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Breakfast at Tiffany's: Same question, different answer

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.” Matthew 16:4

 

The ‘deconstruction of Christianity’ is a modern movement that has exploded in recent years. Some understand deconstruction simply as “rethinking what you believe, engaging your doubts, or asking hard questions.”[1] Pastor and bestselling author John Mark Comer said: “This is the type of deconstruction where Jesus, and others, used Scripture to critique the world’s corruption of the church. But then there’s another type of deconstruction, that of Western millennials, who use the world to critique Scripture’s authority over the church.”1


This sort of deconstruction is dangerous because it redefines historic Christianity and has encouraged many to deconvert from the faith.


There is a stark contrast between engaging your doubt and embracing your doubt. The former has to do with a quest for truth, the latter has to do with changing the truth to fit one’s quest. “For some, these questions arise out of a trusting faith. For others, they arise out of a desire to have God prove himself on human terms.”[2]


Two types of questions were asked in the book of Luke that sounded very similar but had different motives and outcomes. One question was asked by Zechariah the priest. The angel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son. He told Zechariah that his son’s name would be John, and that he would be a great man of God. Zechariah asked, How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” Seems like a legit question. However, Gabriel said that because of his unbelief, Zechariah would be unable to speak until John’s birth was fulfilled. 


The other question was asked by the virgin Mary upon Gabriel’s announcement that she would conceive a son named Jesus. Gabriel said that he would be called the Son of the Most High and that his kingdom would last forever. In response to this news, Mary asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Also a legit question. However, Mary’s question was met with favor. Upon Gabriel’s explanation of how she would conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit, Mary responded, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”


Mark Galli described well the difference between the two questions:

Mary’s question is about God. Zechariah’s question is about himself. Mary’s question assumes God will do something good and great, and seeks to know how it will unfold. Zechariah is not at all sure that God is good and great, and seeks proof. Mary wants to learn more about the goodness of God. Zechariah mostly wants to be self-assured…A question can be grounded in trust in God’s goodness— or it can be a demand for a sign. God is pleased with the former, but not so pleased with the latter.2


[1] Alisa Childers and Tim Barnett. The Deconstruction of Christianity: What It Is, Why It’s

Destructive, and How to Respond (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2023)

 

[2] Mark Galli, God Wins: Heaven, Hell, and Why the Good News Is Better Than Love Wins (Tyndale House Publishers, 2011), 25.       

 

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