Some believers, when pushed hard enough, will use the diversionary tactic that Paul employed in Romans 9: How dare you question the God who created you! He has the right to do what he wants!
To look at this tactic, I’m deliberately going to ask questions.
A lot of them.
First, does Paul’s response really make sense? Is it genuinely impertinent or arrogant to desire understanding? Or should it be our duty to fully understand our belief system?
Furthermore, why should someone be exempt from fielding questions simply because he has certain powers, or because he has created his questioners?
I can certainly understand that there are times when asking questions is not in everyone’s best interests. Take combat situations, for instance. The military would be a mess if soldiers were continually pausing to ask questions of their commanders. Yet this is ultimately a limitation of the activity being engaged in (i.e., combat), not of the qualities of the people involved. For instance, most commanders would, I imagine, be quite happy to take serious questions from soldiers if they were in a safer, more relaxed setting, like the mess tent.
Parents too, may find themselves in situations in which their children’s questions must be suppressed. (Movie theaters, for instance!) But what sort of parent would flatly refuse, under any circumstances, to attempt honest answers to her children’s questions? Moreover, what sort of parent would base her refusal to answer questions on the mere fact of her being the parent, and the questioner being the child?
And yet Christians claim that God is, indeed, permitted to take such a stance. Apparently he is above answering questions from anyone, especially his unworthy, mortal servants. But why is that? Why does his position as our creator place him above questions? Did he not create us with curiosity? Did he not give us intellects that allow us to assess what we know about him? And did he not instill in us a moral sense designed to trigger questions when we detect something morally suspicious? Why, then, would he consider it impertinent for us to ask questions? Does he want us to believe and obey blindly, like robots? Like slaves*?
Finally, the idea that God is exempt from questions is just plain fishy. It makes me think he has something to hide. More likely though, it means that Christians themselves are uncomfortable facing the incongruencies of their theology head on. The ban on questions is a mechanism that frees them from this task.
But all of this is futile in the end. God is invisible and never speaks. Even if Christians were completely relaxed about asking questions, it’s hard to know exactly how they would detect the answers – if there were any.
* In at least one place, the Bible uses slavery to describe Christians’ relationship with God:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (Ephesians 6:5-9.)