Gotcha Questions to Stump the Bible Teacher

While visiting the Farrier Supply house this week (for a new rasp and left hand hoof knife) I enjoyed conversation with Jessie, the gentleman who either owns the business or works there. Toward the end of our lively conversation about relationship with Christ and the sorry state of the world today he asked if I would answer a question. I said I would certainly give it my best shot.

Playing Stump the Bible Teacher

Jesse was asked the question by a student in the Wednesday night Bible class he teaches on the book of Revelation. He thought the question was very difficult and did not have an answer. The lady who posed the question is known to indulge in little games of Stump the Bible Teacher on occasion.

I bet you all want to know what the question was. The question asked about some precise detail about life in the millennial reign of Christ. Since the Bible does not address such things there is no precise answer available. Given the lady’s history, I expect this was really a gotcha question and not one generated by innocent random curiosity.

Answering Gotcha Questions About the Bible

Jesus was asked gotcha questions throughout His three year ministry. From Pharisees to Pilate, questions were asked for the sole purpose of trapping Jesus no matter what answer He gave.

If you recall, Jesus responded in one of two ways; He remained silent or asked a question of His own. Bible teachers do well to follow His example. When a question has no answer it is foolish to offer one unless you respond with another question.

Questions or issues that are material to becoming and living as a New Creation in Christ are covered (usually more than once) in God’s Word. If there isn’t any mention in the Bible of anything even remotely relating to the issue at hand then the details will simply have to remain a mystery. A sure sign that a round of Stump the Bible Teacher has begun is the continued press for an answer to an irrelevant or unanswerable question.

What is behind such gamesmanship? Nothing holy, that’s for sure. If someone suggests that the answer to such a question is material to his or her walk with Christ I would entertain doubts about the sincerity of their interest.

Bible Questions that Condemn

There may be no such thing as a stupid question, but there are questions that may condemn the asker by the asking. Let’s consider the parable of the vineyard owner in Matthew 20:1-16.

Each day men gathered in the center of town seeking work to buy food for their families. Jesus tells us that the vineyard owner made his way to the marketplace early one morning to offer employment to men eagerly waiting for such an opportunity. Employment was gratefully accepted, a wage agreed upon, and the men set off to work with the vineyard owner’s grapes.

As you remember, the vineyard owner returned several times throughout the day to hire men who needed work. Wives, parents, and children must eat. If no one hires the man of the house the family will starve.

What would you think of a man, desperate for work, who reacted to the vineyard owner’s offer of employment with this question:

“Are the grapes in the vineyard green or purple?”

The question is absurd, irrelevant, and serves no purpose.

Motivation behind “Stump the Bible Teacher”

What motivates a person to ask his or her Bible teacher an equally absurd or irrelevant question? Certainly not the Holy Spirit or an honest search for truth or understanding.

The color of the grapes in the vineyard is not material to either a vineyard worker or one who studies the parable itself. A question that seeks a detailed description of daily life in the millennial kingdom is not material to our Christian walk with Christ today or tomorrow.

The vineyard owner offered a life-saving opportunity. The color of the grapes didn’t matter.

Jesus Christ offers each of us a life-saving opportunity. Trivial, irrelevant details of life in a glorified body don’t matter. What matters is that we accept the offer without qualification or limitation.

Answer gotcha questions with silence or ask a question of your own, such as, “Does your faith in Christ and the truth of the gospel rest upon the answer to this question?”

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  1. Roger Williams:

    I love that last question, Lynn. It’s a great gotcha question for hypocrites and mockers – puts them on the back foot!

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