- Series: Chavasse Lectures in World Mission
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: IVP Books (January 1, 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0877844852
- ISBN-13: 978-0877844853
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,650,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Christian Mission in the Modern World (Chavasse Lectures in World Mission)
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"John Stott has packed this book with what has to be some of the most perceptive, on-target observations available today on the intensely debated issues of world mission."
"No evangelical writer makes a more scrupulous attempt at clarity and fairness than John Stott. Notably fresh and illuminating."
"Stott is a precise analyst, driving right to the heart of Scripture; he is also a graceful writer, making memorably attractive all that he says."
About the Author
John R. W. Stott (1921-2011) has been known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist and communicator of Scripture. For many years he served as rector of All Souls Church in London, where he carried out an effective urban pastoral ministry. A leader among evangelicals in Britain, the United States and around the world, Stott was a principal framer of the landmark Lausanne Covenant (1974). His many books have sold millions of copies around the world and in dozens of languages. Stotts best-known work, Basic Christianity, has sold two million copies and has been translated into more than 60 languages. Other titles include The Cross of Christ, Understanding the Bible, The Contemporary Christian, Evangelical Truth, Issues Facing Christians Today, The Incomparable Christ, Why I Am a Christian and Through the Bible Through the Year, a daily devotional. He has also written eight volumes in The Bible Speaks Today series of New Testament expositions. 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. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" and was named in the Queens New Years Honours list as Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1969, Stott founded the Langham Trust to fund scholarships for young evangelical leaders from the Majority World. He then founded the Evangelical Literature Trust, which provided books for students, pastors and theological libraries in the Majority World. These two trusts continued as independent charities until 2001, when they were joined as a single charity: the Langham Partnership. Langham's vision continues today to see churches in the Majority World equipped for mission and growing to maturity in Christ through nurturing national movements for biblical preaching, fostering the creation and distribution of evangelical literature, and enhancing evangelical theological education. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Stott breaks down what 'mission' is, and places each 'piece' back into it's proper place according to Scripture. It is a calling back to 'true' Christianity, which is really no different than 'mission' in the first place.
This book is one that you'll want to keep handy, and read at least once a year, if not more (it's fairly short, and can easily be read in a single day). It is not overly academic, and can be understood by most laypeople.
Buy it... Unless you don't want change in your outlook to Biblical missions, you will not be disapointed.
Stott, who is British, is the type of evangelical Christian that we do not often see in America. In America, evangelicals generally work outside the structures of the so-called mainline churches. Stott is a priest of the Church of England and a participant in ecumenical dialogues. He is a pastor, theologian, activist, bridge-builder, and public intellectual. American evangelical leaders tend to specialize in one or two of those areas. Indeed, I cannot think of a precise American counterpart to Stott.
Christian Mission in the Modern World grew out of the 1975 Chavasse Lectures in World Mission that Stott delivered at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. It investigates the meaning of five words in conversation with then-current trends in both evangelical and ecumenical missiology: mission, evangelism, dialogue, salvation, and conversion. As should be expected in a book published more than thirty years ago, some of the persons, events, and documents Stott discusses are no longer current. Even so, however, Stott's insights into the meaning of these words still provoke thought. Let us briefly take a look at them.
First, mission: What is the mission of the church? It is common to distinguish evangelical and ecumenical missiologies by saying that the former is concerned with evangelism and the latter with social action. There is an element of truth in this, although Stott points out that evangelicals are concerned with social action and ecumenicals with evangelism--at least according to the leading documents of their respective movements. Turning to John 17:18 and 20:21, Stott argues that Jesus sends the church into the world to do the same kinds of things the Father sent him into the world to do. Stott therefore defines mission as "Christian service in the world comprising both evangelism and social action."
Second, evangelism: If Christian mission comprises both evangelism and social action, is there nonetheless a priority between them? Stott argues that there is, specifically, that evangelism takes priority over social action. But what is evangelism? Stott defines it as "announcing or proclaiming the good news of Jesus." This proclamation centers around five things: (1) the facticity and significance of certain events, namely, Christ's death and resurrection; (2) the reliability of the witnesses of these events--both the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles; (3) the affirmations that Jesus is both Savior and Lord because of these events; (4) the promises Jesus makes to those who come to him in faith; and (5) the demands of repentance and faith that Jesus requires of those who come to him in faith.
Third, dialogue: Given that evangelism is announcement or proclamation, is there any room for religious dialogue in evangelical missiology? That all depends on what you mean by dialogue. As an evangelical, Stott argues that entering into dialogue with others is a mark of authenticity, humility, integrity, and sensitivity. Dialogue neither requires us to abandon Christ or our faith, but it requires us to identify ourselves as sinners and the people we are evangelizing as the image of God. The goal of dialogue is "mutual understanding," but for the Christian dialogue is also "a necessary preliminary to evangelism."
Fourth, salvation: The crucial issue in both evangelism and dialogue is salvation, but what is salvation? Stott begins by stating that it is not psychophysical health or sociopolitical liberation. These options were common among non-evangelical theologians in the late 1960s and early 70s. Rather, salvation is "personal freedom" along the following three spectra: "from judgment for sonship," "from self for service," and "from decay for glory." I think it appropriate to use the theological terms justification, sanctification, and glorification as synonyms for what Stott is talking about when he uses the words salvation or personal freedom.
Fifth, conversion: Pluralism is the religious attitude of both modernity and postmodernity. Such an attitude has, as Stott puts it, a "distaste for conversion." But the message of Jesus was conversionist in nature. He preached, "Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). Biblical conversion, according to Stott, has five elements: repentance, church membership, social responsibility, cultural discernment, and reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.
As an Assemblies of God pastor, I find Stott's discussion of Christian mission useful as a corrective to missiological tendencies within my own fellowship that privilege evangelism at the expense of social action. Moreover, the theology that underlies Stott's missiology refuses to accommodate itself to a narrow understanding of conversion that focuses on decisions for Christ at the expense of discipleship in Christ. God's grace requires a two-fold response of faith and works, for authentic Christian belief produces changed behavior.
By the same token, however, I believe that ecclesiology is the missing element within Stott's formulation of Christian mission. It is not merely the individual Christian's mission to serve the world through evangelism and social action; it is the church's. It is not merely the individual Christian who practices evangelism and dialogue; it is the church. And when individuals receive the gift of salvation and choose conversion to Christ, they do so within the context of a church. The church, in other words, is God's mission. It is both the effect of God's mission to the world through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and the agent of Christ's continuing mission in the world.
Ecclesiology was not as prominent an issue in the early 1970s when Stott wrote Christian Mission in the Modern World. Thirty-four years ago, the church was still a quasi-Constantinian institution in both England and America; in other words, it was a respectable pillar of society. In 2009, we can no longer make that assumption about the church's role. Consequently, we must focus on the churchly character of mission, evangelism, dialogue, salvation, and conversion. But of course, no one should anachronistically fault Stott for failing to take into account these new conditions.
Stott starts with an excellent introduction on authorial intent and Scriptural authority. He says, “We evangelicals think we have [learned to live under the authority of Scripture]—and there is no doubt we sincerely want to—but at some times we are very selective in our submission and at others the traditions of evangelical elders seem to owe more to culture than to Scripture” (14). Submission to the authority of Scripture then is paramount in even approaching the topic of mission. Great launching pad for the coming definitions.
Stott makes three important points in the first chapter when defining mission. First, mission can’t mean everything God does. He also acts in “providence and common grace” in all cultures (21). Second, God by his very nature is a sending God (24). He sends prophets, Jesus, Spirit, and the Church—to act in the world. Third, Stott notes social justice isn’t just part of all of Jesus’ command in the Great Commission. It’s the second greatest commandment—love your neighbor (25-26, 32-33). This last point is a discussion I haven’t heard a lot of chatter about in the continued discussed about the Church and mission.
In the next chapter, he emphatically states that evangelism doesn’t equal making converts. That takes the responsibility of conversion out of God’s hands and places it into ours. “For the good news concerns neither just what Jesus once did (he died and rose again), not just what he now is (exalted to God’s right hand as Lord and Savior) but also what he now offers as a result” (55) and shortly after, “Some speak of ‘persuasion’ as if the outcome could be secured by human effort, almost as if it were another word for ‘coercion.’ But no. Our responsibility is to be faithful; the results are in the hand of the Almighty God” (60). These two elements: a robust offer of the gospel with a proper understanding of our role in heralding it would stop many of the evangelical shenanigans and charades when presenting the gospel. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need our help converting people; only our faithfulness in heralding the gospel.
Last, I was encouraged by Stott’s full bodied defense against the health and wealth gospel and liberation theology (100-101). In his section on the health and wealth gospel, he points out the purpose of Jesus’ healing of the sick, the importance for compassion toward the sick, and the role of hope in driving our hearts and minds to the future new creation. One quip, Stott gives too much ground when he states, “I would go further and say that a greater measure of health often follows an experience of salvation” (90). My experience must be vastly different than Stott’s because the Christians I know experience just as much sorrow, sickness, and hurt as their unbelieving counterparts. Also, Scripture seems to indicate as much as the New Testament regularly indicates Christians will experience suffering and the Spirit encourages steadfastness.
I found myself encouraged by Stott’s Scriptural advance on defining the five terms carefully and also by his winsome interaction with his opponents (see the critique sections mentioned above for a good example). He never fell into name calling or bluster. And he was willing to be firm in his convictions. That’s a harmony often missing from evangelical dialogue today. Stott still has much to offer Christians today and may be an engine for the Spirit to mature the Church.
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John Stott's book, Christian Mission in the Modern World, is almost prophetic in its addressing issues of defining terms and fighting...Read more