By McKenzie Oviatt | Broadcast Reporter
I grew up in a small, conservative environment in southern California. The private Christian school I went to, the church I grew up in and my family all recognized the Bible as a literal, inherent book. This means that they see no flaw in the Bible and take every detail as factual, rather than being open to allegorical interpretations. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college, taking Christian scriptures, that I learned of any other viewpoint.
Initially, my faith was rattled a bit. The voice echoing in my head was my former teachers, pastors and parents saying, “If there is one thing found wrong within the Bible, then the whole book is up for questioning.” But then I thought, maybe it should be questioned.
Their argument doesn’t seem completely crazy to me. I think the people surrounding me wanted to ensure that Christians respect the holiness and divine transcription of the Bible. They also want people to wholly buy into what the Bible is saying. I think they are fearful that if people don’t believe everything in the Bible, then that leads others to pick and choose the parts of the Bible that they find easiest to abide by.
Although I understand they are coming from a place of wanting to protect me, the message I received said, “It is not ok to question the Bible, or God for that matter.”
My freshman year, I struggled with what part of the Bible I could trust and what I couldn’t. I thought the Bible was too complex to be understood by any 18 year old. I thought you needed to be fluent in Hebrew and Aramaic to understand the message completely. Now, while those skills certainly help, I realize that the Bible should be accessible and open to questioning from anyone.
When I brought up my questions about the Bible to my family and previous teachers from my hometown, they grew increasingly worried about me. When I turned to some church leaders in Texas, they were compassionate but confused my questions with a lack of faith. It was difficult for people to understand that my questions don’t affect my belief in God, they affect my understanding of God.
For the past few years I have felt like my questions were wrong to have. I felt like I didn’t understand the Bible because God wasn’t speaking as clearly to me as he is to other people. In retrospect, I realize that this isn’t the case at all. I think a lot more people have questions, but they feel like they can’t openly express them at church.
One of my favorite authors, Austin Fischer, wrote “Faith in the Shadows,” and in that book he wrote, “Doubt makes people abandon faith, but people don’t abandon faith because they have doubts. People abandon faith because they think they’re not allowed to have doubts.”
Some people feel comfortable not knowing every question about the Bible; they can overlook the questions and believe with childlike faith. Their faith isn’t childish, but childlike in that they are fully at peace with the unknown. They aren’t naive, rather they are trusting. And then there are people like me who have to dig deep into every grey area I find. I have to repeatedly test the waters to make sure that whatever I am believing in is worth my loyalty. Today, I still don’t have all the answers but I keep asking the questions more openly than before. I encourage anyone else like me to ask your questions to your Christian community, but also fervently ask God. Bring your questions to the table because He is a God who cares for your questions.