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Questions for Christians


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Table of Contents

1. WHY ASK QUESTIONS? A. Two Sources of Questions: Disagreement and Change B. In the Beginning: Jesus and the Kingdom of God C. Turning Christianity into a Set of Doctrines D. Turning Christianity into the State Religion of the Roman Empire E. What Would Jesus Do? F. Is Believing Doctrines the Essence of Christianity? G. Asking Questions Is Part of Being a Christian H. Paying Careful Attention to Words 2. THOUGHTFUL FAITH A. Is it all right to think carefully about the religion you grew up in? B. Is careful thinking opposed to faith? C. Is faith a kind of knowledge? D. Could some of my religious beliefs be false? E. Is faith always good? 3. THE BIBLE A. Is the Bible a book? B. Is the Bible the word of God? C. Does the Bible tell us all we need to know to live a good life? D. Is the Bible necessary for living a good life? E. Is the Bible scientifically and historically accurate? 4. JESUS CHRIST A. Is Jesus Christ the Messiah? B. Is Jesus Christ the Savior? C. Did Jesus Christ die for our sins? D. Is Jesus Christ the Son of God? E. Did Jesus Christ teach doctrines? 5. THE TRINITY A. Are Jesus Christ and God "of the same substance"? B. Does "the Holy Spirit" refer to someone other than the God of the Bible? C. Does the Bible say that God is three persons in one substance? D. Do the early creeds say that God is three persons in one substance? E. Is the Trinity a mystery? 6. THE FALL A. Did the human race start out perfect? B. Are babies born depraved and deserving of hell? C. Is death a penalty for sin? D. Can we do good actions by ourselves? E. Do we have free will? 7. LIFE AFTER DEATH A. Am I a soul or spirit? B. Did Jesus say that our souls go to heaven or hell when we die? C. Are there people in heaven and hell right now? D. Could I be resurrected as Jesus was? E. Could God punish people forever? 8. ANGELS AND DEMONS A. Do angels have wings and demons have horns? B. Do angels live in heaven and demons live in hell? C. Is there a guardian angel for each person? D. Is Satan an angel who led a rebellion against God? E. Do demons possess people? 9. THE GOOD LIFE A. Is being good obeying a set of commands? B. Would Jesus oppose gay marriage? C. Would Jesus favor capital punishment? D. Would Jesus join the U.S. Marines? E. Would Jesus shop 'til he dropped? 10. CHURCHES A. Did Jesus or his followers go to church? B. Did Jesus start a church? C. Did Jesus want people to be forced to join a church? D. Did Jesus want 34,000 churches? E. Do any churches today embody Jesus' "Kingdom of God"?

About the Author

John Morreall is professor of religious studies and chair of the department at the College of William and Mary. He has published widely, including The Religion Toolkit: A Complete Guide to Religious Studies.


Morreall examines nearly every facet of Christian belief, from the authority and interpretation of scripture to the nature of the church, with chapters examining Christology, the Trinity, the nature of God, the afterlife, and even the existence of angels and demons and whether angels have wings and demons have horns. . . .The premise is sound. * The Christian Century *
Dr. Morreall questions everything about Christianity, and he comes up with many great answers. One of his best ... surrounds his list of 'Ten Tenets.' First, John asks the questions, then he summarizes the core teachings of Jesus. It's a fine list. * The Telegraph *
Some of us were told as youngsters that asking too many questions is a bad habit, possibly even bordering on the sinful. John Morreall takes the opposite, and I think correct position, that questioning is integral to the religious life, indeed to being human. In this readable book he covers most of the questions that many Christians have wanted to ask but were hesitant to do so, and his answers are balanced and fair. A book for thoughtful people of all ages. -- Harvey Cox, Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, Harvard University; author of The Future of Faith
John Morreall explores a large range of questions about the meaning of Christian faith. Most important, he mandates the appropriateness of asking questions and exploring the diversity of views in Christianity. This is a useful book for Christians seeking better understanding of their religion, what it means and what it need not mean. -- Rosemary Radford Ruether, Claremont School of Theology
John Morreall's new book is a re-examination of Christian doctrine from a critical, historical-political perspective that aims at revealing how Greek-speaking theologians and Roman rulers distorted the message of Jesus, and how this distortion was continued, rather than corrected, by succeeding generations of Christians. We have a book that will provoke diverse intellectual and theological reactions and discussions, which is always much valued in theological scholarship. -- Najib George Awad, Hartford Seminary; author of God Without a Face?
By the device of articulating apparently simple or even naive questions of the Christian tradition and then answering them in a way which is informed without being academic-and radical in the sense of getting back to basics-Morreall has written a lively book that will inform and challenge those seeking to discover whether Jesus has good news for today. While he offers many points of sharp critique, he also helps the reader find hope in traditional structures. He also offers, in his ten tenets, a metric for measuring spiritual authenticity which is both astringent and insightful. Thus he provides a prophetic critique for our time and invites his readers to the kind of new life that flows from truthful interpretation and simple response to Jesus' life and witness. -- Stephen Cherry, director, Ministerial Development and Parish Support, Diocese of Durham, UK
In a world where many people think they have to search on their own for an ultimate meaning of life, John Morreall offers a compelling alternative: remain Christian but understand Christianity through contemporary, postmodern eyes. While his scholarship is impressive, Morreall writes in a simple, easy flowing style, one readily accessible to virtually every undergraduate today. He covers a wide range of topics, both creatively and judiciously. . . . He also covers a broad spectrum of theologies and theologians, from Justin Martyr to Rosemary Radford Ruether. He is not afraid to debunk commonly held beliefs-that faith is inherently good, that God is male, that Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, that we are souls encased in bodies, and that people are dwelling in heaven right now. The book insists it is not only legitimate but essential to ask questions, and faith without questions is not really faith. Students and questioning Christians of all ages need to read this book. -- Frederick J. Parrella, Santa Clara University
Questions for Christians is one of the most refreshing books I have read in a long time! In this celebration of a thinking faith, the [answers to] perplexing questions continually lead back to the 'ten tenets' of Jesus's life and teaching. While you'll appreciate John Morreall's clear and knowledgeable answers, it's his simple wisdom that will bring tears to your eyes. How did the church ever manage to drift so far from Jesus's message of radical compassion? -- Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor of Theology, Claremont School of Theology, Author of In Quest of Freedom: The Emergence of Spirit in the Natural World

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