In Static, Ron Martoia pushes us to reconsider words like gospel, repentance, and salvation in light of the biblical data. “We think we know what it means so we apply that assumption to the text rather than allowing the text itself to inform our understanding of the word.”
He knows how scary this can be. He speaks of a group of people he addressed who began to discover that “the story they had been telling, the definitions they had been using, and the invitations they had been issuing would all need reconsideration.”
They had already concluded that the practical and extrabiblical things they were currently doing weren’t working. So they had been hoping to find some new program “fixes” to help them along. Little did they expect a rereading of the Bible to bring them to a place of new ideas and understanding. New programs generally aren’t too threatening; new ideas often are. Paradigm shifts are often disturbing, but they can also be exhilarating.
For many of us, this means that we come to the Bible to learn, willing to surrender our cherished assumptions. Ron quotes one person who said, “It is about my ability to remain open to even hear the Bible, instead of believing I have already heard the Bible.” Ron says, “You can’t hear when you think you have already heard.”
A couple of thoughts:
I think Ron’s right that real change isn’t going to come from new program fixes. They are going to be more theological. Books like Static push us to examine the right issues. Understanding the gospel and repentance is exactly what will lead to real change.
But we’re scared. One of my seminary professors often chuckled that despite our professed belief in the authority of Scripture, we are pretty scared to let Scripture speak for itself when it challenges some of our preconceptions.
I’m more and more convinced that the future lies not in better programs and methods, but in getting the big things right in our theology and living them.
(more to come on Static)