The right answer for the wrong question still does nothing for the the question and has questionable benefit to the asker. Many times I will start a Bible study with the statement that there is such a thing as a stupid question. After all, the Bible says so: “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, for they do gender strife.”
In our post-modern, americanized mono-culture, we are conditioned to question everything except the appropriateness of our questions; and to tolerate everything except intolerance. There has been a pernicious promulgation of this skeptical immorality through TV, movies, so-called ‘news’, public and private education to the point that it has become the “bedrock” (quicksand, though it is) of the thinking processes even of people who define themselves as serious Christians.
In an effort to make Christianity more accessible to the “un-churched” there has been a progressive stripping away of everything that is considered non-essential in church services. Everything has been questioned. Almost everything has been discarded or reworked to the point of being unrecognizable to any Christian of a generation ago. A couple of years ago, I noted that the only constant element of various church services was announcements. The two things that have not been questioned (in true, spirit-of-the-times fashion) are the validity & appropriateness of the questions and the results of the process.
The results of the process should have been obvious to any serious thinker and were to many older folks whose protests were pushed aside by the younger generations of market savvy, professionally trained clergy and laity. I have a question: Once you secularize the church service to the point that it is non-threatening and even comfortable and entertaining to the un-churched, how can you tell if they have been churched? What I have seen is that instead of ‘churching the un-churched’; this process has finished the job of secularizing and effectively un-churching whole churches.
The process started with the wrong questions being asked and the right questions being ignored. Instead of asking how we can make services more palatable and less threatening to the lost; we should ask how can we make our worship more palatable to God and more threatening to the demons. Instead of asking what is the bare minimum required for a person or group to be saved or Christian; we should ask how can we enter into and call others to the fullness of the faith and fellowship with God.
Instead of asking how we can change the service to get our non-Christian neighbors to come to church; we should ask how can we change our lives so that our non-Christian neighbors will want to come to Christ. Instead of asking how we can make church relevant for today; we should ask how does today measure up to the eternal Church. Instead of asking how we can bring the church down to the level of post-Christian America; we should ask how can we enter into the heavenlies with the Holy Apostle Paul and all the Saints.
Maybe you ask: Why is a group that ministers to homeless people writing about this in their newsletter? I don’t think that’s a stupid question, so I’ll try to make the connection for you.
When we started The King’s Jubilee in February of 1989, a fundamental goal was to somehow find or rebuild the Church. We took our lead from Ephesians 4. We were confident that if we did, and equipped others to do, good works in Jesus’ Name that we would grow up into Him and be united with His Body, the Church. That is what has happened. We have found the home for the spiritually homeless: the Holy Orthodox Christian Church.
When we first approached Orthodoxy, we asked some stupid questions ourselves. I call them stupid because they were conditioned by our culture of rationalist efficiency rather than by faith. We asked, “Do we really need to have incense and Icons?”
Thankfully, no one answered. It is not a question of need. That points the way to minimalism and secularism. Incense and Icons are part of the answer to: How can we enter fully into the worship of the Triune God with all of the Saints?
Another stupid question that I have heard Christians ask is: Why do services need to be so long? Jesus answers: “What? Could you not watch with Me for one hour?” (Matt.26:40) The question again is not of what is the minimum to escape Hell, but how can we more fully enter into glory! If we don’t enjoy worship, we should really be asking ourselves whether or not we want to go to Heaven.