Warner's TheoBlog

Thoughts from a disciple who writes


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I don’t want balance… I want Truth

It is always great to receive comments following a blog post. Keep them coming readers!

After a recent post, where I offered some suggestions about useful web resources for theology, I received a comment from a friend who offered me some alternative sites with some theological views that were different to the ones I had offered. I would summarise them by saying that they were less Reformed and more Post-evangelical. He suggested that they might offer some balance to the sites that I had suggested and give people some alternative ideas. This got me to thinking…

Do I want balance on this blog?

I did have a look at the sites and they were very interesting. But I did not particularly agree with the theological perspective from which they were written.

This is not, in itself, a problem. If a person is a mature Christian and interested in theology, then there is nothing to fear from reading ideas and opinions that are different from their own. In fact, it can be both healthy and educational.

When I was studying theology I looked at many ideas that were properly opposed to my own theology. I had severe concerns about the writings of Fredrik Schleiermacher, Rudolf Bultmann and John Spong, who were on my reading list. There are also whole swathes of the works of Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and Karl Barth that cause me some trouble. In honesty, even now, there are certain things that Mark Driscoll teaches (who I recommended in my previous blog) that I am not sure I agree with.

But that is OK. People do not need to agree with me to be saved. They need to believe in Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life. If it were up to me, Bolton Wanderers supporters would not get into heaven and anyone who thought computer games were a waste of time would be dancing on the edge of heresy.

One of the things that Mark Driscoll teaches, which I have found incredibly useful, is that idea of Closed and Open handed issues. Mark says that the closed handed issues of theology are those for which one would face death to uphold. Among these would be the divinity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith, the Sovereignty of God, the Trinity and so on. The open handed issues are those which, were an agent of evil to hold a gun to my head, claiming that they will pull the trigger if I did not back down, I would back down. One of these, for me, might be 6-day creation. I am in no doubt that God Created the heavens and the earth, but I am not really sure I would take a bullet over whether he did it in a literal 6 days or a metaphorical 6 days. (I am sorry if this offends you, dear reader).

As far as I am concerned, on the closed handed issues, I do not want balance, I want truth. On the open handed issues, I am open to discussion.

This Blog is my own work and my own ideas. I am concerned less with balance, and more with expression of what is bubbling up inside of me. There are aspects to it that people might not agree with and that is OK. If you believe that Jesus is Lord and have accepted Him as your saviour, then I am happy. You might be wrong on some things, but that is the most important one and the rest we can discuss (vigorously if necessary).

In our society, it is not acceptable to say that someone is wrong. It is believed by the majority of people that, as long as a person’s belief does not hurt anyone else, they have a right to hold that belief and that it is ‘true for them’. This is a travesty of truth. If a person is wrong, then they are wrong. There is nothing wrong in my pointing it out to them, or their pointing it out to me. It is what one does to that person when they are wrong that matters.

You might be wrong… but I promise not to burn you at the stake or hand you over to the inquisition. I hope that you will offer me the same respect. I don’t want balance, I want truth! But I don’t need to stone people when they disagree with me.

It comes down to this…

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15-16)

It is not about being right; it is about how we treat people when they are wrong.

I hope that this does not read as too much of a ramble and I would be fascinated to have people’s thoughts on this subject. I look forward to your replies.


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A few fab ‘feologians’ to find and follow

In this digital age we have access to fantastic resources. Whilst there is some discernment needed, for the first time in history it is no long necessary to travel across the world to hear the best Christian preachers that are available. With the Internet we can read and listen to the best and most interesting Christian thinkers in the world, as well as find lesser-known gems who would never have found the publicity necessary for recognition outside of their own church before the advent of the web.

We also have access to commonly available resources that allow us to not simply listen to the people who influence our faith and thinking, but communicate with them directly. Twitter, Facebook and all the rest have opened lines of communication that have never before been accessible to you and I, the ordinary believers.

I realise that there are dangers involved with unfettered and unedited teaching, but the opportunities are staggering.

Below are just a few that I have found (I will probably share others in future blogs). I would encourage you to follow the links to their pages and Twitter feeds. You may not enjoy them as much as I do, but they are certainly worth a look. Interacting with these people has helped my faith grow, challenged my assumptions and helped my walk with Jesus to mature (which is, after all, much of the point of theology).

Mark Driscoll

Mark is the Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. The resources that Mars Hill put out are amongst the best I have ever found, especially the sermon podcasts that are available on iTunes. I would encourage anyone who had dead air time because they spend long periods in the car or travelling between meetings to download this remarkable preachers sermons and listen whilst they walk.

What is most impressive is that all of Mars Hill’s resources are available for free! They ask for a donation in line with one’s appreciation and my wife and I have made a donation or two over the years.

I would add that Mark’s style is often quite confrontational and shouty, but the things he says and the attention he gives to the Word of God are brilliant. What a blessing he and his church have been to my family and I, as well as to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Web: www.marshill.com Twitter: @PastorMark

Desiring God

Pastor John Piper is one of the most thoughtful and wise men of the Word of God that I have ever had the privilege to read and hear. The Website at www.desiringgod.org is a resource based on his gargantuan output and there is all sorts of stuff that is worth looking at. He is not a theologian who sits in an ivory tower but one who asks the amazingly important question, “What does the Bible mean in the face of the reality of everyday life?” The site also has other contributors who are equally worthwhile reading and hearing.

I would encourage everyone to take a little time to explore the website, listen to a few of the podcasts and read a few articles. To have the ability to invite a Pastor of John’s wisdom into your home is a tremendous privilege.

Web: www.desiringgod.org Twitter: @JohnPiper

Andrew Wilson

I read Andrew’s book, Incomparable, a few years ago and I have just found him online in the last year whilst I have been concentrating on my own writing. He is much closer to home for me (since I am in the UK) and an excellent apologist and deep thinker. Recently he appeared on Justin Brierley’s show on Premier Radio, discussing Rob Bell’s new book and theology with Rob Bell himself (good listening). I will meet him one of these days, but in the meantime I follow him on twitter and really appreciate his tweets (@AJWTheology).

Andrew is also a major contributor to the excellent ‘Theology Matters’ website (www.thinktheology.co.uk) where lots of different pastors and elders write articles relating to all sorts of issues that effect Christians, as well as offering apologetics relating to challenges and teaching from many different quarters.

Website: www.thinktheology.co.uk Twitter: @AJWTheology

Adrian Warnock

Again in the UK, Adrian Warnock is a blogger who has a very large following and writes very interesting articles relating to Christian faith in the real world. His recent focus has been on mental health and faith has been very helpful and insightful. Adrian also has links to some very interesting theologians and teachers who feature on his site under the ‘Interview’ menu.

Adrian is a thinker for whom I have great respect. He is also an occasional guest on Premier Radio and author of a very worthwhile book on the resurrection of Jesus called Raised with Christ.

Website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Twitter: @adrianwarnock