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?
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
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.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
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?