Nine Responses that DO NOT Help a Skeptic


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

I ask a lot of questions – about my faith, about the world, about politics, about Christianity, about theology, about everything.   I’m rarely satisfied with easy answers, which means I’ve become a bit of a skeptic over the past few years.  I’m less certain about things, less convinced of my previously held assumptions. 

There’s a chance that this has made me a little obnoxious.  Occasionally, my persistent questioning gets too aggressive or perhaps hits too close to home, and a well-meaning friend will try to “fix” me with an abrupt response.

Here’s a list of nine that never work:

  1. “It’s arrogant for you to question God.”  - Most of the time, I’m questioning a certain theology or biblical interpretation, not God Himself. My husband knows me well enough to tell when I’m doing the latter. He’ll call me on it.
  2. “I’m sorry to hear that you do not take the Bible seriously.” - Translation from Christianese: “I’m sorry to hear that you do not agree with my interpretation of the Bible.”
  3. “God’s ways our higher than our ways.” -  Taken from a beautiful passage in Isaiah describing God’s mercy and love, this verse is commonly inserted into the conversation when someone really wants me to shut up. Translation from Christianese: “Stop asking hard questions.”
  4. “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” – Then I guess we can’t really talk about it.
  5. “You should  examine your heart about this issue.” – Translation from Christianese: “You should change your mind and agree with me.”
  6. “Why can’t you just get over it?” - I got this response the other day when I said that I had a hard time accepting the idea that all non-Christians will suffer eternally in hell when most never even had the chance to be saved.  I’m not sure how I’m supposed to just “get over” that.
  7. “You need to have a more childlike faith.” – But even kids ask a lot of questions... don’t they? don’t they?
  8. “That’s a stupid question,” or “the answer is so obvious.” - This may be true, but it makes me feel like a real loser for asking.
  9. “Well, Rush says...”

These responses don’t help because they send the message that God is too small to handle big questions.  For the questioner, this only heightens skepticism and fear. I wish more people understood that I’m not really searching for air-tight, black-and-white answers to all my questions about God. I’m just searching for a safe place in which to ask them.

So, can you name a tenth?

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