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The God Who Smokes answers the postmodern cry for an authentic, knowable truth that is compassionate and courageous, demonstrated in sacrificial commitment to a life of righteousness and justice.
Emergent theology is raising some of the most provocative and divisive questions in the church today. Filled with humorous insights and challenging ideas, The God Who Smokes imagines a twenty-first-century church where hope hangs with holiness, passion sits next to purity, and compassion can relate to character.
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The God Who Smokes
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The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on Faith by Timothy Stoner (I know, a book with such a provocative title such as the God who smokes by a guy named Stoner is a bit ironic!) does justice in highlighting positive aspects of the Emerging Church. At the same time, Stoner points out the dangers with points of theology that are slippery at best, heretical at worst.
These 'meditations on faith' combine humor, personal experiences and some of the most descriptive word pictures to speak to these issues. Stoner doesn't come across as negative or judgmental, but without a doubt spurns the notion that Jesus is 'a' path to heaven and other such emergent theological errors. Stoner has entered the post-modern dance and presents an amazing work that has the ability to dialogue with post-moderns and emergents while remaining true to the essential doctrine of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ.
An excellent (a bit long) look at some of the issues and vivid descriptions make this book an enjoyable read. It should no doubt provide examples one could use to dialogue with emergents while pointing to Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
9/22/2010 6:13:55 AM
The God Who Smokes by Timothy J. Stoner
Yes, the guy's name's funny. He admits it on the opening pages. Anyway, this book OS intended to be 'scandalous meditations in faith', particularly by trying to find middle ground between the emerging/emergent and fundamentalist evangelical movements. Stoner's chapters look at God's character and our response.
For a start, this is phenomenally well-written. Through personal stories and clever analogies it's impossible not to enjoy the communication style. The content's good too, biblically sound, logical and gracious.
That said, I struggle to put this in a box. With this title you don't expect orthodoxy, but that is what you get, albeit presented in a post-modern style. He clearly tries to get the emergent crowd on board by using the word 'crap' in the introduction, and quoting Rob Bell and Brian McLaren throughout, but he fundamentally disagrees with them both.
The problem with this book isn't the words, it's the cover. It doesn't really discover a new middle ground in Christianity, it just presents evangelicalism in a more Rob Bell style.
So, it gets plenty of thumbs up from me - I looked forward to reading it every day - but on this occasion you have to conclude that you can't judge a book by its cover!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
9/21/2010 1:37:14 AM
Lotta Smoke, Little Fire
Is there middle ground between the Emergent movement and Evangelical Christianity? Timothy Stoner thinks so in his book The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on Faith. While the book had a lot of truth in it, I found it difficult to follow at times. Was he defending the Emergent movement? Was he critiquing Evangelicalism? I couldn’t tell at times where he was standing on an issue.
He was certainly trying to write from an honest and raw perspective. Each chapter involves personal stories of heartache, blessings, hardships and successes. He certainly tries to place the focus on God and encourages us to refocus our lives on Christ.
He certainly addresses all sorts of issues, which are both a blessing and a curse for the book! I never felt any continuity between the subjects he was covering and couldn’t force myself to read every page. His writing is readable, but didn’t connect with me as much as I was hoping it would.
Would I recommend it? Probably. Will I read it again? Probably not.
There was nothing new in the book. I usually mark up books as I read, highlighting and taking notes, but at the end of this book I found nothing that was worth remembering.
2/23/2010 3:02:26 PM
Good answers to hard questions
This is a book which, once finished, needs to be started again at the beginning. Immensely readable, it’s also extremely relevant. And relevancy seems to be what many of us struggle with most, as we seek to carve a path through life.
Sometimes, if we are honest, the solid Christian truths we all know seem a little shaky. God seems remote from our lives, difficulties threaten to overwhelm and it all seems rather ‘wearisome’. Tim Stoner drags these thoughts and feelings out into the light, authenticates them with stories from his own experiences, and gives us a fresh look at our faith. He looks at the questions we all struggle with, pointing us always to the God of Scripture. You might not agree with everything he writes; yet ‘truth’ is never solid, certain and nicely packaged but often glimpsed from different angles. Tim Stoner gives us those glimpses of a ‘truth…that holds reality together; there is meaning and purpose’ and motivates us to keep on with The Way, as the Christian life was known in the early church.
So dive into this book. Find the God who IS in the earthquake, wind and fire. The God who smokes.
1/3/2010 3:11:24 AM
Navpress has always been one of my top publishing houses, I can always rely on them for producing some excellent books, both fiction and Non-Fiction. They've published some of my very favorite books.
The God who Smokes has only reaffirmed that statement. Stoner is one of the few middle ground speakers on the topic the Emergent Church. He addresses the more debatable things Rob Bell (pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, NOOMA dvds) brings up in his sermons, videos and books. I enjoy a lot of what Bell says, but other things he believes and states, I can't help but question. Stoner confronts those issues without attacking any person in particular or many of the good, sound theology to come from emergent pastors.
He discusses some of the hard issues in church today. He's not some Authoritative figure turning his nose up at these problems. He shares some very personal experiences, which are sincere and sometimes heartbreaking. He shares his thoughts on justice and righteousness, not just for the "pretty people" but for the ones who are hard to love, both for us as the individual, and us as the Church. It's written in a friendly, very accessible manner that allowed me to read it in days, never wanting to put it down. And that says a lot considering it's the holidays!
12/9/2009 2:22:08 AM
Book review - The God Who Smokes
I just finished reading The God Who Smokes by Timothy J. Stoner. Each chapter of the book contains autobiographical stories pointing to the bigger story Stoner calls the Great Epic. It is obvious he also enjoys the upheaval of Christian stereotypes. The humorous stories are from his childhood, marriage, fatherhood, career, and friendships. They are filled with the depth of biblical theological truth alongside a balanced, well thought out, honest critique of post-modern and Emergent ideas. He says, “Our accommodation to our culture’s insistence on a half-truth puts us in danger of declawing and domesticating the mighty King, whose presence made demons scream in terror and death flee in shame.”
This book is a balanced book finding good in both sides of divisive thinking. I learned that since “absolute certainty” is under major attack today, at the same time we should evaluate what we think about the God we have become comfortable with. It is true that at times I have felt that God does not follow the rules, lets us down, does not show grace or give advance warning when our loved ones and we need it. Those who take issue with postmodern thinking tend to have intellectual ideas about things that really only God knows.
While reading this book, make sure you read the endnotes that are worth the price of the book alone. He quotes favorites like Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis, and Augustine as well as current day writers in His research of modern questions and answers. So…..does God smoke? Yes, He does. “He is so full of passion and blazing emotion that He burns – and yes, smokes in the ferocity of His infinite holy love.” Not only does God smoke in His love, He smokes in His anger. If God turned away from sin, He would not be God. So indeed God smokes in rage and yet forgives extravagantly. I highly recommend this book.
11/24/2009 3:12:53 PM
Smoking Velvet Elvis
This was a fascinating read! After initially chuckling at a book about a smoking God by an author named Stoner, I found myself nodding in agreement throughout.
This book is a challenging analysis of much of the current wisdom making the rounds in the American church today. It is direct and blunt at times, and perhaps incorrect, but the thoughts are definitely worth engaging.
Tim Stoner has real, substantive problems with open theism and more than a few contemporary post-modern thinkers. Rob Bell and Brian McClaren are particular points of discussion. While there is much to argue in this book, I believe Stoner raises some excellent observations. While I do resonate much of post-modernism's concern for an authentic Christian faith in a freakishly changing world, like Stoner, I too bristle deeply at many of post-modernisms attempts to define it. Perhaps in our rush to repaint our Velvet Elvis portraits of Jesus, we are trashing more than a few DaVinci's.
Out of all chapters in the book, the one I recommend most highly is chapter four, entitled, "God Is An Earthquake." Some really rambunctious writing! God does not need spin doctors or marketing gurus - God is not in the business of allowing us to control Him. Perhaps we would all do well to remember that - Stoner does a good job helping us.
Kevin G Hanson
10/26/2009 4:16:41 PM
Deep and full bodied with aged undertones smoky aftertaste if not heeded
I wish I had the intellect to discuss deeply how this book touched me. McLaren left me a bit dizzy; Miller is great with personal stories and entertainment with a connection to truth...like a sitcom with no sex and morals that stand the test of time and scripture. Smoke was not that...and for that I am glad. Not that I won't enjoy the next Donald Miller, but Stoner made the truth so important and responsibility to it very compelling. Don't get me wrong, each chapter is engaging with a humorous story and then one leaves each chapter feeling that there is a choice to make...an important choice to step up to the plate, or to wallow in a shallow vanilla pond of temperance and political correctness. As well, it felt to me as it was being shared by a loving, understanding teacher telling me that how I lived, matters. My father was abusive and then left before my 10th birthday. While he is forgiven and in heaven, this book represents the direction many of us missed not having that Godly father figure there to steer as needed. I will pass it along to friends and read it again.
8/12/2008 10:44:00 AM
I thought this book was great! I picked it up at my University bookstore, and opted to buy it instead of the reading required by my class and professor. As a graduate student, I am often required to present on various topics, and I have found much value in incorporating various quotes and concepts from this book into my lectures. As a 20-something, I found it to be of incredible value in regards to my continuing search for Truth in the changing tides of Christian practices and beliefs in America. With the clash between post-modernism and modernism, this book provided a sane balance that helped me appreciate and meld the two paradigms together rather than feeling forced to adopt one at the expense of the other. I am so thankful! It helped me appreciate paradox in the context of God's nature: He is a lion AND a lamb; I don't have to cling to one or the other, but I get to revel in the oneness between them! Thank you, Timothy!
7/27/2008 2:49:00 PM
Good Book, yet some negatives
I must preface my entire statement by saying that I felt that this book was a good read. It challenged my theology and made me look at what I believed in a new light. He is a very articulate writer, and I definitely enjoyed that about him. I love the blessings at the ends of his chapters that challenge the reader. However, he seems combative at times in his talk about Rob Bell and his work "Velvet Elvis". Also, he makes some clear mistakes in his bible knowledge. On p. 76 Stoner says that God revealed himself to Abraham as the "I AM" when it was Moses that he revealed himself to as the "I AM" during the famous burning bush incident. He later attributes a quote to Solomon that is clearly from one of the prophets. It makes me question his deeper thoughts relating to the Bible and its original language if he can't get those things right after proofing the book before publication. Altogether, though, it is a good read, and a challenging book that I would recommend to others.
6/21/2008 2:27:00 AM
Good Book, yet some negatives
I must preface my entire statement by saying that I felt that this book was a good read. It challenged my theology and made me look at what I believed in a new light. He is a very articulate writer, and I definitely enjoyed that about him. I love the blessings at the ends of his chapters that challenge the reader.
6/21/2008 2:06:00 AM
Good book, yet some negatives.
I must preface my entire statement by saying that I felt that this book was a good read. It challenged my theology and made me look at what I believed in a new light. He is a very articulate writer, and I definitely enjoyed that about him.
6/21/2008 2:04:00 AM
A Must-Read for All Christians
I had picked up this book on a whim while intending to purchase a book questioning whether the church should engage in pop culture. When I saw the title of this book and the nature of the author's last name, however, I couldn't help but choose this book over the other. "The God Who Smokes" has quickly become my favourite book because Stoner refuses to acknowledge the deity of Christ as either a sappy sentimental full of grace and forgiveness nor as a roaring Lion soley bent on distributing his wrath and anger. He presents the deity as a fusion of both, as he should, because "at the deepest root of the idea of God's wrath (which fills the scriptures from beginning to end) is the reality that it is fundamentally an expression of passion from a wounded husband and a ferociously protective father. His wrath is about His love." - Timothy Stoner, "The God Who Smokes"
6/5/2008 7:56:00 PM