Asking Good Questions

Asking Good Questions

I hope Rebekah got an “A” on her paper. She is a student at a Christian college, taking a course on Christ-and-culture topics, and she wrote her paper on my views. In addition to reading a few of my books and entries on this blog, she wrote to ask me some questions. When I answered, I also told her I would love to read her paper when it was finished. She sent it to me with this comment: “I found much of what you said insightful, though there were points in which I disagreed with you.”

I found her disagreements encouraging, for two reasons. One is that, in expressing her basic concern about my overall approach on Christ-and-culture topics, she is getting at something very important. Rebekah worries that I sometimes seem to be doing “a balancing act” in dealing with views with which I disagree, and that there is a danger that I can encourage “relativism.” She has that right. I do walk a tightrope often, and doing so for a Christian is a very dangerous business. After I read her paper, I wrote to tell her that I also consider it dangerous not to walk the tightrope. Too many Christians simply slip into relativism, while others condemn views they have not really worked at understanding–and in that failure we might be missing out on some things that God wants us to take seriously. But for all of that, the balancing act is no easy thing, and it poses some real threats.

The other point of encouragement for me is what Rebekah’s paper demonstrates about the importance of Christian liberal arts education. I have visited many evangelical college campuses, and I am consistently impressed with the quality of the education taking place there. Under the tutelage of very fine faculty members, gifted students are struggling with the big questions in extremely creative ways. Anyone who worries about the direction evangelicalism is taking in “the culture wars” should spend a few days on an evangelical campus. The students that I see in those settings are getting ready to present a very different image of evangelicalism to the larger world. They are bright, they are asking wonderful questions, they are well-informed about what is going on in the world–and best of all, they care deeply about being faithful to the gospel. They even worry that folks like me can be a little too wishy-washy at times. I am glad that they worry about that. I hope Rebekah received an “A” for expressing her misgivings about my views!


  1. What makes me glad about the balancing act is that we have a faith that forces us to continually think about what we are doing, to never be able to say, ‘The way I think right now is good enough.’ It forces responsibility on each one of us, and also a deep humility.
    Thank you for your post!

    Comment by Ingrid — April 17, 2007 @ 11:19 am

  2. As always I appreciate your candor. Walking a tightrope in the culture wars is exactly how I feel. One segment of Christianity seems to be the judge of all others. Sometimes I think they teach the bible like its an old encyclopedia. They have all the right information but not the intension of the Author. They are the ones who insist the bible be taught verse by verse even though Jesus never taught that way. I do believe it should be taught that way but not exclusively.

    Then there are those who are faithful to the Word and perhaps they go overboard implementing cultural understanding. I fall more on this side because I spend most of my time with unbelievers, in their world. I can see the power of God at work and I believe Bible teachers need to spend time outside the church to know what we are facing as we, “Go and make disciples.”

    Those who are re-inventing and deconstructing the Word of God scare me.

    Thanks for writing!!

    Comment by Linda — April 18, 2007 @ 4:27 pm