the weblog of Alan Knox

It is dangerous to ask Why?

Posted by on Feb 5, 2010 in definition, discipleship | 7 comments

As most of my regular readers know, I like to ask questions. Sometimes, the questions that we ask are more important than the answers that we come to. Two and a half years ago, I wrote a post called “It is dangerous to ask ‘Why?’” I like to ask, “Why?” Here are some of the questions that I asked then:

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It is dangerous to ask “Why?”

It is interesting, and sometimes dangerous, to ask why believers traditionally do certain things:

Why do we say that the church is people and people are important, but spend so much money on buildings?

Why is the place where the church meets called a “sanctuary”, “house of God”, or “church”?

When believers meet together, why is it called a “worship service”?

Why is a piece of bread and a thimble of juice and fifteen minutes at the end of a “service” called “the Lord’s Supper”?

Why do men wear suits and women wear dresses when believers meet together on Sunday mornings with other believers?

Why do believers typically bow their heads and close their eyes when they pray?

Why do we use a phrase like “pastoral authority”?

Why do we put all of our “offering” in a joint account, then decide later what to do with it?

Why is the “preacher” or “pastor” allowed to speak when the church meets but no one else is allowed?

Why are some people called “Reverend”?

Why do we need a special “family life center” for sports activities when there are perfectly good community centers?

Why do we call each other “brother” and “sister” when we barely know one another?

Why do we spend one minute shaking hands and call it “fellowship”?

Why do we spend so much time arguing about things that are not in Scripture when we are not obeying what is in Scripture?

Why do we think that God speaks clearest through a sermon?

When we meet with other believers, why do we spend most of our time looking at one person and the back of everyone else’s heads?

Why are only certain believers called “ministers”?

Why do we emphasize, teach, and demand obedience to these things (and others) which are not found in Scripture – and some are even contrary to Scripture – while we de-emphasize, ignore, or explain away other things such as discipleship, fellowship, community, or the “one anothers” which are emphasized in Scripture?


7 Comments

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  1. 2-5-2010

    I began asking those questions a couple of years ago. I still haven’t come up with any good answers, from myself or others.

  2. 2-5-2010

    Since you did not number the “why’s,” I’m assuming the summary why paragraph at the end is the question.

    1. Traditions trump scripture

    While we denounce catholicism for making tradition equal with scripture, and emphasize this point in nearly every set of church by-laws and doctrinal statements (ie, the bible is our sole source of authority for faith and practice), we more than share their view. We, in fact, elevate our traditions above scripture. “This is our distinctive…” and “This is how we have always done it…”

    Nearly 30 years ago I was appalled when I first heard this justification when I realized some of the “why’s” you listed.

    2. Principle vs practice; function vs form.

    Most Christians are not able to distinguish between timeless principles and the adaptable practices that ensue from them in a given time and place (same inability regarding timeless functions vs the myriad of flexible forms they take in a given culture, & place, time).

    Misunderstanding traditions, which are most often simply practices and forms onc emeant to give life to principles and functions in another time and culture

    3. Comfort trumps discomfort

    Even when leaders and Christians come to realize some of the why’s you list as being wrong, and realize what the scriptures actually direct us to do/be, doing so would be very costly. We are comfortable in familiar patterns. We may have much invested – power, position, authority – based the faulty practices and forms, and are not willing to lose them.

    I think one of the main needs in our day is similar to the advice Paul gave Timothy:

    “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” I Tim 4:6,7

    “You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion.” -The Message

  3. 2-5-2010

    I can testify that there is a life with God and others where all these why’s are not asked because they are non-existent…and it is very good. No going back for me. Thank you King Jesus for setting me free!

  4. 2-5-2010

    Hi Darrell,

    I can rejoice with the fish that escapes the net as it swims away in freedom. I can also understand the fish that, once freed itself, turns to see all the others still caught in the net, and returns to try to help release them.

  5. 2-5-2010

    Fred,

    Thanks for the comment and the links! I’ve heard many answers, but most of them are not “good answers.”

    Art,

    Very thoughtful response. Thank you. Your #3 goes along with something that I wrote for Tuesday, so I copied you in that post.

    Darrell,

    I can understand your excitement! :)

    -Alan

  6. 2-5-2010

    Here I thought you were going to go into the reasons a ” why” question should never be asked. I absolutely refuse to ask any “why” questions in relation to Bible Study because all I ever get are opinions. I can never base my life on people’s opinions. Therefore, I always ask questions beginning with the word “what” because it always makes one find specifics and facts. Those are the thing I can base my life and practice on.
    Since all of your questions can be answered by opinions, are there any real reasons?
    Clarence

  7. 2-6-2010

    I hope this is okay, I decided to copy and paste a few of my favorites and fill in my opinion…sorry Clarence. :-) These are based on personal experiences, I’m sure some will be tongue in cheek…

    Why do we say that the church is people and people are important, but spend so much money on buildings? Because the building lets people know a church meets here…that’s often the only evidence to the community.

    Why is the place where the church meets called a “sanctuary”, “house of God”, or “church”? It makes the building seem VERY necessary.

    Why is a piece of bread and a thimble of juice and fifteen minutes at the end of a “service” called “the Lord’s Supper”? Because otherwise it might cut into the preaching time…we gotta be out by 12!!!

    Why do men wear suits and women wear dresses when believers meet together on Sunday mornings with other believers? Because we’re supposed to present God with our best…where did that come from anyway???

    Why do we use a phrase like “pastoral authority”? To strong arm people that ask these questions into stopping with all the boat rocking…

    Why do we put all of our “offering” in a joint account, then decide later what to do with it? Gotta make sure the building and the salaries get covered.

    Why is the “preacher” or “pastor” allowed to speak when the church meets but no one else is allowed? Because they need to earn that salary…not sure why that’s the case where the pastor is unpaid…

    Why do we need a special “family life center” for sports activities when there are perfectly good community centers? It’s a benefit to joining our club, plus we need to keep the sanctuary clean as that is where the worship and the preaching take place.

    Why do we call each other “brother” and “sister” when we barely know one another? Tradition.

    Why do we spend one minute shaking hands and call it “fellowship”? My least favorite time at church…

    Why are only certain believers called “ministers”? If everyone is a minister then who do we pay to be here???

    This was fun, good post Alan…I know this is a serious discussion, but if I don’t laugh about some of these things it’s just too sad. Church is broken…

    Brandon

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