“There are no dumb questions.” We know that because secular culture has told us so. This affirmation of the secular faith requires that parrot-like we precede our response to every query with, “That’s a good question.” “What name should I give my transgender cat?” “That’s a good question.”
Apparently, no one told Jesus that there were no dumb questions. When Peter asked Him to explain one of His sayings, Jesus responded, “Then are you also without understanding?” (Mark 7:18) Jesus seems to be saying, “Peter, that is a really dumb question.” Mark reports that on another occasion, “(T)hey did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him” Mark 9:32 ESV, suggesting that Jesus did not take kindly to dumb questions or respond with, “That’s a good question.” In fact, no one in all of Scripture ever used that response.
Our culture forbids such honesty, instead mandating affirmation. In fact, when honesty and affirmation conflict, affirmation wins every time.
Our culture bans honesty in the discussion of the most salient issues confronting us, causing untold harm to individuals and our society.
- Recently, a university decided that a study of the wellbeing of transgenders who decided to revert to their original gender should not be permitted because honesty on the topic may not fit the liberal template. Honesty regarding the wellbeing of transgenders in general, the suicide rate, etc., is not allowed in polite company, and certainly barred from any classroom discussion. Such honesty would spare many individuals of untold heartache.
- If Sixty Minutes ran a segment telling the truth regarding the homosexual lifestyle, the number of partners, the diseases, the lifespan, the length of the average “committed relationship,” we might not view this aspect of diversity as a cause for celebration. But doing so would require too much honesty.
- Or imagine if they did a segment on late-term abortion, including sonograms revealing that abortionists are murdering viable babies in cold blood, with all the attendant suffering. What if Sixty Minutes divulged the negative physical and psychological impact of abortion on women? That much truth would comprise just too much information.
- Likewise, if the New York Times, offering all the truth that’s fit to print, would find it fit to be honest about the relationship between gun ownership and safety, this information would put a silencer on the dishonesty of gun control proponents.
So the list could go on ad infinitum and ad nauseam of issues in our society in which honesty is verboten. Think, for example, the almost total ban on honesty on university campuses. In a recent post entitled “The Silencing of the Right and the Christian Solution”, I described the successful attempts of the Left to silence the voice of the Right. A major element of this agenda resides in disallowing the telling of truth on critical issues.
Evangelicals, influenced by secular society, have joined the ban on honesty.
They permit discussion of only the happy aspects of the nature of God and Christ, screening out biblical truths related to holiness and judgment.
They limit the gospel message to “God loves you,” excluding honesty with the lost person regarding the bad news that the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36) It is little wonder that evangelicals are so evangelistically ineffective.
The contemporary evangelical gospel also lacks honesty regarding the conditions related to salvation, conveying that receiving a gift and praying a prayer will secure heaven for the seeker. It excludes honesty regarding the need for repentance and submission to the authority of Christ. This gospel comprised of half-truths is leading many to believe that they are headed for heaven when in fact they are doomed to eternal destruction.
Evangelicals assure the believer that he need not “perform” to please God, an assertion that lacks an honest exposition of many passages of Scripture that say otherwise such as1 Corinthians 10:8-11:
We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (ESV)
How can honesty be resurrected? That happens to be a good question.
First, we must return to Scripture where we can rediscover the nature of biblical culture that requires honesty. There we find Jesus telling a gathering of Jewish people:
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 ESV
If Jesus were speaking in a contemporary mega-church, would He be invited back? That probably is a dumb question.
Paul instructs Timothy:
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith…. Titus 1:12-13 ESV
Apparently, Paul was absent on the day when his college professor covered multiculturalism.
I am in no way suggesting, nor is Scripture, that we should seek out opportunities to be offensive. But neither should we avoid being honest just because the truth is not affirming or politically correct. Only as we develop an evangelical culture that promotes honesty about the nature of God, the gospel, scriptural mandates related to Christian living, and the full range of biblical truths will the church possess the purity and power to be effective as salt and light in our society.