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Why doesn’t God answer all our questions?

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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 Cosner, 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:

  1. “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.
  2. “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!).
  3. “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.

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Readers’ comments
Geoff C. W., Australia, 4 March 2017
The Bible would have to be enormous to specifically cover everything that man thinks up that isn't true.
Steve M., United States, 4 March 2017
The clear answer to why Islam is wrong and what I tell anyone who is trying to promote Islam is that the Quran says Jesus did not die on the cross and did not physically raise from the dead. This is a fact of history confirmed by all those eyewitnesses who wrote Biblical accounts for us. Without the death on the cross and resurrection of Jesus from the dead there is no Christianity. Islam tells a completely false story on this fact of history and is not true.
R. R., United States, 5 March 2017
Thanks for another great article. CMI is doing great, as always. Unfortunately, I think this one missed the point of JR. It answered the specific questions, but as I understood it, he didn't need those questions answered; they were merely illustrative. It seems that the original question could be more properly phrased as: "If I have asked God about X (cannot be directly found in or deduced from the Bible) why would he not answer?". There're lots of big-picture questions that can be answered/deduced, but there're also a lot of others questions that cannot, for which reasonable people might still want/need answers. E.g. a person might ask God "Why did my parents abandon me as a child?" or "Why was I born handicapped?". I don't need answers to these questions; they're simply examples. Responding that we live in a sinful state would be like trying to explain plane crashes by blaming the force of gravity, in a context where no one has really mentioned planes or crashes. Consider Job; AFAIK there's no Biblical evidence that he was ever aware of what we can know by reading it. Even God said that Job was 'perfect & upright' Job 1:1 KJV, so when calamity struck, Job had every reason to ask "Why is this happening?". While God later replied to Job, he didn't really answer his questions. To others, he doesn't even seem to respond. Why? In light of Luke 11:8-12 (yes, about gifts, but more broadly about how God, being good, would do better if we just asked c.f. sinful people), the question of why God would remain silent is good & I wish there would be a better answer instead of walking around the edge to avoid it, IMHO. Not saying God has to answer, but he did make the comparison & it seems JR appears to feel ignored. I think most understand the concept of 'silent treatment', right?
Chandrasekaran M., Australia, 5 March 2017
Yes, indeed! If one has the Gospel right nothing jeopardizes his/her faith. For example, when Job lost his wealth, all his children in a single day and his wife ‘scolding’ him, Job’s faith in God was not shattered. Jobs friends were not much of helpful to him. But when God spoke to Job, God was taking about creation of dinosaur and other animals. When Job realised that if God was in control creation, God was in control of what was happening in his. This brought peace to his soul. I have a firsthand experience. In my case God showed how DNA programs of plants and trees captures C2O from air and H2O from ground to make hydrocarbon chain using photons from the sun. This brought peace to my soul. The faith that God offers is sufficient even for this fallen world.
Joshua T., United Kingdom, 5 March 2017
Lita, I enjoyed reading your response to this question; well said.
Piet A., Netherlands, 5 March 2017
Also read Revelations 22:18 and 19 : "I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book : if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of this book of this prophesy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city.......... Revelations and many other books of the Bible teach us clearly that Jesus is the son of God. This means that it is wrong to think that God after Revelations would send to the world ca 600 years later another book in which He tells us that Jesus is not His son.
A. D., Lebanon, 6 March 2017
I am very sad to know that an EXTREME example could be “How do I know that Islam is wrong?”.I am Arabic christian and it it clear as the sun that Islam is satanic we read the QURAN, TABARI , BOUKHARI , SAHIH MOUSLIM etc... and we are even obliged to take some courses related to islam in order to graduate from college. We have many preachers that are specified in islam and expose there illusion and more there "holy stab" but as we see muslims taking advantages of the language barrier and play on the words and translate things on there own like the known ahmed deedat one of the hypocrite sorry for the term but couldn't find better one who flee from Arabic preachers only to end up confusing foreigners(americans...).The strongest site that expose the truth about Islam is ISLAMEXPLAINED.COM (daring questions) it is sad that 99% of the videos are in Arabic but you could find some articles or maybe some translated vids. and please pray for there original channel [link deleted per feedback rules] who are fighting the good fight every time muslims report there channel and remove it content from youtube, middle east TV... and even the channel itself remove preachers after severe threat.
Gennaro C., Australia, 17 March 2017
As R.R. from United States pointed out JR question remains unanswered. He asked: Why doesn't God answer EXTRA-BIBLICAL questions? If some of the ancient scientists (philosophers et.all) would question God "please God, tell me, is the Earth flat or a ball?" Or, if a modern scientist would ask God if gravity would influence the speed of light, would God feel forced to respond? It seems to me be silly even to think about it. However, I like God's statement in Deuteronomy 29:29 which reads: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children for ever ..."