Not Quite Middle Ground

The God Who Smokes, Scandalous Meditations on Faith by Timothy J. Stoner is a good book, perhaps very good. But it's not the book the subtitle and back cover copy advertise.

The book is written in a conversational, story-telling style, consistent with the author's stated goal of finding a middle ground between emergent theology and more conventional theology. The author's background and story is compelling, perhaps the best parts of the book for this reader. The people he cites (Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis, Augustine, Chesterton, Sayers, and more) are always apt and compelling. But as I read, I couldn't escape the sensation that here was no new, insightful, middle ground. I found nothing scandalous in his meditations on faith. I sometimes lost sight of the point he might be trying to make. And I consistently suspected that this would feel like middle ground only to those who have a highly fragmentary view of emergent theology.

In any case, The God Who Smokes is highly readable and could be helpful to those who want, not a middle ground between emergent theology and conventional theology, but a solidly biblical, evangelical vision of God and faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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