Basic Questions for Theology
"Questions are better than answers"
How do we get away from BUFFALO CHIPS.
(Breaking Under Final Frustration
About Losing Our Carelessly Hatched
Institutional Philosophical Systems).
What is the Deal?
1. What is the deal that Jesus is offering to
us? Does it really seem good to us or is it just supposed to seem
good to us? And is it really believable?
2. Is it any good, that is, what we really want? Do we really
know what we want? If the deal is different than what we really want, CAN
we CHANGE what we want? SHOULD we change what we
really want? If so, HOW do we change what we really want? What if we
don't want to change what we want? Did we have anything to DO with
what we really want/need?
3. Is the deal even palatable to anyone? A few? Quite a few? Most?
Everyone? If not, WHY not?
4. What does it cost? Is it free or does it
cost us everything?
1. What are we authorized by Jesus to pray or
2. Are there any conditions? If so, do the conditions apply equally
to each thing authorized? Is there a sequence so that the granting
of one thing leads to greater authorizations?
3. Are the Promises made to individuals or to a plural you? Are
some made to individuals and some to a corporate body? If so, what
are the conditions that apply? Are they different for individuals
and groups? If some are made to a corporate body, how many
individuals are necessary to qualify? Is the number different for
1. Was there a point in time recorded or implied
in the gospels when the disciples were in unity or believed everything
that Jesus said and acted accordingly? Or understood everything he said,
or followed the advice of Jesus?
2. Did all of the disciples understand the full truth that Jesus
presented? Did any? If some, who did and who didn't? Is there any
evidence or basis for discriminating?
3. The disciples ultimately didn't stay together. Was this because
they were "called" to go in different directions and countries? Or was
it because ultimately there was nothing much going on and they
ultimately couldn't get along comfortably?
4. What is the essence of the difference between Christianity and
Gnosticism? Which is more true or spiritual or reasonable? Which is more
5. Which of the disciples became the foundation for Christendom?
Which of the disciples became the foundation for Gnosticism, the other
great movement spawned by the Jesus incident?
6. If Christianity and Gnosticism didn't go off the track with the
disciples, exactly when and where did they go off the track?
1. Did Jesus authorize the writing of the New
Testament? If so, where and when did he authorize it? If not, why has so
much attention been paid to it? Has god put his stamp of approval on it?
If so, what is that stamp of approval? What or where is the foundation
for thinking that God authorized any of the early church apostles to
speak for him or to elucidate the message of Jesus?
2. Has the NT stood the test of time? If so, by what criteria? If so,
what is the evidence? Has anyone seriously tried to live according the
NT? If so, were they successful? Is it possible? Has anyone come up with
the final, correct, true interpretation of the book Revelation? If not,
would you like to try?
1. Did Jesus authorize the writing of the Gospels?
If so, where and when did he do it? Has god put his stamp of approval on
them? If so, what is that stamp of approval?
2 Have the Gospels stood the test of time? If so, what is the evidence?
Has anyone seriously tried to live according the Gospels? If so, were
they successful? Is it possible?
3. Is there any other material or gospel writing outside of the NT that
is of value? If so, How can it be validated?
4. Are the Gospels all of equal validity or reliability? From what
standpoint? Technical or spiritual? If not, which one(s) take
precedence? If not, how can we decide?
5. Does the Gospel of John being an eyewitness while the others are
compilations of second or third hand accounts have any significance? If
not, why not?
6. Why can't the Gospel of Thomas, an eyewitness account, be considered
just as or more authoritative as the other Gospels?
Issues of Consistency
1. Can we treat the bible as an organic whole,
that is, does it have total internal consistency? If so, what does this
consistency look like? Isn't this idea an unwise fabrication?
2. If not total internal biblical consistency, does the New
Testament have total internal consistency? If so, what does this
consistency look like?
3. If not total internal NT consistency, do the gospels have total
internal consistency? If so, what does this consistency look like? If
not, where do we look for consistency?
4. If not total internal gospels consistency, does the book of
John have total internal consistency? If so, what does this consistency
Issues of Accuracy
1. Are there any parables, stories, ideas, issues,
advice, instructions, or facts within the four gospels that are in
seeming conflict? We know there are significant conflicts.
2. How do we deal with these inconsistencies, controversies, and
If we deal with them, how do we resolve these inconsistencies and conflicts?
1. Are revelation and inspiration equivalent? If
so, what do they mean?
2. If they are not equivalent, what is revelation? What is inspiration?
What is the difference? Is either one reliable in and of itself? If not,
are they reliable only when taken together?
Intellectual versus Spiritual
1. Do the words intellectual and spiritual mean
the same thing? If not, do they mean largely the same thing? If not, are
they related to any significant degree? Is one a subset of or dependent
on the other?
2. What does spiritual mean? What does intellectual mean? What is the
Categories of Communication
1. Do the words or messages of Jesus fall into
different categories? If so, does Jesus speak to issues of paradigm?
Does he speak about truths that apply to the paradigm? Does he speak
truths that can only be understood rightly in the proper paradigm?
2. Does Jesus ever just offer good advice? If so, is all the advice
recorded in the gospels applicable to our time? Is any? Is it always
applicable to our situation?
3. Are there levels of importance about various things Jesus said? Did
he say anything that is trivial or not important? Was some of Jesus
advice applicable only to the disciples? Was some of Jesus advice
applicable only to the people of that time? How do we sort this all out?
1. Since Jesus thanked the father for hiding
truths from certain men, why did God hide these truths? Why did Jesus
say that he spoke in parables so that the masses would hear and NOT
understand? Why speak to them at all if he knew they wouldn't
understand? Was he building a case against them, or plowing their
2. Was there a spiritual elite? If so, were the disciples the elite? If
so, was there a spiritual elite within the disciples? If so, who were
these disciples? How can we tell who they were? Should there be a
spiritual elite? If so, is there a purpose to a spiritual elite?
1. Does righteousness mean right behavior? If it
does, right by what standard? If it doesn't mean this, does it have any
real or significant versus imaginary meaning at all?
2. Does righteousness mean reasonable behavior? If not, what is the
difference between right and reasonable behavior?
1. Is behavior any concern at all to the follower
of Jesus? If so, what does proper behavior for a follower look like?
2. Can we get specific about right behavior or can we only generalize?
If specific, is there any specific behavior that is totally proscribed
by Jesus? Is all or any of our behavior demanded? Commanded? Who does
our behavior affect? Us? Others? God? All of the above?
1. Does the creator have a sacred agenda to
impose on us?
2. If so, is this agenda chronological? If so, are we locked into it
regardless of what we do or not do? If not, what can we do about it?
3. If the agenda is not one of time, is it one of phenomena? If so, are
we locked into it, that is, is there anything we can do to affect it? If
so, what can we do about it?
Behavior of Christendom
1. Why is there so much dissension and hypocrisy
in Christian religions when Jesus said the devil was defeated?
2. Why did Christianity stamp out so-called Gnostic sects with the sword when the
virtue, piety and behavior of some of these generally exceeded that of
Words of Jesus
1. Did Jesus ever give good advice that applied
specifically to that time? Did Jesus ever give good advice that applied
specifically to that culture? Did Jesus ever give good advice that
applied specifically to explicit situations? Did he say some things to
the disciples that do not apply to us? Did he say some things to some of
the disciples that did not apply to the other disciples? Do some things
he said apply to different believers depending on their level of belief?
2. Did Jesus emphasize certain things that he said? If so, how has that
come down to us?
1. Does the salvation offered by Jesus mean being
saved from ultimately being lost or punished or destroyed?
Does the salvation offered by Jesus mean being saved from being
temporarily lost or punished or destroyed? Does it mean being
healed and restored spiritually versus tangibly and physically? Does it
mean both? If so, which comes first? Do they happen simultaneously?
3. Is the salvation offered by Jesus complete and IMMINENT?
1. What does it mean to come into unity? How do we
become unified? Are there specific steps? Are they unpleasant or
burdensome? Are they difficult? If difficult, what is the key to making
them easy? If easy, why don't we do it? If we understood the essence,
scope, imminence and immanence of the payoff, would that make it easy?
Would being truly "rooted in self" help make it easy?
2. Is anyone out there in perfect unity? Does
anyone truly want to come into unity? Does anyone truly not want to come
into unity? Does anyone believe it is possible to come into perfect
Free Moral Agency
1. Did God create man to be a free moral agent? If
not, are we any more than sophisticated, programmable robots? If so, does this mean
that man is free to exercise his own judgment and do what he thinks is
good without fear of consequences? If it doesn't mean this, what does it
2. Do we create, enlarge or foster free moral agency for our
family and friends? Are they actually at liberty to exercise their own
judgment and do what they think is good without risking the loss of the
1. Having made Man of course without Man's choice or permission, why would God
subject Man to arbitrary prohibitions which, if ignored, would cost Man
his life at the hand of God? Why would God need to test Man in any way
2. Do we subject members of our family and friends to testing? Is
this a loving or moral thing to do? Do we feel loved if members of our
family or friends subject us to testing? Why should
we test them, and if they fail, cost them our love, support, and
3. How can a God gracious enough to give His own son to mankind have
ever been so ungracious as to forbid Man the fruit from a mere tree? Has
God become more "Christlike" down through the ages?
life ever have been anything but a pure gift
1. Why should God need to be obeyed? Why should
the one who has the power to create the heavens need anyone to do
anything for him? Does God need to rule or govern through law backed up
by punishment and ultimately death?
2. Does Man need to obey a Law? Why should an intelligent creature made
in the likeness of God need to obey anything other than his own native
feelings? Why should he be asked to despise, ignore or violate his
authentic desires in order to comply with rules or requirements he had
no part in forming?
1. Why does Christianity teach that God demands to be "numero uno"
in our lives? Isn't this the essence of being insecure and self-centered?
2. Why would god demand our worship and love? Demanding these of other
humans, is the one most certain thing to kill them in others. Cannot a
relationship thrive through inspiration and love? Cannot a society
function through inspiration and good will?