Monday, October 29, 2012

Finding God in the Questions

Chapter 7:  Who Was Jesus?

1.  What about the jargon/lingo of Christianity seems confusing or odd to you?

2.  Does the idea of Jesus performing miracles in the Gospels enhance or hinder your faith in him as the Son of God?  How?

3.  How do you respond intellectually or emotionally when hearing the story of Jesus' crucifixion?

4.  Why is it so important to a Christian's faith that Jesus was resurrected from death?  In what ways might the resurrection change your life?

5.  How would you respond to the perspective cited, "If you don't believe in the resurrection, you are not a true believer and certainly not a Christian in any traditional sense?"

6.  Which piece of evidence for Jesus' resurrection, if any, do you find most convincing?

7.  In your mind, what about the church discredits the Jesus of the Gospels and his teachings?

8.  What experiences with the church have led you to or away from following Jesus?

9.  Are you comfortable with Johnson's decision to describe himself as a "follower of Jesus" rather than as a "Christian?"  Which label feels right for you?

10.  How might followers of Jesus mend the negative reputation Christianity has gained?

11.  Jesus told Nicodemus, "No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."  What does it mean to be born again?  Why did Jesus insist, "You must be born again?"

12.  How do you feel about the N.T. Wright quote in answer to the question, "Is Jesus God?"  Is it as helpful to you as it is to Johnson?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chapter 6:  What Did Jesus Teach?

1.  Imagine that you are sitting on the side of a hill and listening to Jesus in person.  What questions or responses might you have about Jesus?

2.  What is your impression of Jesus?  What experiences or people shaped this impression in your mind?  How might this be different from the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels?

3.  What prejudices about Jesus, the Gospels or religion keep people from exploring Christianity?

4.  What is most surprising to you about Jesus' teachings mentioned in the chapter?  What about this teaching seems startling?

5.  Why do you think teaching on certain subjects (like abortion or homosexuality) is not found in the Gospels?

6.  Think of a time when you viewed yourself as impure or unacceptable.  What made you feel that way?  How might Jesus respond?

7.  Jesus warned his followers about the foolishness and futility of acquiring wealth for its own sake.  Do you agree with Jesus' teaching on money and possessions?  Is it realistic?  Why or why not?  What makes his teachings so hard to follow?

8.  Johnson states, "Jesus had a startling way of zeroing in on the sore spot, the hidden problem that was keeping a person from truly seeking God."  If you were to encounter Jesus on the side of the road, what would be the "sore spot" he might focus on in your life?

9.  Considering the story of Zacchaeus, what might Jesus expect you to do in order to receive "salvation" and remedy that troubled area in your life?

10.  Which character do you identify with in the story of the prodigal son?  Why do you picture yourself in that role?  What does the parable say about God's love for this particular character?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Finding God in the Questions

Chapter 5:  Why Bother with Religion and the Bible?

1.  Do you think that it's worthwhile to think about and discuss religion?  Do you think that religion could change your life?  In your view, what are the best reasons for paying attention to religion?

2.  What kind of impact, both positive and negative, has religion had on the world?  What effects has religion had on your life so far?

3.  As Johnson notes, the Bible is central to the Christian faith.  What role has the Bible played in your life up to this point?  In what way is the New Testament relevant to your life now?

4.  When speaking about the Bible, Johnson advises us "not to take particular passages out of context."  Why is this so important?

5.  What is special about Jesus' life and teachings that help us understand the whole Bible?

6.  What are signs that the New Testament is a dependable source for what Jesus actually spoke and did?

7.  What similarities and differences do you see from Johnson's short summaries of each of the four Gospels, especially regarding who Jesus is?

8.  In his discussion of the Gospels and the teachings of Jesus, Johnson says, "His parables and life experiences often speak to universal questions and longings that transcend the particular concerns of his own time."  How might Jesus' words and life apply to your own "big questions" of today?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Finding God in the Questions

Chapter 4:  Who Are We?

1.  Johnson says that even if we think that moral principles came about because of a kind of social selection, the existence of God could still be the ultimate source of morality.  How is this possible?

2.  Do you think it is reasonable to claim that all moral principles came about because they are useful and advance the comfort of the human race?  Why or why not?

3.  Describe a time that you experienced the "inner light" that Johnson describes on page 64...a time when you specifically referenced a higher moral principle.

4.  Which do you think is more likely, that our universal moral principles come from the existence of God, or as a result of social evolution?

5.  Are you convinced by Johnson's arguments that there is a God of creation, and how does this idea of the creator God affect your idea of the God of religion?

6.  What does our deep need for morality, relationships and contact with something (or someone) transcendent tell us about our place in the universe?

7.  Have you ever had an experience in which you seemed to be in contact with a transcendent entity?  How did this experience influence your spiritual journey?