Archive for 'Christianity'
Posted on 11. Apr, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
A friend asked me a question about my disagreement with Love Wins. I have to admit it kind of rankled me. It implied fear, inadequacy or inferiority. So, yes, it stung my pride. Though it had a bite to it, it forced me to uncover the motivation for my negative response to Rob’s core message. And in doing so I had to confront the masks we wear: misdirected love, reactionary love and, more to the point, a cold and careless apathy hiding behind proclamations of love.
Posted on 24. Mar, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
Recently, a thoughtful young man asked a question that jarred me. This was how the question was posed: “What’s so special about the moment of death that it suddenly cuts off the availability of God’s grace?” I had no good anwer until I happened to read through the story of the encounter between Jesus and a demonized Jewish synagogue attendee. What he screams at Jesus wipes off any ironic, postmodern smirk and reveals a lot about the irrevocable line between life and death.
Posted on 19. Mar, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
Something has been steadily seeping out of our discourse over several decades–the gripping awareness of God’s majesty. It is in this generation that the resultant lightness of God’s being is becoming impossible to ignore. There was a time when men and women lived in a world drenched with God, they blazed with a white-hot devotion. As I read Love Wins I was compelled to pick up a book by such a man: Knowledge of the Holy. It shows us why where there is no doxology Hell makes no sense.
Posted on 17. Mar, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
In Love Wins Bell is launching a serious critique against belief in the conscious, eternal torment of those who reject Christ. Now, the really bad news hidden beneath Bell’s sympathetic and generous dismissal of the church’s historic teaching is that it drives all evil and suffering, as well as catastophes like those in Japan, completely outside the providence of God. A good God who is too good to condemn to an eternal Hell is incapable of having anything to do with the major traumas of our life, except to (after the fact) put a kindly but impotent hand on our shoulder and sympathize with our pain. This good-natured, frustrated bystander to suffering can offer us no real hope or comfort at all.
Posted on 12. Feb, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
A Walk to Remember is a heartbreakingly romantic book. In it the protagonist, now in his late 50’s, remembers a walk that he has never been able to forget. In my fundamentalist tradition the walk we were never to forget was that one we took during the “altar call.” It would serve as the reminder of the iron-clad guarantee of our eternal security. However, Hebrews disabuses us of all notions that our confidence is in a brief stroll in the past. Instead the picture is that of a grueling race in which victory is not at all certain. There is great danger of falling short, falling away, or falling down. Thanks to a sermon by David Platt on the Rich Man and Lazarus, I am wondering whether I am in danger of doing all three.
Posted on 22. Jan, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
In Generous Justice Timothy Keller does something almost impossible: he wrestles a golden calf off its marble pedestal while keeping the conservative reader from pushing the eject button. The argument he makes is that caring for the widow, orphans, immigrants and the poor is not an option, it is a duty—it is a necessary act of love. Starkly: choosing not to sacrifically serve those in need is not stinginess but “an offense against God”. And most starkly of all: refusing to “do justice” means we have not been truly saved. He does this gently, but for those with ears to hear Dr. Keller has issued a prophetic pronouncement that will rock the boat and hopefully the world.
Posted on 03. Jan, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
Leaders in the church are “entrusted” with something infinitely valuable: the Gospel which is to be guarded and applied to men’s consciences. Standing by as this deposit of truth is pillaged by false teachers (be they ever so winsome and cultured and kind), is to be guilty of criminal negligence. Failing to issue clear warnings and distinguish the holy and the profane is an actionable breach of trust. The consequences, at best, are being fired (as in “being saved as though by fire”), and at worse, becoming complicit in profaning God–if Ezekiel and St. Paul are to be believed.
Posted on 03. Jun, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
They asked me to deliver a serious charge about marriage. And after I was done and they had taken their vows they were going to be participating in the Eucharist as their first act together as husband and wife. So, I spoke to them about sacraments: about the transformative, communal, liturgical act they were engaged in and would be participating in–for the rest of their lives. I spoke about being a holy icon of the gospel for the whole world. And, since they wanted me to be serious and real, and I wanted them to be properly prepared for what was ahead, I charged them (especially the young husband-to-be) with the committment to die. Sacraments are costly and demanding things, after all.
Posted on 10. May, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Inclusivism posits that at the core of Jesus’ life and teachings is a simple, non-negotiable message of absolute love, tolerance, and acceptance. Any belief or practice that jeopardizes this message is to be rejected, even if it is stated clearly in the Bible, was practiced by the early church, and was taught and believed by nearly all Christians for 2,000 years–for example the church’s historic restriction of the priesthood to males. Egalitarianism, which is what this novel teaching is called, contends that Jesus dismantled all sexually-based role distinctions. It is premised on the desire to promote equality among all members of the body of Christ. It affirms the Western commitment to individual rights while dismissing the gloriously scandalous vocation that the Virgen Mary exemplified. It also unintentionally denigrates the humble beauty of submission and surrender that I saw incarnated in my own home by a supremely gifted wife and mother.
Posted on 13. Mar, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
The spiritual battle we find ourselves in is not only for the young. Conscription into this war is not age-based. The battle is joined when you lay down your rebellious weaponry and surrender to Jesus as Lord. At that point you are assigned new weapons which you are required to familiarize yourselves with and become proficient in. You will need them for the rest of your time on this earth. There are two in particular that we are assured are capable of defeating our terrible enemy, Satan–by their judicious use, he will be bested and finally overcome. But, they require us to imitate our Master’s life as well as His death.
Posted on 03. Feb, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Our Jewish forefathers had no difficulty identifying the opposition. They were the perverse Canaanites, the Gentile nations, cruel oppressors, unjust leaders, or lying and deceptive acquaintances bent on tearing them down to nothing. But, if C.S. Lewis is correct when he notes that “Christianity is a fighting religion”; if we wake up every morning on an actual battle field, in “enemy-occupied territory,” who or what do we fight against? Who is our enemy?