Why doesn’t God answer all our questions?
John R., US, writes:
Why doesn’t God answer people’s extra-biblical questions? The Bible is good for theology (if you are smart enough to understand it), but the Bible won’t help you understand, say, how it is the case that life didn’t evolve.
Why is it that when a child of God has a question that severely jeopardizes one’s faith in God (for an extreme example, “How do I know that Islam is wrong?”, and, for less severity, “Why did my mother die?”), God does not give an answer to them?
Lita Sanders, CMI-US, responds:
What a great question! We would like to know all sorts of things that Scripture doesn’t directly address (although it does address many more by logical deduction from the direct statements). But I think it does give us the principles to build a ‘big picture’ worldview that helps us to think through these questions.
However, I believe there are clear biblical answers to all the examples you stated:
- “The Bible won’t help you understand, say, how it is the case that life didn’t evolve.”
But of course it does! Scripture gives a very clear account of origins that excludes evolution as a possibility. Of course, Genesis is written in historical, not scientific, terms, but that does not mean we can’t draw scientific implications from it to an extent. For instance, it presents a historical timescale that is incompatible with evolution. It also plainly teaches that God created distinct kinds of creatures, not one kind evolving into different kinds; that He made Adam from the dust, not from an ape-like creature; and Eve from his rib; and both of them and their descendants uniquely images of God.
- “How do I know that Islam is wrong?”
Easy. It presents a different version of who God is (i.e. Christians worship a Triune God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Qur’an clearly states Allah has no son), and it presents a different view of salvation. That is also how we know that any other non-Christian religion is wrong, if we accept Scripture as our infallible authority, as all Christians should (largely because Jesus did!).
- “Why did my mother die?”
It’s interesting that you put that as a question with ‘less severity’ than the Islam one, because for most people, it is personal tragedies like this that cause them to question their faith, not questions about the viability of an alternate religion. But of course, the reason anyone dies is laid out in Scripture. We die because our first father, Adam, sinned, and thus brought the death penalty on everyone along with suffering. Everyone deserves to die, because everyone sins. But more importantly, Scripture has an answer for death—the Gospel.
OK, now for some of the bigger things your question touches on:
“The Bible is good for theology, but … ” Of course the Bible tells us about theology; it is a book about God, after all. But it is best described as a book about how God has created and provided for the world—so it is a book of theological history. And once we understand this, it’s not only good for theology, but a whole range of other applications, as well. And while Scripture is deep enough to occupy the most brilliant theologian for a whole lifetime without exhausting what it has to offer, it is also simple enough for a little child to understand it by faith.
Regarding questions Christians have that jeopardize their faith, the number one principle I advise is: Uncertainty about peripheral matters will not shake someone’s faith if they have the Gospel right. If Jesus is who He says He is, and if He takes Scripture as His authority, and if He died and rose from the dead, then frankly, we can take it on authority that we can trust the Bible He authenticated. Of course we will still have questions and there will be room for us to grow in our understanding of Scripture. See also Dealing with doubt and Doubt your doubts!
Having questions can actually be a sign of a healthy, growing faith. But if our faith is grounded correctly, those questions will drive us deeper into God’s Word, and not away from it, because we will be confident that it does have the answers. And of course, all Christians are commanded to be a part of the church (cf. Hebrews 10:25), and one advantage of obedience in this area is that we don’t have to face our questions alone, but we can seek advice from our pastors and other mature Christians.