The SCOTUS hearings that took place in our nation’s capital earlier this week, coupled with the way other recent news events have been handled, have made the simple matter of asking questions an issue worthy of our attention. Since human history began, questions have been an indispensable tool in the development of interactive communication. And as we’ve seen lately, the process of investigation, discovery, and learning at any level can be severely impaired or dismantled altogether when that basic process is manipulated or completely disallowed. It has also been clearly demonstrated that punctuating a sentence with a question mark doesn’t always indicate that a simple answer is all the interrogator wants to achieve. When the privilege of direct questioning isn’t categorically denied, the questions asked are sometimes designed to be used more as a means of delivering an accusation than obtaining an answer. Again and again, we have watched interviewers twist questions into something more like an “interrogatory indictment”.
A Recognizable Context ~ While the technique isn’t new, it might be helpful to look at it in a way that illustrates it in an easily recognizable context. Picture a mom having instructed her teenager to clean his or her room. Several hours later, she wants to know the outcome, so she asks a question. That’s a perfectly appropriate thing to do, but her inquiry might express more than curiosity if she expressed it like this: “You didn’t clean your room like I told you to, did you?” When asked like that, it becomes a bit more than a simple question. This method of questioning allows both an accusation and presumption of guilt to take the spotlight on center stage before the question ever emerges. If an answer is forthcoming at all in those cases, it’s secondary and often seems only to validate the suggested indictment and affirm the guilt already presumed.
Controlling, manipulating, or denying the simple process of asking questions can severely restrict the accurate and truthful flow of information and render making clearly informed decisions virtually impossible. A major aspect of the free speech we have enjoyed up to now is the unrestricted opportunity to ask questions of those in power. More and more, once trusted sources of information have restricted that privilege and in doing so, have freely transformed themselves into nothing more than propaganda machines. The end result is that those of us who were once free to express ourselves openly are being reduced to the level of pawns in a global game run by wealthy, globalist elites. It’s worse than disheartening to see our values mocked and demeaned, and our freedom to engage in free and open communication being manipulated or denied altogether. In the confrontational atmosphere surrounding us these days, it isn’t surprising that many of Jesus’ followers are feeling too intimidated to speak out and wanting to take what seems to be the safe route of yielding to those who seek to silence our voice.
Simple, but Challenging ~ I’d like to borrow a question that Jesus asked repeatedly and use it as an encouragement not to give up. When challenged by those who wanted to discredit Him by asking questions loaded with trumped up charges of violating God’s law, Jesus prefaced His response with a simple, straightforward question. He asked, Have you never read…? That question offers guidance when an oppositional culture seeks to remove us from participation in the public discourse.
The question Jesus asked placed the issue at hand under the authority of the unshakable Word of God. He established it as the only reliable guide for human behavior and the ultimate arbiter of truth. That enabled Him to torpedo the foundation of His opponents claims and expose their inquisition as disingenuous, hypocritical, and baseless. In these contentious days, it’s vital that we hear Jesus’ question and heed the admonition to focus our attention on what God really said.
Not the Church’s First Rodeo ~ When we review the Scriptural record, we see that the fledgling Church of Jesus Christ ran headlong into fierce opposition early on. The local authorities took its leaders into custody and threatened them with incarceration or worse if they didn’t stop preaching and teaching about Jesus. The Apostles’ response was immediate and unwavering, and it established a precedent for all who would come behind them and who would face similar situations. The brief exchange went like this, and the last sentence says it all:
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:27-29 (NKJV)
If we wonder whether God’s will for us is to roll over and surrender when our freedom to preach His Word and to worship God freely and openly is challenged, the example of those who faced those threats first is pretty clear. We have one final and ultimate authority before whom we will stand and to whom we will be held accountable. Our reaction to those who would silence our voice and shut us out of public discourse must not be determined by our individual comfort level or the status of our social media presence. It comes down to another simple question, What did Jesus send us to do?
Time to Consider Answers ~ And in an attempt to highlight the role of questions, it’s only fitting that we wrap up with a word about answers. In my academic experience, I never had panic attacks over those questions I knew the answer to. It was the ones I hadn’t prepared for that kicked in the fear and started the nervous perspiration. As the likelihood increases that questions and interrogatory indictments will be thrown at us challenging what we believe and attacking the values we live by, God, who never wants us to panic, inspired Peter to share some valuable advice for us.
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; I Peter 3:14-15 (NKJV)
Jesus asked His challengers, Have you never read? If He approaches us with that same question, may we never have to bow our heads in shameful ignorance of vital truth we ought to know well. We should work every day to be ready to give answers that are Scripturally accurate, eternally true, and pragmatically valid when the tough questions come.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly to this article through Twitter.
- “Controlling, manipulating, or denying the simple process of asking questions can severely restrict the accurate and truthful flow of information and render making clearly informed decisions virtually impossible.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “A major aspect of free speech is the unrestricted opportunity to ask questions of those in power. Once free to express ourselves openly, we are being reduced now to the level of pawns in a global game run by wealthy, globalist elites.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The question Jesus asked, “Have you never read?”, placed the issue at hand under the authority of the unshakable Word of God. He established it as the only reliable guide for human behavior and the ultimate arbiter of truth.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “In these contentious days, it’s vital that we hear Jesus’ question, “Have you never read …?” and heed the admonition to focus our attention on what God really said . . . We have one final and ultimate authority before whom we will stand and be accountable.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)