Sometimes the seemingly unrelated strands of my life seem to come together and make a little sense. I am pastor of a traditional church and (mostly) love it. Yet I am sympathetic to some of the yearnings of younger evangelicals who feel like we’ve settled for a truncated gospel. I’m also in the very last stages of a D.Min. and chose a topic that’s essentially about shaping our lives around a God-centered message rather than a human-centered one. And sometimes that all comes together and makes sense. I felt that way as I read the last chapter of Ron Martoia’s book Static. Having known Ron for some years now, and having compared him at one time to Jordon Cooper on steroids, I enjoy interacting with Ron and what he’s been thinking about. Especially when it’s about something as important as the gospel. Ron writes:
I realize that when we remove the abbreviated and skewed version of God’s story from our minds, we all feel like we’re floundering a bit. But what we have in its place is a much fuller and richer story, a far more beautiful, elegant, and powerful story we can invite people into. For so long we have communicated things with such static…We have made unclear what should be crystal clear.
This story can’t be reduced to a few bullet points or a quick soundbite, at least not without losing a lot:
What we have…is the wild and woolly complete story of God, as recorded in the Bible. The story tells us about who God is and how he relates to real, often complex, people in a variety of different circumstances. It’s a complex story because it’s a real story about a real God. It can’t be stripped down, reprocessed, repackaged, and served to us with fries on the side. It’s a multicourse dinner at Outback that we spend time to enjoy–not a McDonald’s Value Meal we gulp down in minutes.
Ron says that people generally know deep down that the “complexities of life can’t fit on a single crumpled-up napkin. Believe me, I’ve tried that approach.” It’s about much more than a formula. The hardest part about moving to the fuller and richer version of the story is that it involves questioning some of our cherished assumptions that we’ve read into the story, but aren’t really there. It involves refusing to “add material to the text so that it will say what [we] want it to say.” Ron writes:
It’s time we let the New Testament stand on its own. The writers don’t need our help, and God certainly doesn’t. When we let go of our fetish for control and certainty, we will be able to say that the biblical story is multilayered, ambiguous at times, and even sometimes paradoxical, but it must be allowed to speak.
You likely won’t agree with everything in Static, but that’s okay. It will push you to wrestle with the biblical text and understand the story of God in new and more accurate ways. It’s actually good if you wrestle with what he’s writing rather than just accepting it. For those of us who are longing for more than the abbreviated and skewed version of God’s story, Static is an important book. I’m glad that Ron wrote it.