In dialogue with Christian friends about certain teachings/practices, I’ve been thinking in terms of asking “5 questions down.” That is, keep peeling back layers of the same specific topic rather than flitting on to something else. And the idea is to ask the 5 questions instead of trying to answer/argue back. Here are some samples:
He: I’ve started standing inside a circle when I pray.
You: Oh? Where did you learn about that?
He: In a book called The Circle Maker.
You: Does it say where that circle idea came from?
He: There’s a legend … about someone named Honi.
You: A legend. Hmm, interesting. And what was the original purpose?
He: To make sure prayers are answered.
You: Let’s see, who in the Bible did that?
He: Um …
You: So is the book saying that Elijah, Joshua, and all could’ve gotten better results if they’d stood inside a circle when they prayed?
[That’s 5 questions, but if you could go a bit further:]
You: Actually, isn’t it witches who use magic circles? I’d better look that up. Wanna talk more later?
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She: I’ve been meditating using the “om.”
You: Where did you learn about that?
She: Richard Rohr. I love his books!
You: Does he believe in the Bible, the deity of Jesus, the atonement of Jesus… ?
She: Well, sure. I mean, his book was in the Christian bookstore.
You: Hmm. Then wonder why he’s dabbling in Hinduism—you know, with the “om”?
She: Oh, I’m sure he doesn’t mean it in a Hindu way.
You: I’ve never heard of anything in the Bible where God suggests that his people take something like that and rework it, or “Christianize” it. How do you (or how did Mr. Rohr) do that?*
She: Well, I…
You: How about if we both look up examples of that in the Bible? Want to? And then we can compare notes.
* If your friend mentions Christmas or Easter, you might find help in these posts: “Mingling” or “Christian Whatever?”.
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You: Hey, what’s that little statue you’re holding?
He: I’m gonna bury it upside down in my yard to make sure my prayer is answered.
You: Isn’t that sorcery?
He: No, it’s Catholic. I did it once before and it worked.
You: I’m confused. Does that mean anything that seems to work is OK’ed by God? I mean … well, stealing, lying, the Ouija board … those things “work” sometimes, right?
He: Oh, come on. I’m not breaking any laws or anything weird.
You: Well, this statue procedure seems like trying to go around God, trying to manipulate cosmic forces. If sorcery is OK… um, what else is God wrong about?
He: I just don’t think this is sorcery.
You: It’s possible I’m wrong. It seems important to make sure though. Let’s each go study up. I’d like to know what you find out, OK?
6 thoughts on “Asking Good Questions—Part 3”
Excellent! And so timely. We’ve all been snookered, more in recent months.
Great advice to “Ask 5 questions down.”
Yes, this could be a helpful tool, no matter the topic.
Years ago my Sunday school class did a study from The Circle Maker. At that time I wondered if it was questionable. I even questioned the practice of drawing circles as a “sacred place”. I don’t think I was taken very seriously. Our teacher was great and we didn’t really delve too deeply into that book but rather stuck to Biblical scriptures about prayer and the study was great. But I wish back then I had asked 5 questions down… Thanks for this blog series on asking good questions. Next time, I will.
No one can know everything about everything all the time. Ha! The main thing is sticking close to the Scripture and aiming to follow the Lord . . . which you’re doing!
I am so happy I found your content! I originally found “Mysticism in the church: 10 Things to Watch For. I am absolutely giddy about that find because it perfectly describes my experience with leadership in my church. (12,000 souls at stake)
I believe we have really well intentioned people who are being deceived by a few. I looked at your Facebook page and saw this series, it is exactly what I needed. A respectful well thought out approach that guides people rather than beating them up. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to guide our conversations with multiple leaders within our church. I want our church to remain a beacon of light and it’s lampstand to not be snuffed out! This is spiritual warfare, the battle is the Lords! Blessings!
Wow. This makes my day! (Thank you, Lord!) Thanks for your heart, Linda, to want to do what the Lord wants. And prayers for your efforts in your own local church! Any of the related documents on my “more from lynn” page might be helpful. You can print those and lead a small group to dig in and do their own further research. Or e-mail appropriate link(s) to individuals. Blessings!