I brought this question up at another one of those Bible study meetings I mentioned a while back. We were discussing whether it was appropriate for a Christian to question, complain about, or protest the things happening in their lives or the things they were required by circumstance to do. Given that I’ve named this blog “No Forbidden Questions,” it shouldn’t be too hard to guess what my stance on the matter is. And I think it’s quite telling that the Bible itself (like other religious texts) includes instructions not to question things, not to criticize the current pecking order, not to object to your lot in life.
So, we were (read: everybody else was) talking about God’s plan for each of us and how the Good Christian Thing To Do™ was to take your lumps and push on through. I couldn’t contain myself. Finally, I spoke up to ask something along the lines of: “Is there anything that you could see in the world, anything that could happen to you or anyone else … could you imagine anything that might make you think it was okay to question whether God’s plan for the world was a good one? Or whether there was a plan in the first place? Is there anything that could happen that would be acceptable to complain about?”
There was an awkward pause, and then a bit of chaos as several people tried to clarify for me that they weren’t saying that they actually never complained about anything. It’s just what one strives for, in an effort to be a good Christian. Of course, that’s not where my confusion was.
Yes, it’s cliche, but I did it because I wanted them to understand where I was going with this question — I mentioned the Holocaust. Eleven million people killed in concentration camps, just for being the “wrong “kind of people. (And six million of them believed that they were God’s chosen people! Based on a book that Christians also believe is holy and true!) Was that part of God’s perfect plan? Was Adolph Hitler doing the Lord’s work? Were the Christians targeted and killed by the Nazis supposed to take that fate without “murmurings” or “disputes”? Christian Nazi soldiers supposed to obey all orders without criticizing them? Or … was God’s plan a bad one? Was God maybe even not in control?
“The Holocaust, that’s a tricky one,” one of them said. Verbatim quote. Also, the most definitive answer to my question that I received from the group.
Essentially, though, the answer was no. No, there is nothing that they could imagine happening that would make them question their beliefs that God is good and/or that God is in charge. To me, that is the hallmark of a flawed belief system — so divorced from independent thought and consideration of evidence that there is nothing that could come to light that would justify a change of opinion.