Questions I Challenge Christians to Pray About

Questions I Challenge Christians to Pray About, Ask themselves, & Research (using different sources --- including Orthodox, Catholic and purely secular scholarly ones). Please, consider this exercise. Write out your answers as you go along to look at them at the end. All I ask is that you are honest, open-minded, and prayerful:

Where did the Bible come from? When was it codified? What books were first listed as belonging in the Christian canon? How has the canon changed over time in various groups? What books were included in the first edition of the King James Bible? When did the Council of Jamnia take place, who were its members, and what did it do?

Before the Books of the Bible were canonized, how was the Gospel spread? Before the printing press was invented some one-thousand and five hundred years after Christ, how was the Gospel spread? How do the answers to these questions apply to the concept of "sola scriptura," or the "Bible alone" as the rule of faith? What does 2 Peter 3:16 warn against? 2 Peter 1:20-21 says Scripture is of ___ ____________ _____________? What does the word "profitable" mean? In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, what does the word "profitable" mean? Does "profitable" mean "is sufficient for" in any dictionary? Was there a New Testament canon at the time Paul wrote that verse? If not, then what Scripture was he referring to?

What do 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 11:2 say about Tradition? When did this Tradition stop being in effect? What did Jesus mean when He told his followers to heed those who sat on the Chair of Moses in Matthew 23:2? What does that say about Jesus' expectations for his followers to obey earthly authority?

What does 1 Timothy 3:15 indicate is the rule of faith? What do you believe is the rule of faith, and why?

The man to whom Jesus is speaking in Matthew 16:18-19: what was his name before those verses? What was his name after those verses? What does that name mean? What language did Jesus speak? What is the name given to this man in Jesus' original language? What does that word mean? What other people in the Bible were given name changes? What did name changes signify in Hebrew life? What metaphoric object does Jesus give the man in Matthew 16:18-19? What does this symbolize? What did they symbolize in Isaiah 22? What are "binding and loosing"?

If Christ is a High Priest, and we are members of His royal priesthood, what are the offerings of each? If Christ is a High Priest forever, can his offerings have stopped? Did the fact that the Israelites were members of the royal priesthood negate the ordained Levite priesthood? Did the New Testament Church have bishops, elders (presbyteros, priests), and deacons or was it non-hierarchical? What is the rebellion of Korah mentioned in Jude 1:11? (hint: see Numbers 16:3) What does it mean that Jesus is a "High Priest after the order of Melchizedek"? In John 6:52-58, what is the meaning of the word "is"? In I Corinthians 11:23-30, why does Paul say some people become sick -- and what does that indicate to you? Since Messiah has come, where today are the incense and "pure offering" offered up as predicted in Malachi 1:10-11? What is the root word of the word "priest"? What is the root word of the word "presbyter"?

How does Paul refer to himself in 1 Corinthians 4:14-15? In what way do the Apostles treat new Christians according to 1 Thessalonians 2:11? How does Paul refer to Isaac in Romans 9:10? How does John address his audience in 1 John 2:13?

What does I Peter 3:18-21 say baptism does? Whom does Acts 2:38-39 say that baptism is for? Whom does it indicate the promise of baptism is for? What does Colossians 2:11-12 compare baptism with? When were people circumcized to enter into the Old Covenant (i.e., at what age)? Did or did not Paul baptize entire households? In John 3:1-7, it says we are to be baptized in the Spirit and _______? In Whose name are we to be baptized according to Matthew 28:19? Do you believe something different about Baptism than what these verses teach? If so, why? How did the earliest Christians baptize according to the non-canonical writings of the earliest Christians (e.g., the Didache)?

According to Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:5-6, what did Peter, Paul and John do in addition to baptizing? Do you believe that what they did is unimportant? If so, why?

What do Proverbs 28:13 and 1 John 1:9 say we should do with our sins? What authority was given to the twelve who were with Jesus in the Upper Room in John 20:21-23? What power was given speficially to Simon Peter in Matthew 16:19? What sort of ministry is described in 2 Corinthians 5:18? Do you believe something different than what these verses teach? If so, why?

How does James 5:14 describe how the elders (presbyters, priests) dealt with the sick? What did they use to help the sick? Does the faith community you're involved with do this? If not, why not?

What does Matthew 19:6 say about marriages that are put together by God? Does your faith community teach something different? If so, why?

Mark 12:26-27 says that God is the God of what three people? What does it say about these three people (i.e., what condition are they in)? Is God the God of Abraham? Is God the God of the dead? How can he be both the God of Abraham but not the God of the dead but the living? What does Revelation 6:9-10 say about what the "souls of them that were slain" are doing? Where are those souls? What does Hebrews 12:1 say we are surrounded by? Who are they? What does this say about those who die in Christ? Does your faith community teach something different? If so, why?

What woman in Scripture gave birth to the man who was to rule all nations? Where does Revelation 12 say this woman is? What does the word "magnify" mean? In Luke 1:46-49, what does "magnify" mean? Who is the "Queen in Gold" of Psalm 45:10-17? In what ways does this Psalm make Luke 1:48 clear?

If Christ is the New Adam Christ (Romans 5:14-15, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 1 Corinthians 15:45), who is the New Eve? Who are the only two people in the Old Testament to have been without original sin from their first moments?

What three things did the Ark of the Covenant have within it (hint: see Hebrews 9:4)? What did Mary carry within her and in what ways are the contents of the Ark similar? Compare Luke 1:39-56 and 2 Samuel 6:2-16: in what ways are the Ark of the Covenant and Mary similar?

What is the Jewish "Mourner's Kaddish" (or "Quaddish") and why is it prayed? What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 3:13-15? What does Revelation 21:27 say about the unclean? If you were to die right now, today, would you be clean enough to stand before Almighty God? For whom was Paul praying in 2 Timothy 1:16-18 and what was his condition at that time?

What does James 2:24 say about how we are justified? What kind of faith is mentioned in Galatians 5:6? Whom does Jesus say will enter the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 7:21? What does Ephesians 2:8-9 say about the possibility of saving ourselves through works? What does that verse say we are saved by? Does your faith community teach either salvation by faith alone or by works alone? If so, why?

What does Hebrews 3:12-14 indicate about the possibility of departing from God? Under what conditions does it say we can be "partakers of Christ"? In what way does Philippians 2:12 say we should approach salvation? Do you approach salvation in this way? If not, why not? Are babies saved? Are 5 year olds saved? 19 year olds? At what point, if any, do the conditions for salvation change and how do your answers affect the concept of "once saved, always saved"?

What does Acts 7:51 say about the ability to resist the Holy Spirit? What does this mean in terms of the existence of free will? Does your faith community teach something different about free will? If so, why?

What does Luke 23:24 indicate about those who act in ignorance? What does Romans 9:15 indicate about the ultimate sovereignty of God?

Revelation 17:15-18 speaks of a whore which is "that great city." What is this city according to Revelation 11:8? Where was Christ crucified?

How did the Jewish historian, Josephus, describe the Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed in A.D. 70?

Why does Jesus say He came according to John 12:25-27? What is the nature of the Kingdom according to John 18:36? How long has this been the nature of the Kingdom according to Matthew 25:34? What do those three verses say to those who might believe Jesus came (and will come again) to set up an earthly kingdom? Does Galatians 3:7-29 differentiate between the "seed of Abraham" and the Church? Who is a Jew according to Romans 2:28-29? With whom is the New Covenant made according to Jeremiah 31:31-34? Are there people who say they are Jews but are not according to Revelation 2:9 and 3:9? Given these verses, are people properly referred to as "Gentiles" when they enter the New Covenant? Did God keep His promises to the ancient Israelites concerning the Holy Land according to Joshua 21: 43-45, 1 Kings 8: 56, Nehemiah 9: 7-8? Why did they lose their rights to the Holy Land according to Deuteronomy 28: 58-68?

What are the Talmud and Kabbalah? What does the Talmud say about Jesus Christ and Mary? How is modern Judaism different from the religion of the Old Testament?

What objects are described in 1 Kings 6:29? What about in Ezekiel 41:17-19? What does this mean in light of Exodus 20:4?

Did the religion of the Old Testament have a sense of sacred time, sacred space, and sacred objects? Is there anything in the New Testament that indicates the concept of consecrated things/places/times has changed? What media does God use to effect miracles in:

Joshua 3:15; 1 Samuel 4-6; and 2 Samuel 11-1?


Numbers 21:9?


2nd Kings 13:21?


Mark 5:25?


Acts 5:15?


Acts 19:12?


What is the true relationship of the people described as "brothers" in: Genesis 11:26-28 and Genesis 14:14? In Genesis 29:15? In 1 Chronicles 23:21-22? In 2 Kings 10:13-14? In Deuteronomy 23:7 and Jeremiah 34:9? In Matthew 23:8? In John 20:17-18 and Matthew 12:49? In 1 Corinthians 15:6? Who is the real mother of "James, the brother of Jesus" according to your view of these verses: Matthew 27: 55-56, Mark 3:18, Mark 15:40, John 19:25, and Jude 1? What does "firstborn" mean (hint: see Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:14-15, Numbers 18:15)?

What is "Easter" called in Latin? In Italy, France and Spain? What is it called in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark? What do Byzantine Catholics call it? What is the common root word for all these names? What does that root word indicate about the origins of the holy day known in English speaking countries as "Easter"?

Everyone wants to be part of a "New Testament-style Church" -- but few are the people who read what the earliest Christians wrote! If worshipping and believing like the Apostles did are, indeed, what you want, then why haven't you read thoroughly Sacred Scripture, the Didache (the first century "Teachings of the Twelve Apostles"), Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, John Chrysostom, Augustine (all of him, not just the parts that, pulled out of context, seem to support various modern positions!), Hippolytus, etc. Even Origen and Tertullian give witness to what the early Christians believed... How can you know what the earliest Church was like if you don't look? What is holding you back? If you read these early Christians' writings, ask yourself: what Church today is like the Church they described? What Church today teaches Bible-based answers to the questions above?

For Those Who Hate the Catholic Church

Ask yourself: why do I hate the Catholic Church? Who taught me what I think I know about the Catholic Church? Is what I was taught true? Have I looked at what the Catholic Church has to say about itself, using official resources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and papal encyclicals? Could my opinion of the Catholic Church possibly be based on bias, bigotry, bad history, propaganda from the secular media, or the bad priests who get publicity (i.e., the sick, and sickening, ephebophile priests or those certain heretical modernist priests the secular media love to give press to)? Is it fair to judge doctrine by such things? Is any group with human beings in it free from sin and scandal? If I am wrong about the Catholic Church, what does that mean?

Here are some common myths about the Catholic Church:

  • Because Catholics reject the tradition of "sola fide" ("faith alone"), they think they can work their way into Heaven and believe they are saved by works
  • Catholics think Mary is part of the Godhead and is to be worshipped
  • Catholics worship statues
  • Catholics think they can't pray to God directly but have to go through saints
  • Catholics conjure the dead
  • Catholics believe people can be saved after they die
  • The Catholic Church teaches that one who isn't formally a Catholic is damned to Hell
  • The Crusades are an example of Catholic aggression
  • The Inquisition(s) killed hundreds of thousands of people and targeted Jews
  • Pope Pius XII was "Hitler's Pope" and didn't do a thing to help Jews during WWII

If you believe any of the above myths, I implore you to research. For doctrinal questions, ask the Church what it teaches; it's the only fair thing to do. For historical questions, look at balanced and objective scholarly research from a variety of sources (including Catholic ones).

And as you research, keep in mind the common logical fallacies that are often used in attacks against Catholicism:

"I knew a Catholic/ex-Catholic (or I was a Catholic) who was (mean, a drunk, not holy, didn't like the Church, was superstitious, didn't know the Bible, didn't have a deep relationship with Jesus, etc.), so therefore, the teachings of the Catholic Church are wrong." (Ignores the fact that bad catechesis, misunderstandings, or other shortcomings of a few Catholics do not reflect on what the Catholic Church teaches)

"If the Catholic Church doesn't teach that it's faith alone that saves, then it must teach that men are saved by their own works." (Ignores that we teach that we are saved by Grace alone -- a Grace with which we must cooperate through "faith that works in love")

Cum hoc ergo propter hoc:
"Winter Solstice is on 21 December; Christmas is 25 December. Therefore, Christmas is a pagan holiday. (Ignores that fact that there are only 365 days to choose from in a year and that the early Church Fathers had good reasons to choose the date they did. It also ignores that Protestants' "Reformation Day" is celebrated on 31 October, the pagan festival of Samhain.)

Post hoc ergo propter hoc:
"Constantine must have been the real source of the Catholic Church's teachings because after his reign the Church grew tremendously, and before his reign it wasn't as well-known" (Ignores the simple fact that Constantine merely stopped the persecution of Christians with the Edict of Milan and allowed Christianity to spread. It also ignores the writings of the Church Fathers who lived before Constantine -- and who were Catholic.)

Straw man:
"You guys worship statues, and that's evil. Therefore, your religion is Satanic." (Ignores that fact that we don't worship statues)