There’s an old theological question that has been asked over the centuries: “What was God doing before he created the world?” There have been several answers put forth. Probably the most helpful answer is “He was loving.” The Christian religion teaches that God is a Holy Trinity: There are three persons: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit; and yet, mysteriously, only One God.

This is impossible to comprehend–it’s embraced by faith. Impossible to comprehend–yet beautiful. The plurality of persons in the Godhead makes it easier for us to say that “God is love.” The Father has been loving the Son, and the Son has been loving the Father; The Holy Spirit is the person of shared love between them–for eternity. God was loving before he created creatures to love.

Another answer that has been given to the above question is a snarky warning for us to be careful when we ask questions that the Bible doesn’t address. Of course it’s okay for us to ask questions the Bible doesn’t raise or answer, but it has to be done in a respectful manner. Being a person of faith means that we don’t have a “Prove it to me!” kind of attitude. We have to remember that God is God and we are His creatures. He doesn’t answer to us–we answer to Him. He’s kind and patient with our questions, and he graciously answers many of them. But not all of them.

As a Pastor and as a Father I encourage questions. A big part of my job is dedicated to helping people see that there is a treasure trove in Holy Scripture, and in the Christian faith–tremendous resources for our deepest questions. And yet, it’s also part of my job to help people see that, at the end of the day, we’re sailing on water that is far deeper than our ability to explore. Here, we embrace mystery, keep silence, and humbly adore our Creator. When our questions turn to presumptions they must be checked by His Majesty.

Here’s Luther in his punchy way making a similar point with a similar question:

When one asked, where God was before heaven was created? St. Augustine answered: He was in himself. When another asked me the same question, I said: He was building hell for such idle, presumptuous, fluttering and inquisitive spirits as you.

Martin Luther, The Table Talk of Doctor Martin Luther, 38.

If that seems overly harsh, keep in mind that Luther was known for his bombast. He deliberately used a provoking style to make people think. There’s also very high chance that this line was delivered with laughter, and was received with laughter. This is his “Table Talk”–things he literally said around his dining table enjoying hearty meals with guests in his home. And yet, the warning is still there.

So, I say ask away! The Lord encourages your questions. He also lovingly encourages us to remember our place as His creatures.