"So, if God can do anything, can God create a rock so big that he can't lift it?"
This is the type of question you'll hear in Bible class, one of the seven daily classes at Christian School. Bible, depending on the teacher, is either the best or the worst of the classes. With a good teacher that embraces questions, looks at the text as it is, and is comfortable in the gray, Bible is awesome. There are verses that tell people not to have sex with animals, verses that give hilarious anotomical metaphors, like boobs to deer. There are stories of great scandal, like the fact that the most famous king (David) saw a woman naked, had sex with her, and killed her husband. And then, the same woman becomes the mom of the second most famous king (Solomon). Reading some of these stories can make you horny, sitting in church or chapel, bored by the speaker but engaged with the text. Like: most other people I know that went to Christian Schools had some type of hotness ranking system that included: Ester, Bathsheba, Jezebel, and Delilah in some order in the top five. Woman that guys would kill for, you know had to be hot.
These situations and rankings is where our minds would roam quite often, when we had the worse of the types of Bible teachers, the types that think the stories in the Bible were written for a modern American audience. They think the book of Revelation is about the end times, coming soon; they think Paul's letters were written to the modern church; they think Genesis 1 is a description of creation, and that you can take a few lines of scripture and apply them to any setting. (I'd like to make a quick disclaimer and say that I don't necessicarily disagree, and think Revelations is fascinating and that humans are way worse at science than we think. So I'm not bashing the points of view, but they're funny. Especially when the holders of the view don't study science, and can't point to any evidence other than that 'they know').
The biggest problem with these types of teachers is that they're typically not too smart, but are assigned with the task of teaching the biggest of life's questions. The Bible deals with life as it is and was through an extended period of history, like 2000 BCE - 100 CE. That's a long time. That's an expansive collection of life, love, history, thought. It shows an evolution of thinking and being and processing. The Bible, basically, grows. This provides fascinating material for a teacher. Yet, the worst of Bible teachers have only one answer: God. And you can't really argue against that (especially within the context).
The Bible itself doesn't worry about being unable to give a context. Entire people live and die screaming for justice that never comes. They want things to change, but things remain the same. They die in chains and poverty. They sacrifice their kids. They get hung on crosses. The person at the center of the story, Jesus, died. There was a point where if you were living during these times: God was dead.
Think of that.
That's major and would toatlly mess wiht who you are on any level. Jesus, the person you base your entire existance on, died.
We know that he also rose again, we celebrate this, we believe he was and is The Messiah, and that all is now changed because of Jesus, but if you were alive during that time, he died. That's heavy. As is the task of being asked to kill your son, move from your family, leave everything you know. But these are all things people were asked by God to do.
I like The Bible because it offers truth that isn't permanent, and speaks to you differently at different ages of your life. I heard an analogy to an oven. You tell a little kid not to touch the stove, maybe even that it's bad; it's only bad because it's hot and the kid could burn themself. However, as the kid grows, learns, and understand, the stove becomes a valuable tool that provides life and joy. The stove didn't change, the kid's understanding of the stove did.
Embracing fuller understandings of science, God, life and The Bible provides a fuller life. It allows you to sit in periods of hardness, complain when something sucks, cry when something's sad, and act when something is unjust. It also allows you to express joy fully, to embrace life fully as the gift that it is, rather than attempt to find the limits of God.
In those bad teacher's classes, questions like the one about the rock came up. As did hilarious prayer requests. One well meaning, yet bad Bible teacher I worked with took any prayer request. Her beliefs were such that if a kid asked for prayer, she'd pray for it. That's what she was taught to do, and that's what God wanted. So the kids came up with schemes. Prayer requests took up half the class period. "Could you please pray that I get a B on this test, even though I didn't study", "could you please pray for this class to get better", or "could you please pray that I get an A in the class I'm failing without having to do any work" were all fair game. They were hilarious, leaving the teacher caught in the crosshairs of the quandary: ignore their request or pray for these things to happen.
It left her stuck, basically looking only at this planet our governing laws of science (mass and gravity), rather than the vastness of the Creator of All.
Rather than a clear, singular ending, I'm left with two thoughts: the first is that there is such a thing as a stupid question, the second that if we tap into the realm of wonder and awe, we never have to ask a question like that again.