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Yes, I know this is a Q&A site about Christianity. Yet many questions that I have asked have been closed, for various reasons (primarily opinion-based, too broad, asks for pastoral advice, etc.)

I'm asking this question because it is in the context of a larger issue for me, than just this site. It seems that the institutions I've run into with Christianity (as compared to, say, Judaism) do not offer an easy way to get answers. I've spent a lot of time trying to track down answers to pretty basic questions, such as what something means or about logical contradictions, or what one is supposed to do once they become a Christian.

Here is what I have tried:

  • Going to a catholic Church and asking to speak to someone knowledgeable - not available.
  • Calling into a Christian radio show - was able to ask for 15 seconds and not able to follow up
  • Traveling pretty far to a Christian Apologetics conference (epsapologetics) and trying to speak to Apologists - some of them (such as William Lane Craig and Greg Koukl) said they simply will not speak individually at these events about Christian topics. I did meet a few people who did agree to speak to me.
  • Emailing apologists individually - Hugh Ross graciously agreed to speak with me and answer questions on skype. This seems to have worked the best.
  • Asking questions on this site.

When I have a question, such as "what can I pray for after a natural disaster", where should I turn? On this site, it would be closed as "asking for pastoral advice". But, where could I ask questions such as:

  • Apparent contradictions between science and a literal reading of the Bible stories such as the flood
  • Historical accuracy questions such as the lack of evidence for the mass resurrection of saints in Matthew
  • Logical questions such as "once saved always saved" vs Paul saying homosexuals and drunkards don't get into heaven

Without some way to effectively address these questions, I feel like my rational side will just rebel and won't let me believe. However ironic it may be, I feel that this question itself may be closed, even though it simply asks which sites online, or offline institutions and humans may be good to reach out to seeking answers.

migrated from christianity.stackexchange.com Apr 28 '15 at 22:49

This question came from our site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

  • 8
    Have you tried opening a chat room? – Rick Apr 27 '15 at 13:10
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    Uh-oh, this question may be closed because it is a list question, asking for a list. Have you tried googling "christian bulletin board" for sites, such as raptureready.com? – Steve Apr 27 '15 at 13:40
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    This chat room associated with Christianity.SE has been set up as a forum to facilitate (at least some of) the kind of conversations you are interested in. – bruised reed Apr 27 '15 at 13:44
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    simple - go to an evangelical church in you community and attend and evening bible study. there you can raise various questions with several people eager to answer. ;) ...by the way I have never noticed a good internet site for this.....the other option is just to go straight to God pleading with him to open your eyes with his divine power as you read the bible expecting fresh answers from him....that works also from my own experience...actually only thing that ever worked for me – Mike Apr 27 '15 at 14:13
  • Apparent contradictions are on topic here, as are many other question types you listed, if you can narrow the scope more. Otherwise chat is good, or else go to any regular church. Why go to the "experts" like WL Craig when you could buy their books, and when many ordinary Christians will be just as good at answering your questions? – curiousdannii Apr 27 '15 at 14:27
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    curiousdannii: Thanks for the advice. To answer your question, though, I think the point of speaking to experts is that I need a dialogue. If I read their books and disagree with what they have to say (such as Lee Strobel) I'd like to ask them a followup question. If they don't know themselves, but hold a strong position, they should give me some advice on how I can get answers. I guess I'm just frustrated with a pattern I've seen with Christians that it's so hard to just focus on the logical content of what is being said. And I wish getting answers was easier, without the discussion aborting. – Gregory Magarshak Apr 27 '15 at 15:37
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    Come into the chat room. If you had questions on (e.g.) Catholicism I'd be glad to answer them, and I know the same is true of others from different ecclesial bodies. The chat site is set up specifically to promote dialogue. – Matt Gutting Apr 27 '15 at 15:46
  • Imagine, for a moment, a God-hating, seething atheist who was also a LIBRARIAN devoted to the highest ideals of scholarship and information retrieval. This is how you should view this forum, and on most days we can do a good job of offering advice on how to write questions you'd ask such a librarian. On bad days, we can presume nefarious motives behind a question and close for "not clear what you'd do with the information." – pterandon Apr 28 '15 at 13:04
  • @GregoryMagarshak You want a dialog? Then do what Lee Strobel did -- make appointments with the experts in the colleges and universities. Pick up his book and read the follow-up books listed in the end of each chapter for more info. Indicate what subject you'd like to talk about and which prof. would be best to approach. – Steve Apr 28 '15 at 13:48
  • I will try to do that, Steve. I am willing to travel. – Gregory Magarshak Apr 28 '15 at 15:17
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    One of the things you want to avoid, and which you fall into on this site, is going over the same ground over and over again. You actually have a pretty good record of getting questions answered if you discount the several times you asked "Isn't it a problem if we're wrong and Jesus isn't really God?" – DJClayworth Apr 28 '15 at 21:14
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    @pterandon Close, but not hating. Apathetic is more like it. Apathetic is the academic default. We don't make judgements either way. Here's a great resource. – 3961 Apr 28 '15 at 22:48
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This site is a good place! You need to know how to ask though. A lot of your questions are very broad and have been closed for that reason. You ask way too many things at once. Breaking them down into smaller questions would allow them to be answered on this site. Another idea would be reading books about the things you wonder about.

Also, when someone comments on why a question of yours is off-topic, pay attention to their reasons! Below I'll comment on how some of your questions could be improved. Some that I've left out already have good comments on them that explain exactly why they were closed. But if you're ever confused about what's wrong with a question of yours, ask a question here on meta and we'll try to help you get it improved and (ultimately) reopened and answered.

Couldn't it be dangerous to pray to Jesus if he may be a man?

This is multiple questions in one, as many commenters told you.

In a comment, you summarized your question like this:

I am worried that praying to Jesus is risking idol worship. And if Jesus himself taught to pray to God our Father in heaven, what is the advantage for Christians to pray to Jesus? Why don't they just always pray to God directly, and ask for things in Jesus' name?

I think the first sentence translates to this (Joe's paraphrase of your question):

1) Do Protestants have any doubts that Jesus is God? 2) If so, is it idolatry to pray to him?

"Do Protestants have any doubts?" Well, that would be for various Protestants to answer individually. As you know, "Jesus is God" is an article of faith. Do some doubt? Certainly. Asking on an academic Q&A site isn't going to get you very far though. If you ask on a Christian forum (like http://ChristianForums.com/) you may get some good discussion; that's what it is though, a request for discussion, not for answers. Keep that distinction in mind: if you want discussion, go to a forum (or our chatroom). If you want an answer, go here. If you don't yet know enough about the subject matter to know which you want, find a book and read it. For book recommendations, ask on a forum or in our chatroom.

But back to the idolatry question. I think these questions are closely related enough to be in the same question together:

And if Jesus himself taught to pray to God our Father in heaven, what is the advantage for Christians to pray to Jesus? Why don't they just always pray to God directly, and ask for things in Jesus' name?

And you did ask that elsewhere, and that question remains open: What's the Biblical basis for calling God by the name of Jesus in prayers? But I think it has problems of its own.

What's the Biblical basis for calling God by the name of Jesus in prayers?

My question is -- why do many Christians prefer to pray to the person of the Godhead who is Jesus? I do not find such a teaching in the Bible, and I wonder what purpose it accomplishes.

Good question! But then you tack on a few more questions. If you get rid of them I may throw in an answer of my own.

Is this what Jesus meant when he said to ask "in his name"? It seems to me that the "in his name" might mean as if you are asking for something in someone else's name, or it could be some ancient expression from those times to mean to pray to the name "Jesus" in the Godhead.

If that is where the practice comes from, the answers will say that whether you ask specifically about it or not. As it is, asking about this just confuses the question (in my opinion). A better approach would be asking on BH.SE about what "in his name" means. [Edit]: Actually, it's been asked on our site already, here; but two points remain: 1) it could be asked on BH still, and 2) it's a separate question from the one you asked.

In any case, the real name was "Yeshua" wasn't it?

This part has already been answered well here.

Lastly, is there anything that a person loses by always praying to God the Father?

I'm not sure this part actually belongs in the question either. I think this is another question that calls more for discussion than for answers. So I'd remove this part and ask it on a forum.

How does a person determine whether they are a "false Christian" or "inconsistent Christian"?

This question is asking about assurance of salvation. Since Calvinism is the most consistent framework to espouse "once saved always saved" you may be interested in reading a question and answer from that perspective.

In my opinion (and I think this agrees with site policy too) "How does doctrine X make sense in light of verse Y?" questions are best when focusing on one verse at a time. So, if after reading the overview of the Calvinist doctrine of assurance you still have questions about how the particular verses you quoted are dealt with, ask new questions about how Calvinists address those verses, one at a time.

How is teaching that Jews don't have to follow the Law reconciled with the Word of God and Jesus?

This is another case where you need to specify a tradition. Different traditions will have different viewpoints on this.

As a quick diversion, on several of your questions you say in the comments that you don't understand why questions need to specify a denomination. Well, let me give you three links that address that very issue: Christianity.SE vs. Survivor Would it be constructive to allow questions have multiple acceptable answers based on denomination? Should we encourage the answerer to post their denominational viewpoint vs. closing truth questions?

There are lots of different perspectives on how the Old Testament law applies to the Christian of today. In Protestantism, there's Covenant Theology, New Covenant Theology, and Dispensationalism. Presbyterians align with Covenant Theology, Pentecostals typically follow Dispensationalism, Baptists often follow Dispensationalism but sometimes Covenant or New Covenant Theology, and Lutherans have their own view similar to Covenant Theology. I don't know where Methodists tend to fall. Catholics and Orthodox have their own versions of the doctrine, and I'm not sure what they're closest to in the list I just gave. So for this question, you need to pick one and ask about that.

But secondly and just as importantly, this is actually four separate questions:

  1. What are some of the official explanations for why it's OK for Jews not to follow the law today? For example eat bread on passover, or work on Yom Kippur? How are the above verses addressed?

  2. How did Christians officially address these words of Jesus throughout history, when they taught that Jews shouldn't follow some or all of the Law of Moses (for example the ceremonial laws)? What do they think it means to be called least in the kingdom of Heaven?

  3. Jesus told a man how to get eternal life. If Christians do not consider following the commandments essential to salvation, why did Jesus say what he said?

  4. Why would they ask Paul to dispel these rumors and in fact affirm that Paul himself is living in obedience to the law?

Remember what I said above about asking questions about one verse at a time? That's what I'd do here. First read up on (or ask about) an overview of covenant or dispensational theology or whatever, then when you understand the basics if you're still confused about how the doctrine jives with certain verses, ask about those verses one at a time.

How do we explain Paul's encounters with disciples of Jesus in light of the Great Commission?

Though I answered this question, I won't be surprised if it too gets closed as too broad. A similar question was asked by someone else later. It is more focused, has a higher score, has fewer answers, and its answers are voted higher than your question. I only mention these comparisons because I think that's what happens when you ask a more tightly focused question.

As a rule of thumb, a good answer will typically be longer than a good question. If a question takes an essay to ask, it can easily take a book to answer well. And while books may sell well, they're not as widely read as short essays and blog posts and the like. So if you have a question, break it down into bite-sized pieces. Then more people will be willing to read them, some of those people will answer, and more people will read the answers. Thus, you are more likely to be helped, and future site visitors are as well.

Conclusion

That's all I have time for now. Again, if you have questions about other questions of yours, ask new questions here on meta. And if you have questions about what I said in this answer, comment below and I'll be glad to help.

  • 3
    Great run down. Thank you for taking the time to build this community. – 3961 May 6 '15 at 22:30
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GotQuestions.org is a ridiculously good resource, already touching on almost any topic you can think of, but you can also submit your own question via their form, and they'll get back to you in 2-7 days.

Also, I find it sad that a local church's leaders weren't able to make the time for you to ask your questions. You mentioned Catholic - I don't know if that's the only denomination you attend services of - but venture out. Most small church pastors will gladly have lunch with you and discuss whatever you may want.

  • 1
    That sounds encouraging! I am in NYC but even willing to travel quite far to have a dialogue with Christians who can answer my questions. Maybe I should make a site to make it easier and attract experts to answer. I also considered posting debates on youtube where I replace one of the speakers, and pretend to "debate" while asking the questions I really want to ask. – Gregory Magarshak Apr 28 '15 at 21:25
  • A site would be interesting, for sure. Attracting the experts might be a bit difficult, but it could simply be the accumulation of experts' opinions on the topics. Also, reddit.com/r/Christianity is a very non-hostile subreddit with people eager and willing to answer questions to the best of their abilities. – GMGrimley Apr 30 '15 at 17:31
  • @GregoryMagarshak If you're in NYC, you can probably discuss things with people at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, which prides itself on being seeker-friendly. – Mr. Bultitude May 6 '15 at 22:38
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My website is all about answering life-related questions from a rational and spiritually oriented Christian perspective. I see no conflict between genuine Christianity on the one hand, and sound science and reason on the other. Specifically, I am a semi-independent ordained minister affiliated with the Swedenborgian Church, which draws on the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).

Unfortunately, there is not enough time in the day for me to answer every question submitted to my site. I do have a day job. However, many common questions are already answered there. For example, about the Flood, I've offered a spiritual (rather than literal) approach to that story here: Noah's Ark: A Sea Change in the Human Mind

For a more general piece on issues of the Bible vs. science and reason, please see: Can We Really Believe the Bible? Some Thoughts for Those who Wish they Could

If you are truly seeking answers that can satisfy your rational mind, I would be happy to discuss your questions at my website, or in one of the chatrooms here if you prefer. I can't promise speedy answers. But I'll do my best either to refer you to an already written article or to give you at least some response to any questions I think I can help you with.

I should add that I have no interest in academic debate for purely intellectual reasons, which I find to be a complete waste of time. However, I do greatly enjoy helping people who are struggling with the tough questions and issues of life.

  • The question asker should note that Swedenborgianism is probably outside the doctrinal branches he has been considering so far, based on the example issues in the question. – curiousdannii Apr 29 '15 at 14:13
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    @curiousdannii Thanks for attaching a warning. However, I think I have already made it abundantly clear that Swedenborg is outside of the mainstream of Christianity. And the OP did not specify any particular branch of Christianity, so my answer here is perfectly within topic. Further, his references to rationality and logic suggest that Swedenborg's theology might be a good fit for him. Swedenborg was a scientist and philosopher who later turned to religion, bringing his logical, scientific, and rational mind with him. – Lee Woofenden Apr 29 '15 at 14:33
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Here's my advice as a general answer to "Where am I?" "Where am I to go?"

Right now, figure out where you are right now (I know it's hard given your question), but come up with your closest approximation of it. Try to put this in terms of contemporary people. For example, if you were Catholic, I would start with a google search with these terms:

site:https://twitter.com/ catholic sermon

If you think you're starting Lutheran or Episcopal or evangelical, put in the appropriate word. From this, you'll find a series of tweets linking to podcast-sermons. Study all on the first page. Some you may like, some you may dislike, in terms of making a rational or inspiring case for the Truth you believe is there. From the ones you like, look in their Twitter stream to see whom they are citing or are buddies with. Then find if any of them have sermons available. Among those who are most inspiring, look to see who they are referencing. And so it goes.

I believe there is a way to offer this information back in the general question section of this site, but perhaps I'd need to find a quote from a Church Father to make my case.

  • 1
    Searching Twitter rather than directly in Google/your favourite search engine seems like weird advice. Just search directly for the sermons! – curiousdannii Apr 29 '15 at 14:14
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    If "Catholic" then perhaps "homily", not "sermon". – Matt Gutting Apr 30 '15 at 11:34
  • The benefit of Twitter is that you have instant access to a community or a web of connections. If you like someone's sermons, you can easily turn to his or her following list, and/or look at whom they cite and retweet. The web pages for congregations are rarely this sophisticated, and IMO are duty-bound to make blanket endorsements of the denomination, not those individuals who most inspire the pastor. – pterandon May 17 '15 at 11:36
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I am affraid that you have done it again. As there are many Eccliasial bodies represented here, outside the Church, there will be many answers depending on what they personally believe based on how they, with there own flavor of biblical traditions, interpret the word of God. To explain the differences they will suggest that Romans 14 allows them to have differences of opinion.

There is a Book, put out by the Catholic Church called the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Many of the quesitions you are postinug can be answered from that Book. This however Takes work on your part. There is also faithful knowlegeble Catholics that would I am sure be willing to discuss issues that are frustrating you. Some on this site I am sure would even be willing and able to do so, as I would to the best of my ability. Just not Here.

The most interesting thing I picked up on your Question, is that you require evidence for things. There is I am affraid to inform you, very little that will help you with this. There is no Proof, there is no microscope to look under or math equation to solve that will detect the Holy Spirit. These are issues of Faith, faith that requires humbling yourself to the teachings of the past and the present if need be. You can find comfort in the Catholic Faith however, as you are for one, not required to believe the Earth is 7000 years old.

I understand your issues with contradictions concerning OSAS , I am amazed how people can adhere to it. This issue is related to Culture and Language and the differences that they pose in our modern world.

In short, My answer is. Go to the CCC and look up each and every reference until you are satisfied with the answers or dismayed.

OTHER SOURCES:

Catholic Answers- www.Catholic.com

Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology- www.salvationhistory.com

New Advent for councels, church fathers and more- Newadvent.org

Teachings of any of the fallowing apologists:

Tim Staples

Scott Hahn

Brant Pitre

Jimmy Akin

There are more than I can list, more soures than can be typed.

I wish you luck.

  • 1
    I would be happy to help in Chat with any questions. I am sure others here would also help with them. You should know however, that not all questions have answers. – Marc Apr 27 '15 at 13:37
  • So this answers the OP on where he can dialog with people? – Steve Apr 28 '15 at 13:50
  • No, people will mislead you. God knew this, that's why he left us a Church. I am answering the original question posted. "Where are some good places to get Christian questions answered?" I have provided some resources, as to the dialoging, I have extended not only my assistance, which is limited like any other Christians, I have volunteered those Evangelical Catholics here without asking them knowing they will do more than I would have asked. We are one Church, working as one Body, for the One Kingdom Under God. – Marc Apr 28 '15 at 15:57
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The best place to get answers about Christianity is directly from Jesus.

If you do not know how to do that, then I suggest chatting with me for a while.

  • 1
    @GregoryMagarshak - I recommend that everyone have a chat with Onlyheisgood at least once. – ShemSeger May 4 '15 at 19:14
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    Are you guys serious – Gregory Magarshak May 4 '15 at 19:45
  • @GregoryMagarshak Well, it kind of makes you wonder. Why are you a Christian if you don't think the Almighty God is willing to talk to you personally? That's partly why I left the faith. – 3961 May 5 '15 at 4:04
  • @GregoryMagarshak I am very serious, the Lord speaks to us very often, however your ear must be trained to hear that it is from him. For many can not hear, and neither do they see, unless they would turn and be forgiven. He speaks so much it is like a river, and if you learn to drink, you will never die. – Decrypted May 7 '15 at 2:13

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