Leonard: Go ahead, ask me the hard questions about the Christian faith (column)
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and my family went to church most Sundays. If it weren’t for the doughnuts and a few cute girls, I probably would’ve protested.
When I left home for college at 18, I went to Baylor, a small university with ties to the Baptist Church, and was once again somewhat surrounded by people who believed what I believed about the Christian faith. It wasn’t until a few years later that I found myself out of the Bible belt and the proverbial “fish out of water.”
When I would meet someone new and we exchanged the “What do you do?” question, the conversation would often get weird because I would say, “I’m a pastor.” One of three things would happen:
1. I’d get a blank stare as the person would rewind our conversation to see how many times they had just cussed or realize that they had just told me a really inappropriate story … this always cracks me up. Sometimes an apology would quickly follow, to which I’d laugh and say, “No worries.”
2. The person would find a way out of the conversation quickly, usually making eye contact with someone else and then saying, “Great to meet you” as they walked away.
3. Or, lastly, they’d be really intrigued and start asking questions and telling me stories about their faith background and how they used to go to Church but got burned out, felt judged or guilty or are simply too busy.
I love it when Scenario 3 happens. I’m an extrovert, have never met a stranger and truly enjoy talking about my faith. But then it started happening: I started getting asked questions to which I had no good answers. And that was troubling to me, to say the least.
I got questions like, “The Bible is thousands of years old and has been copied so many times. How can you trust what it says?” “How can you believe Jesus is the only way to God? That is so narrow minded.” “If Christianity is true, why are there so many hypocrites?”
Gulp. “Uh, um, well …”
These were questions that people in my Bible-believing bubble didn’t usually ask. And there I was, the guy who went to seminary, with no good answers. And so I quickly began to call my friends, the ones who were much smarter than me, to see if they had answers. And thank God (literally), they did.
You see, I never had to defend my faith growing up. I didn’t even know that I should be able to. This began a new chapter in my faith, and little did I know, I was about to get more grounded in what I believed after reading a few books and watching a few documentaries. I got answers to the questions that had stumped me earlier and did my best to find the people who had asked them.
They were equally intrigued, kept asking all of their questions and unashamedly let me know what they had a hard time with concerning the Christian faith.
So mark your calendars. I’m going to start answering the hard questions about the Christian faith on the last Sunday of each month. If you have a question (or comment), I’d love to hear from you. Shoot an email my way, and we’ll be off to the races. The fun will begin on Sunday, Dec. 29.
Scott Leonard is the area director for Search Vail Valley. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.