Question Everything

11 Thessalonians 5:21
“but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

This is the 11th week of Seminary. The academic challenge I am getting here is very restorative to my faith. There are two classes in particular that are changing the way I view life: Introduction to Theological Research and Hermeneutics (interpretation of the Bible). These are the two first classes for any seminary student.

Through these classes I am becoming aware of the pre-understandings and value assumptions present in me. Life is not black and white; it is a million shades of gray. For example, let’s take the issue of Gun Control. There is a conflict between the values of public safety versus freedom of choice. Both these ideas are good. It is good to be safe, but it is also good to be able to exercise your freedom. In the US obviously individual freedom is valued higher and hence its is relatively easy to get a gun. To make any decision you are comparing two or more values. It is important to be aware of those values and make sure that they are based on a trustworthy foundation.

Even in the Apologetics class I am taking I see the difficulty of simply conversing with those who have a different worldview because their idea of truth is different from mine. My professor defined worldview as the thing that affects every decision, thought, action, feeling, etc. all the while being completely undetected by us. Basically it is the lens through which we view the world; without it we simply cannot see. (*Note: one can call himself a Christian but that does not guarantee a correct worldview. Those who call themselves Christian can have a wrong view of God and scripture, i.e. Matthew 7:21)

Those with different worldviews are speaking different languages. For example, when a Christian and Muslim talk in English they can be understanding each other on a surface level but not on a deeper level. In Islam there is no questioning the Quran. Islam is about submission and obedience. Muslims are not allowed to question any grammatical mistakes in the Quran. Christians, however, can question, scrutinize and criticize the Bible and we must. We must question the basis of our faith, the scriptures. If you have the chance to learn Hebrew and Greek then please take it. (If you are only reading one translation of the Bible right now you really must invest into another translation. At least, have one formal and on functional translation of the Bible. The NIV is a functional translation.) Even the definite or indefinite article in “an angel” or “the angel” can have huge theological implications.

As Christians we understand that the motive of our faith is God. Our motive of faith is: 1) What God affirms is true. 2) God affirms the teachings of Scripture. 3) Therefore, the teachings of Scripture are true. The motives of credibility, however, are all the items of evidence that lead someone to believe that Scripture is God’s word, i.e., archaeological evidence, testimony of historians, instances of fulfilled prophecy, a sense of Scripture’s majesty and an acquaintance with Scripture’s power to transform lives (House 2011, 83). The motives of credibility change with time and more research. “They [motives of credibility] give rise to only to a human and fallible faith. One needs this human and fallible faith nevertheless to obtain the motive of faith, from which divine and infallible faith springs (House, 83).” We must go upstream and check our sources and question our Pastors. St. Paul praised the noble Bereans in Acts 17:11 because they examined scripture to make sure what Paul was saying was true. We also need to practice examining the scripture.

Ravi Zacharias has written about the Quran. He wrote, “Let us consider just one troublesome aspect, the grammatical flaws that have been demonstrated [in the Quran]. Ali Dashti, an Iranian author and a committed Muslim, commented that the errors in the Quran were so many that the grammatical rules had to be altered in order to fit the claim that the Quran was flawless. He gives numerous examples of these in his book, Twenty-three Years: The Life of the Prophet Mohammed. (The only precaution he took before publishing this book was to direct that it be published posthumously) (Rhodes 1995, 83).”

Ali Dashti wrote, “The Quran contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concord of gender and number; illogical and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referant; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Quran’s eloquence. . . To sum up, more than 100 Quranic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted (Rhodes, 83).

I am not saying don’t read the Quran. By all means read it (Christians should be educated about all religions.) I am saying don’t read it without questioning it. Don’t read the Bible without questioning it either.

The Bible has many different translations. Some gospels have different accounts and leave certain details out or add details. Sometimes the number of characters in the story is different. (These are all normal things. When there are eye witnesses questioned about an event; they remember different things.) But the authors left clues and places to go to to get more information. In Christianity, one can voice their doubts without the fear of being persecuted, hopefully.

While studying I have realized how little I know and how little anybody really knows. Even Biblical scholars are not completely sure of everything they write. But we always function on partial information. It is how we survive. The important thing is to keep asking questions, keep searching and examining. 1 Corinthians 13:12. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Do you question everything? Are there any questions that have been on your mind lately?

House, H. Wayne, and Dennis W. Jowers.Reasons for Our Hope. Nashville: B & H Pub. Group, 2011.

Rhodes, Ron. Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Muslims. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 2002.


  1. Thanks MJ for your article. I can see your heart and desire to know the truth reflected in your writing. I agree that we need to question everything, even our own feelings. Sometimes we are having a bad day or just need a break. But sometimes they are symptoms of something deeper and when we question them, we can approach the root of the problem, bring it to God and find joy and restoration. I’ll be cheering you on from far away!

  2. Good thoughts MJ, and glad to hear you are enjoying seminary. The thought that comes to mind after reading your article is the need for seeking love and communicating by love. It is good that we are all free to develop our own worldviews and yet as you point out, it is our worldviews that can cause so many disconnects and misunderstandings. I think that points to the necessity of putting our worldviews aside and interacting in love.

    • Brian, I agree that ultimately whatever we do, through verbal communication or action, should be motivated by love. But one thing I’ve come to grips with lately is that our individual worldviews are so deeply entrenched that perhaps it’s implausible to ask one to set their particular view aside. Also, if we attempt to put our worldviews aside in the name of love, then aren’t we in a sense still imposing some kind of worldview (I suppose the view that we should all love one another regardless of our predispositions)?

      Maybe instead what we can do is be honest about our worldviews through self examination as well as submit these views to others in a small, intimate setting. Perhaps what’s most loving is to reflectively listen to one another, maybe even seeing how our worldviews can actually complement one another. This creates a multifaceted community in which a good kind of tension, the kind which stretches us within and beyond the boundaries of our worldviews, creates a more thoughtful and deep communion with one another. This is the picture I see in Ephesians, at least. Also, it’s what I experience when I engage in thoughtful dialogue with my wife or friends. At the end of the day, we may not come to a consensus on a particular issue, but if each party is heard and understood then there is a sense that each person has striven to love the other.

    • David, I tend to agree with what you are expressing. When I say put our worldviews aside, I don’t mean that we would (or even could) drop our worldview entirely. That’s simply not possible. We always bring our preconceived ideas to the table. We always bring our ideas to the bible, so we must be continually checked by the reality around us.

      What happens in authentic relationships is that we express and examine our worldview through the interactions that arise, and learn and understand better other people’s worldviews. Respecting other people’s perspectives is difficult but doable. Imposing “one true worldview” on others is devastating to the human psyche, even though such a one worldview may be comforting for a while.

      “Maybe instead what we can do is be honest about our worldviews through self examination as well as submit these views to others in a small, intimate setting.”

      Agreed, on a personal level for sure. Yet in today’s world, we cannot escape or avoid the world-wide setting. Any community that puts forth a collective worldview surely cannot escape the light of public scrutiny any longer. Social media won’t allow it. People are now freely able to access a multitude of perspectives, at least in countries that do not restrict the communication tools that are now available.

  3. forestsfailyou

    I have a friend who is an athiest and he can never understand why Christians who claim to put their faith in the bible will not learn the language to see what it actually said. Here is this book that people claim is the inspired truth of God, and they will not read it as it was written. I can recall my Latin teacher saying he had a student ask him to advise him on his dissertation. The professor asked what his topic would be and the student said he wanted to write on Byzantine. The professor then asked the student “Do you know Russian?” When the student said no, he said “Learn Russian and then come back. You cannot cite a translation.” As Christians we have faith that God preserves his message through translations, but I find a lot of truth in both the professors statement and my friends statement.

    • Why did he need to know Russian to write about Byzantine?

    • forestsfailyou

      From what I remember the Russian area was a major trading partner of Byzantine, a lot of what we have in primary sources that are not produced by Byzantine (and therefore a little biased in their favor) come from Russia. The point is that you must know the language of the primary source.

  4. Thanks for this post, MJ. As I’m currently undergoing a major retooling of my thought process in approaching and teaching scripture, I wanted to comment on one of your points. You said that an infallible, trustworthy God affirms the teaching of Scripture, therefore said teachings are by default trustworthy. While I agree with this in principle, I’m asking myself if I truly understand what Scripture is teaching. I read an article today that highlights this issue:

    Many Christians are taught to read the Adam and Eve story something like this: Adam and Eve are fresh-off-the-assembly line, shiny, new, perfect, first human beings — sort of super humans. God tested these flawless creatures with this command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, just to see if they meant business and would obey him. But they failed the test, rebelled against God, and lost not only their own perfection but also that of every other human being born since.

    Whatever else one might say about Genesis 2-3 (the text actually goes from 2:4-4:26 and includes Cain’s story) and the account of Adam and Eve and the “fall,” it should be noted that, in its final form, this is a wisdom story. It is the first in a series of narratives that encourage the post-exilic community to reflect upon their history by showing them, in nascent form, the folly of their own ways which had led them into exile in Babylon. –

    • I never thought about Genesis 2-4 being a wisdom story. My professor says that most Christians read the Bible as they read epistles, short, to the point with practical application, but there are so many different genres: narratives, poetry, prophecy, etc. and they are all read in different ways and with different purposes. Actually, my reading for Hermeneutics this week is about the “wisdom genre.” After reading maybe I can write up something about reading scriptures that fall under that genre.

    • That sounds great, MJ. I’d be really interested to read what you’ve written in that regard.

      If you’re interested, here are parts 2, 3 and 4 of the series:

  5. Just a comment on something that mildly disturbs me about the quote in the picture for this article: Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.

    That last part “answer nothing” really doesn’t sit well with me. We can find some answers, can we not? I am open to learn anything, but I will stand for something. I will adjust my worldview, but I will have a worldview. I refuse to be the spineless jellyfish I once was :)

    I think we should avoid emphasizing 1 Corinthians 13:12 too much. We see dimly but that can become an excuse to remain blind. Jesus came to open our eyes. We can have “eyes to see and ears to hear”. Always learn, yes. Question everything, ok. But find some answers and adjust as you mature.

    • forestsfailyou

      I think he was giving legal advice to someone. Maybe not the best advice. But it’s the source of the popular phrase.

  6. In my Apologetics and World Religions class we are reading about Hans Kung. Kung believes, “Christians should make a distinction between ‘domestic policy’ in addressing internal issues in theology and ‘foreign policy’ in regard to judgement about other religions. Kung holds respect for those of other faiths but does not hesitate to raise critical questions about specific issues in these faiths. He has also passionately urged world leaders to realize that peace on Earth will come only if peace exists among the religions of the world. Kung is not advocating utopia on Earth since he is realistic about human folly, but he asjs for followers of all faiths to follow the core human and ethical values common to all religions (Beverly, Nelson’s Illustrated Guide to Religions, 4.)”

    There is a degree to which we respect different worldviews, but certain worldviews are harmful. For example, the worldview of the USSR. In 1932-1933, about 10 million Ukrainians were starved to death. Not many people even know about that today. In the USSR worldview, the ends justify the means. The end was Ukrainian submission to the USSR and so they did whatever it took to get that.
    In the USSR worldview, truth is what ever the media decides it to be.
    Not many people even know that Holodomor happened. Can you imagine the angst it must bring? Imagine if 10 million Americans died and textbooks didn’t even mention it.

    Hans Kung’s argument in his book, “Global Responsibility” is the need to embrace a global ethics system. There is a degree to which we respect other worldviews, but there also must be objective standards to compare worldviews to. Read more here:

  7. In the USSR worldview, the ends justify the means. The end was Ukrainian submission to the USSR and so they did whatever it took to get that. – See more at:

    Many people died during Holodomor, not only Ukrainians. I have never heard that Holodomor is a secret and is not taught about in every school in Russia. Ukraine had been a part of Russia and was a part of USSR. What do you mean by “submission”? Ukraine was the richest part of the country and they took bread from the Ukrainian lands to provide for the rest of the regions. Even now do only Ukrainians live in Ukraine? (By the way, I find this channel to be trustworthy to know about Ukraine news these days (the author is a Ukrainian, a former journalist from Kiev). It is in Russian.) We have so many people escaping to Russia from the East of Ukraine and even from the West of Ukraine. Is what the Ukrainian media says about the “terrorists” in the East the truth? Maybe your source about the “submission” is of the same kind as about the “terrorists” and about the Russian army in Ukraine and about many Chechen soldiers there? Is there any news about how Russian churches pray and support suffering people in Ukraine now? Is there any news about how many people are forced to move to Russia after their relatives were killed by Ukrainian artillery, and they move even to our region of the Urals and even to the Far East? Have you heard a Ukrainian baptist pastor saying that he believes that Russia is the only hope to stop the satanic work of the US in Ukraine and in the world? I heard that, personally! I don’t trust any Russian or Ukrainian media, but to read about the “submission” from you shows that the propaganda in Ukraine (and in the US)since 1991 has worked well.

  8. “Question everything!”

    • Denial of the Holodomor.

      Anyway I recommend we should not continue to discuss anything related to Russia or Ukraine here, or I will predict this will escalate very quickly and we will become enemies. Russia intensified its information warfare this year and since then it has become impossible to discuss with Russians (and some Russian speaking Ukrainians who watch Russian TV). And this only confirms what MJ Peace said.

    • The end was Ukrainian submission to the USSR and so they did whatever it took to get that. – See more at:

      Chris, is this a true historical statement? Did USSR need to submit any part of its own country? Did they do it through Holodomor?

      Anyway I recommend we should not continue to discuss anything related to Russia or Ukraine here – See more at:

      I agree with the recommendation though. Let’s stop here.(Though I found that “it has become impossible to discuss with” Ukrainians and those who watch Ukrainian TV, even Christians :(