Welcome back. You belong here. I’m shooting-from-the-hip but here goes.

Questions I’m asking #1 – 32…

1. We are exiting the postmodern and entering a new world dominated by genetic engineering. What shape will the gospel take when men no longer die?

2. Why do people still get excited about being postmodern when as followers of Jesus, we’re from the future?

3. There are a lot of articles explaining how Pastors or churches should go about hiring staff. Does this point to the fact that we have lost the essence of what it means to be the church?

4. What is the gospel?

5. What is the mission of the church?

6. What shape will the gospel take when mankind first encounters intelligent extraterrestrial life?

7. The greatest persecutors of the Christ following faith in America are Christians. When and why did this happen?

8. What shape will the gospel take when there is a universal acceptance of Evolution? Welcome to the future.

9. What shape will science and technology take when they can’t discover an evil gene?

10. What will it mean to be human when the first robot wakes up?

11. Will Human clones be fertile and capable of reproducing? What shape will the gospel take when the time comes to reach the second generation of clones?

12. Why should the gospel be shaped at all by any of the above? How will the gospel shape humanity in any of the scenarios listed above [or below]?

13. How can I move back to LA?

14. Why does it seem that all the most “successful” pastors in America are either CEO’s, TV stars or celebrities, but in China they are scarred apostles?

15. Is it OK to view the evangelical population of America as a market with a hunger to buy worship music and pop theology?

16. A missionary once said to me that they wanted to build an orphanage in a certain country –but not in a certain city in that country because she wouldn’t want to raise her children there. Is there a difference between a good deed and a gut wrenching calling?

17. Once a deacon and finance director of the church told me –in a budget crunch — that there were things he just would not do [like cleaning bathrooms]. How do people like this get to the highest places of church leadership?

18. What do I have to be able to do to live in London? And make it possible for my friends to move there with me? Boston? Miami?

19. Could George Bush be right when he says that Islam is a religion of peace!?

20. If we presented the gospel to Osama Bin Laden and he refused to believe. Would it be right to shoot him?

21. Pacifists like to quote Jesus: he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. That’s not the whole of it though. Jesus forgot to mention that plenty of people who did NOT live by the sword also died by the sword. In either case, is there a place for swords in a Christ following worldview? Jesus was a Jew and shared in their martial tradition. Was Jesus really a pacifist?

22. Sure monogamy seems to be the preferred marital relationship in scripture, but is polygamy always wrong and unbiblical?

23. The Reformation was more a product of Gutenberg’s printing press than it was about Luther’s thesis. How would the Church have evolved towards the gospel if the world had never heard of Luther or Calvin?

24. How can fresh theological frameworks emerge from the soil of the 21st century and not simply be regurgitations of 16th and 17th century theology?

25. How will the gospel be shaped when our latent psychic powers are proven beyond a shadow of a doubt?

26. Universalism and Predeterminism (a la uber Calvinists) are kissing cousins. They approach God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom the same way. God determines in eternity the paths men “choose” to take. The only difference is that Univeralism’s God saves everyone and Calvin’s randomly elects to condemn some and requires that he be praised for not condeming everybody. Does this make sense after reading John 3.16?

27. Why can’t I ever leave well enough alone?

28. If the sweetest, most authentic moments for a church plant are the momentum building, evangelism, laughter and community that occur before the doors are open for an official launch, why ever, ever open the doors?

29. When genetically enhanced IQs become available, will that create a “status” gap between those who can afford to “enhance” their children and those who cannot? Could the gap become so large [IQ, physical features, talents, other capacities] that a segment of humanity [most likely the poor and some of the middle class] become like cattle?

30. If you lived in a world where the IQ gap was severe, would that be a prerequisite when it came to dating?

31. If during the last century, the world moved to the cities, why did the American church move to the suburbs?

32. Why did Jesus say, “go and make disciples of all nations…”? Couldn’t he have just said, go and disciple the neighbors?
What are you thinking about?

See you in the mystic…

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30 responses to “A List: What I’m thinking about (Part 1)”

  1. Mike Avatar


    I appreciate the questions on your list and struggle with many of them myself. One thing that is on your list about “calvinism” is the use of the word RANDOMLY in connection with choosing some. Perhaps some questions before this one, so that this view is fairly represented, would be beneficial in addition to this one.

  2. Alex Avatar

    mike, yes “random” implies that God has no reasons. it also implies that the reasons for his choices –if in fact he makes these kinds of choices –are not “in” man but in God. since the idea that God predestines some for perdition when all deserve it is distasteful, unless one buys en toto into a certain “system” of thinking about God, i thought “random” worked. remember, these are just things i’m thinking about.

    i would love to add the “prior” questions that come to your mind with regard to calvinism to the list here. what might they be?

    and, like i say in my disclaimer, i reserve the right to disagree with myself. i extend the same freedom to other thinkers too. thanks for your input.

  3. Sam. Avatar

    Thanks, as always, for making my head hurt!

    Here’s a few questions for starters…I suspect I’ll be coming back:

    Why do so many “innovative” church plants look just the same as every other church when you scratch under the surface?

    Why is it so hard for missional leaders to break free from an understanding of church that revolves around Sunday’s, buildings, and services?

  4. Alex Avatar

    sam, yes. in fact, you don’t even have scratech the surface…all “innovative” churches look exactly alike even on the surface.

    sam, let’s make sure voxtropolis and the IMN advocates and creates new possibilities.

  5. Sam. Avatar

    I forwarded your blog post to a few our guys and Isaac just emailed me back the following which I thought I’d add to the discussion:

    I have to say, ive thought about the top one quite allot. if genetical engineering ever advanced so much that they could keep the appearance, health and mobility of a 25 year old forever, and never die – simply by taking a pill. would you take that pill?

    it would be a real test of faith wouldnt it.

    am i willing to die for no reason while everybody else lives happilly forever after, believing that death is instead the begining of perfect life and vitality with God.

    would ppl think u were insane for not taking the pill, how would you plead your case to everyone else in the world, who is and has taking/taken that pill. i guess thats the question of what shape the gospel will take? man, good question and a tough cookie to think about!!!!

  6. Alex Avatar

    sam, isaac seems to be my kind of crazy.

  7. Deana Avatar

    wow…i see where erica gets her thinking from! 🙂

    “What do I have to be able to do to live in London? And make it possible for my friends to move there with me? Boston? Miami?”

    If you figure that one out let us know! We’re working on it from our end..lots of preparing is going on in our house, with that goal in mind.

    This one was the one that caught my attention the most:
    “If the sweetest, most authentic moments for a church plant are the momentum building, evangelism, laughter and community that occur before the doors are open for an official launch, why ever, ever open the doors?”

    I think as a group the church plant are looking forward to something big. I know in the church plants I’ve been a part of it seems new people come before the official opening, and become a part of that vision of something bigger too. I wondered at the last church plant we were a part of, if we had just been more patient, and let the group grow at it’s own pace without ever officially opening, would it still be around today?

    And if we had focused more on going outside of the meetings and being where the people are instead of focusing on bringing them in, would we still be together?

    Interesting thoughts. I’m with Sam…thanks for making my head hurt.

  8. Alex Avatar

    hey deana. ya, erica is an imaginative thinker and asks some profound questions. that’s one of the things i love about her, the questions she asks.

    interesting thoughts on the church plant. lots to think about there. we’re excited to see where God leads us all. regards to stsve.

  9. Matt Wiebe Avatar

    Dangerous questions. I especially appreciated the second one!

    Another question would be: why do I always have more questions than answers?

  10. Alex Avatar

    i also have more questions than answers too, mark. tomorrow’s questions are as dangerous or even more so.

  11. Sam. Avatar

    Has the future always been difficult or predict, or is it especially the case now?

  12. geoffreybaines Avatar

    Thanks for keeping up asking the questions, Alex. You continue to help me to see how a better future belongs to those willing to ask the questions.

    How do cows become sacred?

  13. Alex Avatar

    sam, here’s an important principle about the future(s). [1] the future(s) cannot be predicted in any age [2] because there is no ONE future. there are only futures [plural]. that’s the first of many things we can say about the future.

  14. Alex Avatar

    geoffrey, thanks. good question.

  15. Laurie Avatar

    Interesting about the robot waking up. I heard part of a discussion on the radio on preparing now for the future rights of robots, what will they be entitled to when they “wake”. Can they own property? Can they refuse to be on the bomb squad? Thinking of IRobot and Animatrix. Is this stuff already “written” and we’ll (humanity) just walk through it. Is that what the “image” in Revelation will be?
    Regarding “Sure monogamy seems to be the preferred marital relationship in scripture, but is polygamy always wrong and unbiblical?” It is in OUR house! 🙂

  16. Alex Avatar

    Laurie, lol. You made me laugh. Thank you!

    Here’s a quote from the March 7, 2007 BBC News:
    “The government plans to set ethical guidelines concerning the roles and functions of robots as robots are expected to develop strong intelligence in the near future,” the ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said.

    Here’s the intersting part. The government spoken about in the article is NOT the USA. It’s South Korea, “one of the world’s most hi-tech societies”. Change is coming and it’s not being driven en toto by the Americans. If only the terrorists who wish to keep the future from coming would realize that.

  17. Alex Avatar

    Now about the future, Laurie. The future(s) is not written, it is dynamic and plural. The are alternative futures always before us.

  18. kris Avatar

    here’s some of what I’ve been thinking about (my list is about as long as yours):

    • Christians admit God is within us fully and completely, yet why is no one encouraged to worship the God Within?

    • Why are Christians so afraid of the world?

    •Do we know God because His Spirit is in us or because how much Bible we know or don’t know.

  19. […] McManus is asking some tough, important questions: HERE and HERE. Some of the questions are immediately relevant to the conversation of faith in […]

  20. Mike Avatar


    There seems to be a ton of other comments since I posted my original one. I suppose a c

    ouple of my other questions on that particular topic would be: What is being assumed, rather than discussed from the Scriptures on the doctrines that are involved in what is typically called “Calvinism”?

    Are you confusing “hyper-Calvinism” with a biblically balanced reformed view?

    I guess I don’t expect us to really dive into all this in the comments section, but that is the answer to your question.

    Thanks Alex!

  21. Alex Avatar

    hey Mike,

    you may be right. i may be confusing the two.

    i’m mostly addressing the portrait of God that envisions Him condemning all and then predetermining who will remain condemned and who will be saved. calvinism may be the wrong technical/historical handle, but it is the label generally associated with views that tend in that direction.

    i know reformed thinkers that do not advocate a double edged predeterminism. thanks for the reminder.

    when so many great minds (Luther for one, I understand) are possessed by the idea that man has no free will, it is risky to suggest otherwise. i juxtaposed universalism (God saves all) and Prederminism (God condemns some and saves some) because they are the same view of reality with regard to man’s free will. They both assert that all decisions are made by God in eternity. however, in the back of my mind, i’m also having a conversation with today’s scientific prederminism that speaks of an unbreakable sequence of cause and effect. [HT: Barzun, Dawn to Decadence]. It is my understanding that this is the working assumption of anyone working in a lab: There is no free will. This spills over today in the social view that criminal is not responsible for his actions because he is “conditioned”. In other words, he has not received “grace”. [Barzun]

    To me this scientific predetermimism, universalism, and “calvinism” [for lack of another term], all point in the same direction. Are the static processes in the three views above undermined by John 3.16? Does not the phrase, “…that who so ever believes…,” suggest that man’s salvation is more than the automatic effect of a prior cause? [Emphasis on “automatic”]. Does it suggest that man is a willful actor in history?

    thanks, Mike. i’m sitting here in Florida with a cup of coffee and a bowl of prunes and much enjoying the opportunity to think as I write. i consider this a devotional exercise. Thanks for the input.

  22. Mike Avatar

    I think a discussion on ‘free will’ would be great. What are the bounds of this as set forth by God–obviously not omnipotently free, so there must be boundaries.

    As for John 3:16, I think it affirms a couple of things: First, that it is indeed the ‘cosmos’ and God’s cosmic plan of redemption that is in view. It wasn’t just people, but the whole of his creation that groans for redemption. Beyond that, the phrase ‘whosoever believes’ could probably be used on either side of the predestination coin, since the question isn’t about whether someone believing will be saved, but ‘who will believe?’

    Well–I typed this shortly after some frosted mini-wheats in gloomy michigan but still enjoyed it.

  23. Alex Avatar


    agree about the boundaries. is God even free without boundaries?
    totally agree that God’s cosmic plan is in view here.
    is the question here really, “who will believe”? wouldn’t this insert a predeterministic understanding into a phrase that seems to point the other way? the statement is that “…who ever believes…” and this 1] gives rise to the question that threatens to undermine predeterminism and the portrait of God that predeterminism draws and 2] points to the possibility that man’s salvation/condemnation is not automatic.

  24. […] under God , Church , Christianity  inspired by my brother, who was inspired by Alex McManus. I have come up with a list of tough questions I have in my head. Not all of them have answer, not […]

  25. […] Click here to see what Alex McManus is thinking about. […]

  26. […] of approach that is though-provoking and challenging. inspired by my brother, who was inspired by Alex McManus. I have come up with a list of tough questions I have in my head. Not all of them have answers, not […]

  27. Matthew Avatar

    Just as an interjection concerning free will: I don’t think Luther denies free will in a Calvinist sense. He said the will is in bondage to sin. There is a difference in a sin bound will and the hard deterministic view of free will that we typically find with hyper-Calvinists.

    I’ll take Luther’s view with a prevenient grace chaser 😛

  28. Alex Avatar

    Thanks, Matt. How would you describe the difference?

  29. Bill Avatar


    Hey, how you been. Lots of interesting questions, since I have no memory I can only remember the last one …and here’s a comment (not an answer)… I don’t know what word Jesus actually said, but “nation” meant something when he said it than most people seem to inerpret it. Nation was not, at that time, linked to a territory or a state like is in the modern world. It meant something much closer to “people group” and since Jesus’ disciples lived in a multi-ethnic empire near the crossroads of three continents, there is no conflict between “make disciples of all nations” and “make disciples of your neighbors”.

  30. […] “Why does it seem that all the most “successful” pastors in America are either CEO’s, TV stars or celebrities, but in China they are scarred apostles?” Alex McManus Blog […]

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