The mission : to find a book explaining Christian belief which makes the least bit of sense. Second attempt : Basic Christianity by John Stott *** The foreword of this tells me there are few landmark books that everyone in the world should read "this is one of the few". The whole idea of God is assumed God as eternal, God as good and for Christians, God as personal. The entire assertion "God sent his only-begotten son" needs to be explained piece by piece God needs to be explained letter by letter me and the Christians need to start way way way further back to have any chance of understanding each other you can't assume I know what you mean when you say these words. For instance : The Bible reveals a God who, long before it even occurs to men and women to turn to him, while they are still lost in darkness and sunk in sin, takes the initiative, rises from his throne, lays aside his glory, and stoops to seek until he finds them. The thing about this stuff is that without careful explanation I have no idea what in the above quote is supposted to be literal and what is metaphorical. John Stott says : Our chief claim to nobility as human beings is that we were made in the image of God and are therefore capable of knowing him. John Stott is saying that Christianity is a project by God. He created humanity and gave us the free will to sin and guess what, we sin all day long, day in, day out. What did you expect, God?) Okay, you and me might say well, come on, John, I'm really too old to be sinning much these days, and he says no, even you goodreads reviewers are vile sinful wretches, because there is positive sin where you DO something which is wrong, like murder or invade a sovereign country or swindle millions, and it's reasonable for you to say that you haven't done any of those things lately, but then there's negative sin, which is where you haven't done something you should have done, and that's where we GETCHA!! Yes, there's a lot of this kind of thing in chapter five all right. John Stott is on much firmer ground when he talks about the collective action of humanity, but he only mentions this in asides. So human waywardness and selfishness - sin, if you like - is real all right. So, okay, let's go with humanity's sin. Stott hammers home that the way God reconciles us with him & frees us (individually, conditionally) from sin is via the sacrifice of Jesus, the Crucifixion. Stott says that Christ demonstrated total non-resistance, complete passivity in the face of authority. If non-Christians persecute you for your belief, do not resist. As soon as Jesus appears, John the Baptist identifies him as a human sacrifice : "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." So apparently, according to Stott who gets it all from St Paul, when Jesus was on the cross The accumulated sins from the whole of human history were laid upon him He made them his own. He tasted the agony of a soul alienated from God. Bearing our sins, he died our death. Stott winds up with an account of what it means to be a Christian, which reminds me of the old Byrds country song : My buddies tell me that I should have waited They say I'm missing a whole world of fun But I still love them and I say with pride I like the Christian life I won't lose a friend by heeding God's call For what is a friend who'd want you to fall Others find pleasures in things I despise I like the Christian life Well, Basic Christianity is written without the paternalistic smugness of C S Lewis' Mere Christianity, but I really feel it might possibly have been a half-way decent account if a non-Christian had been along for the ride, interrogating John Stott a little more thoroughly than he interrogates himself.
I would definitely not give this book to a non-believer, as I think it's more of a book for a person who's coming close to accepting Christ or who already has and is looking to strengthen his relationship.
113) So many times in my ministry, I have tried to provide guidance for people who were certain that they needed to accomplish some great work for God (as compensation for past failures? Most follow well-trod ground, but Stott proffered indirect evidence by pointing out the distinction between Christ and human mystics (pp. We dont see that in Jesus Christ, the One who is closest to God doesnt react like the list of those who try to hide or fall to the ground in Gods proximity (ie. 96-97: man hath sinned and God hath suffered; God hath made himself the sin of men, and that men are made the righteousness of God. Stott builds on that to explain the work of Christ as: There is healing through his wounds, life through his death, pardon through his pain, salvation through his suffering. 97) But when I earlier typed about agreeing on almost every point, I must share my reasoning lest one think I am against Basic Christianity. Although Stott assembles some valid observations about evidence for Christs divinity, it seems like he goes overboard in interpreting the verb which describes the condition of the graveclothes after the resurrection. Stott gives great significance to what is translated in John 20:7 as: wrapped together in a place by itself (Geneva Bible, 1599), was tied, not laid by the linens, but aside (in original, das Haupt gebunden war, nicht zu den Leinen gelegt, sondern beiseits,--Luthers Biblemid 16th century), rolled up by itself, a little way apart (J.B. Phillips translation, 1960), folded up in a separate place (Holman Christian Standard Bible), rolled up in a place by itself, or wrapped together in a place by itself. He is right that God takes the initiative in reaching out to humanity, but using this verse and building so much on it is questionable and doesnt take the canonical context seriously.
They tell us that the religion of the Bible is a religion of the initiative of God. Premise/plot: Basic Christianity by John Stott is a Christian classic for a reason: it is GOOD. No, Stott touches briefly on how to live the Christian life, what happens after 'you ask Jesus into your heart.' My thoughts: I thought this was a GREAT book for the most part. He is always there 'in the beginning.' Before man existed, God acted. John Stott The Gospel is not primarily an invitation to man to do anything; it is supremely a declaration of what God has done in Christ for human beings like ourselves. John Stott Christianity is a religion of salvation, and there is nothing in the non-Christian religions to compare with this message of a God who loved, and came after, and died for, a world of lost sinners. John Stott Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference. John Stott The most striking feature of the teaching of Jesus is that he was constantly talking about himself. John Stott In order to appreciate the work which Jesus accomplished, we must understand who we are as well as who he was. John Stott Whenever our behavior is inconsistent with our belief, or our practice contradicts our preaching, we take God's name in vain. John Stott All that was achieved through the death of Jesus on the cross had its origin in the mind and heart of the eternal God. No explanation of Christ's death or man's salvation which fails to do justice to this fact is loyal to the teaching of the Bible. John Stott He died to atone for our sins for the simple reason that we cannot atone for them ourselves. John Stott Every Christian can echo these words. John Stott Every day the Christian is to die.
And so that's how I came to own a book like Basic Christianity (I have other religious books, including classics of Christian thought, but that's more about understanding the history of Western ideas than anything else). It's an interesting book because it emphasizes the acknowledged goods of Christian thought (the primacy of concepts like love, forgiveness, and charity), and openly acknowledges that the Christian community at large has just a big a history of hypocrisy and willful blindness as the rest of us.
Whether in the West or in the Two-Thirds World, a hallmark of Stott's ministry has been expository preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women.