors, and church workers of any type, should not shy away from difficult questions, but encourage and introduce students to them. With guidance the students can be walked through their question, pointed to scripture, and shown how to work through real and meaningful questions that Google alone can never answer.
The other major challenge presented is the idea that every question has an answer, and that if a question doesn’t have a simple or complete answer the subject matter of the question itself becomes invalid. This one is hard to shake because there are so many questions within Christianity that don’t have complete answers, “How old is the earth? How is Christ both God and Man? How does the Trinity work?” and the list goes on. Yet we can put these questions into perspective, utilizing them and pointing them towards things that are more clear. “How old is the earth?” “I don’t know. Scripture does not make that answer clear, but what I do know is that God lovingly brought all of creation into existence and when humanity brought sin into the world, rather than destroy it, God had a plan to restore His fallen creation.” Humanity’s understanding of the exact moment of creation, the mechanics of the incarnation, or the complete nature of the Trinity, while intriguing, is not necessary for faith. We can be content with Biblically unanswered questions knowing that God has revealed what we need for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).
Google is an awesome tool, but in many ways it has made us lazy. The beauty of mastering a question through research and contemplation has been replaced by a dull white background full of cheap one sentence answers. As Christians we should lovingly combat this in our homes and churches by being places open to questioning and by presenting difficult questions to each other and our children. Questioning not only serves as an educational tool, but as an apologetic one. Questions train people to look for answers and to be content when no clear answer can be found. As Christians we are in a unique place to ask questions and to have answers inspired by God. I am especially thankful for the gift of Christ who answered humanity’s ultimate questions in his death and resurrection.