Archive for 'Christian Life'
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 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. 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 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?
Posted on 06. Jan, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
The most offensive stance you can take today is to believe that you are a part of a spiritually militant band of warriors. Many today believe that all of that noisy, sweaty, battle rhetoric was brought to a sudden halt by the violence of the cross. This view interprets the death of Jesus as this massive back fire that burned off everything that fueled spiritual conflict. Any residual warfare rhetoric that emphasizes dueling antagonists is antiquated or destructive. The problem? That is precisely how Jesus, the apostles and church fathers (and mothers) taught us to talk.
Posted on 05. Jul, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
There are certains Psalms called the Imprecatory Psalms because they are filled with prayers of curses on wicked oppressors. I am tempted to run as far as I can from them. I wish they weren’t included in the Bible. They are so utterly Medieval and Inquisitorial. But it is their intolerable harshness that arrests me and drags me back. And it makes me wonder whether I am the one in need of change not the Psalms.
Posted on 17. Jun, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
By choosing to follow Jesus (”take up the cross”) we joined a long train of faithful disciples who accepted the shame of the cross and drank the bitter cup, like their Master, to the dregs. The symbol of the cross points us to the reality that this battle we are in will cost us our lives one way or the other. And we are called to die, daily, and that, at least, means we must lay our lives down, like Jesus did, for life of the world. We do not take life–we give ours, freely, as our Lord did.
Posted on 17. Jun, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
The encouragement by many current teachers to fearless engage in the world is laudable. It is a necessary corrective to the fundamentalist tendency to flee from or demonize culture. However, I think it is not very helpful to teach that we are to feel at home, “safe” in this world; i.e. that true holiness reduces the Christian’s tension in and with the world. According to the NT, our primary identity with regards to the world remains “stranger”, “alien. We are still to be in the world but not of the world. That very biblical and very healthy tension is essential and should not to be lessened or sneered at, even if it is done ever so ironically.