“Don’t Mess with My Tinkertoys!”

TinkertoysDo you remember Tinkertoys, that set of wooden sticks and spools you could build things with, wonderful things as tall as you were when you were a kid? I talked about Tinkertoys at church last Sunday, when I facilitated a question-and-answer session following Art Wright’s three-week lecture on “Heaven, Hell, and the Afterlife.”

I talked about how all people build a “framework of understanding” to make sense of their experience. If you step outside and a bird flies past you say, “That’s right; birds fly,” and you hang that experience on your framework of understanding (this is where I always picture a Tinkertoy framework, with experiences hanging from it like Christmas tree ornaments). But if you step outside and a cat flies past you’ve got a problem; there is nowhere on your framework of understanding to hang that experience. You have to decide: “Did that really happen? Did a cat really fly past? Or did someone throw a cat across my field of vision? Or am I hallucinating?”

Birds? No problem. Cats? Big problem.

I said, “You’ve spent your whole life building and re-building your framework of understanding and it’s precious to you. You don’t want anybody to mess with it. But somewhere in there is your understanding of heaven, hell, and the afterlife, and I get the feeling that for some of you Art Wright’s lecture was troubling, that some part of it messed with your Tinkertoys.”

I saw heads nodding around the room.

That led into an interesting exchange about what we use to build our frameworks of understanding in the first place, and we acknowledged that much of what we have heard about heaven, hell, and the afterlife comes from books, movies, songs, and popular theology. Not all of it is authoritative. For believers, the Bible is authoritative; it’s that one source we can gather around and study together with general agreement that what’s in there is true.

My guess is that much of what Art Wright was teaching in his three-week lecture was biblical. He is a New Testament professor, after all, which means that he’s spent a good bit of time studying the actual text of the New Testament. I’ve done that myself, and I’m often surprised by what’s not in there as well as by what is. Sometimes it “messes with my Tinkertoys,” and forces me to rebuild some part of my framework of understanding.

I don’t like that.

My framework of understanding is precious to me. But it’s more important to me that it be right than that it be easy, and Scripture is the best way to ensure that. It is, in almost every way, the “blueprint” by which my framework must be built.

And I mean all of scripture: not just the parts I like.

Sharon Parks has a name for that framework of understanding: she calls it “faith.” I think that’s a good name for it, and even though there are ways to build frameworks of understanding that don’t include God, those are not ways I’m interested in. I want to build a distinctively Christian faith, one with Jesus right at the center of it. As far as heaven, hell, and the afterlife are concerned, I’m content to follow him. If I can trust Scripture on this (and I think I can), the Way that he is is the Way that leads to life abundant, overflowing, and everlasting.

Why would I follow anyone else?

2 thoughts on ““Don’t Mess with My Tinkertoys!”

  1. DID THE APOSTLE PAUL RECOGNIZE CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS? BY STEVE FINNELL

    Did the apostle Paul acknowledge the concept of Christian denominations? No, he did not. Denomination are created so Bible doctrine can be altered to meet the opinions of men.

    Romans 16:16 ……All the churches of Christ greet you.(NASB)

    The apostles Paul did not say all the churches of Judaizers greet you.— Galatians 2:4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who has sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. (NASB)

    The apostle Paul did not say all the churches of The No Resurrection of The Dead greet you.—1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (NASB)

    The apostle Paul did not say all the churches of Rebellious Men and Empty Talkers greet you. —Titus 1:10-11 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. (NASB)

    The apostle Paul did not say all the churches of Hymenaeus and Philetus greet you.—2 Timothy 2:17-18 …..Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. (NASB)

    The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Shipwrecked Faith greet you.—1 Timothy 19-20 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. (NASB)

    The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Worldly and Empty Chatter greet you. —1 Timothy 6:20-21 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”—21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith….(NASB)

    The apostles Paul did not say the churches of Savage Wolves greet you.—Acts 20:29-30 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things , to draw away the disciples after them. (NASB)

    The apostle Paul did not say the Angels of Light churches greet you.— 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.(NASB).

    The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Catholics greet you.

    The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Methodists greet you.

    The apostles Paul did not say the churches of the Communities greet you.

    The apostle Paul did not say the churches of The Salvation Army greet you.

    The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Calvinists greet you.

    The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Baptists greet you.

    The apostles Paul did not say the churches of Pentecostal greet you.

    The apostle Paul did not say the churches of The Latter Day Saints greet you.

    There is only one body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:1-16)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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