James P. Needham
Winter Park, Fla.
A few years ago, the author received two or three questions from a reader of his weekly church bulletin. It was decided to answer these questions through the bulletin. From that small beginning a "WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION?" column was developed which soon became one of the most popular features of the little weekly publication. When I moved from that church and ceased as editor of that bulletin, I had a back log of questions. Brother Willis requested that we transfer the column to our weekly TRUTH MAGAZINE, and so, with this issue we launch this new project.
Be assured that I do so with fear and trembling! By no means do I feel that I am an expert at answering Bible questions. I fully realize that I do not have all the answers, and that others may sincerely differ with positions taken. I promise to answer every question received, even though the answer may have to be, "I DO NOT KNOW."
Editing such a column is by no means a 'small task. Often questions arise that one has not considered before, and thus one must start from scratch" in his efforts to give a Bible answer. While such research is profitable, it is also very time consuming. In the few years that I have edited such a column I think I have profited far more than have my readers. I think such will continue to be true in the present effort. I shall labor diligently to make this column both interesting and profitable. Adding to the difficulty of the present column will be our policy to keep it brief. Our desire is to keep length to one page. This requires refining material to a very high degree, but should the column more readable and interesting. Some subjects will not be adaptable to one page length, but our general policy will page articles in this department.
Just here it seems appropriate to say a few things about questions. There are many different kinds, and perhaps it will be good to list some of them:
(1) Foolish and unlearned questions: (2 Tim. 2:23; Tit. 3:9). Paul told Timothy to avoid these because "They do gender strife." Since this is a divine injunction, it will be necessary for us to obey it. Our desire shall be to teach rather than "gender strife." There are some things we would all like to know about which the Bible says little or nothing. In such areas, we shall not engage in speculation, realizing that "the secret things belong to God . . ." (Deut. 29:29).
(2) Teaching questions: Some people ask questions, not to obtain information for themselves, but for others! The inquirer may not be in the best position to give the information to the person needing it, so he passes the question to someone from whom the information may be more readily accepted. This is a legitimate use of questions.
(3) Information-seeking questions: I think most of the questions I have received and answered in this column through the years have been of this type. They came from sincere persons who needed and wanted the information they sought. It is a real joy to answer such questions, and from such one derives a wonderful feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
(4) Questions designed to stir heated controversy: Some brethren are lovers of controversy-they had rather fuss than have peace! They are quick to use a question and answer column to keep controversy stirred. There are some issues that were being debated before any of us were born. Brethren have never agreed on them, and likely never will. Some brethren make "hobbies" out of these, and are not satisfied unless they are being constantly debated. In most cases, such controversy is characterized by more heat than light, and nobody is better because of it. We shall be happy to express our views on such controversies, but we shall not make this column a sounding board for this type of thing. It "genders strife" and promotes partyism, and we have interest in neither.
We trust the readers will help us to make this feature of the new weekly TRUTH MAGAZINE one of its most popular features. You can help by sending us your questions, and telling others about it.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 3, pp. 3-4
November 20, 1969