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The Cross of Christ Hardcover – Special Edition, September 28, 2006
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This is an overall fine, useful book . . . it is always a delight to learn of others who take the cross of Christ seriously and seek to tell others about it. (Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, Fall 2007)
[Stott's] penetrating insight, charitable scholarship and pastoral warmth are guaranteed to feed both heart and mind. (Phil Gons, PastorBookshelf blog, June 5, 2007)
"John Stott rises grandly to the challenge of the greatest of all themes. All the qualities that we expect of him―biblical precision, thoughtfulness and thoroughness, order and method, moral alertness and the measured tread, balanced judgment and practical passion―are here in fullest evidence. This, more than any book he has written, is his masterpiece." (J. I. Packer, Regent College)
"Outside of the Bible itself, this may be the best book I've ever read on the cross of Christ. It is thorough, thoughtful and timely. As I read it, my mind was challenged, my heart was warmed, my faith was strengthened, and my focus was sharpened on the cross. Praise God for just giving us Jesus with nail prints in his hands and feet!" (Anne Graham Lotz, author of Just Give Me Jesus)
"I read everything John Stott writes because I know it will be biblical, well-reasoned and contextually applicable. The Cross of Christ is an intelligent, imaginative and timely exploration of the centrality of the cross, by a personal mentor I've come to appreciate for his scholar's mind and pastor's heart; he knows God deeply, understands the times clearly and engagingly explains truth in a relativistic age." (Dick Staub (dickstaub.com), president of The Center for Faith and Culture, broadcaster and author of Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters and Too Christian, Too Pagan)
"John Stott is loved and revered in our home. We have all of his writings, I believe, and in the honored center place in our bookshelf sits The Cross of Christ.
My wife and I consider The Cross of Christ one of the outstanding books of all times. We refer to it often. We have given copies away and recommended it widely. We take it out as we discuss the work of the Savior and in preparation for preaching and teaching. My own personally autographed copy is all marked up.
It is an outstanding exposition of scriptural truth. I believe we must saturate the churches across the world with the central truth of The Cross of Christ.
Once again as a call for the history of Christianity, a fresh generation of young followers of Jesus Christ need to understand the cross of Christ. Many are weak and some are even childish spiritually for not understanding the work of the cross.
Chapter six alone―"Self-Substitution of God"―is worth the whole of this rich, God-honoring, Christ-exhausting, devotional, biblical, ever-so-balanced, theologically sane and clear book." (Luis Palau, International Evangelist)
"In our world of war and terror, there is nothing more important to contemplate than the cross of Christ. May Stott's reflections give us the courage to fight, with all the love within us, the war of the slaughtered Lamb. The cross teaches us there is something worth dying for but nothing worth killing for, that we can conquer evil without mirroring it. So grab this book and get ready to live real good and get beat up real bad. It is the story of our faith." (Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution)
"I have no hesitation in saying that this is the most enriching theological book I have ever read. I read it slowly and devotionally over a period of several months. I found that it edified and challenged me, thrilled me with the glory of the cross, and equipped me to answer some of the questions non-Christians and skeptics ask about the cross. I am happy that a new thrust is being made to introduce this great book to a new generation of Christians." (Ajith Fernando, author, Bible teacher and national director, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka)
"The passion of Paul's statement, 'I am determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and him crucified,' resonates on every page of this classic book on the centrality of the cross. What's more, Dr. Stott has validated every word with a life spent in servant leadership." (Michael Card, Bible teacher and musician)
"Biblical, clear and cogent are the words that came to mind on first reading this book. The passing of time has also made it indisputable that this book is a classic which is profound in a way that few evangelical books have been in recent years. It is compelling in its simplicity and comprehensive in its grasp of the way in which God conquers our sin, our rebellion, our ghastly evil through the person of Christ. Here is truth which is true, not just because it works for me, but because it is grounded in the very being and character of God, revealed and authenticated by him, worked out in the very fabric of our history, and therefore it is truth for all time." (David F. Wells, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
From the Publisher
eatures & Benefits
* A masterpiece from one of the most respected Christian teachers
* Explores all the facets of the cross and its implication for our lives
* A classic study on the heart of the Christian faith
* Examines Scripture, tradition and modern experience with regard to the cross
* Biblically precise, thoughtful, thorough and filled with practical passion
* 1987 Eternity Book of the Year
* Winner of a 1988 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Gold Medallion Award
* Now with a study guide and a new foreword by Alister McGrath
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Structure of the Work
Before setting out on his detailed explication of the cross of Christ, Stott sets up the parameters within which he will work: “In developing my theme, I have had in mind the triangle of Scripture, tradition, and the modern world” (17). I hold that in this approach, Stott seeks to be Biblically faithful, traditionally responsible, and culturally sensitive. This approach will be sure to make this a work of lasting influence for the study of Christology and the worship of Christ. This work, presented in four parts, demonstrates a key feature of Stott’s ability to write and sustain a comprehensive and cogent argument. The overall flow of his presentation begins with “Approaching the Cross,” moving to “The Heart of the Cross,” on to “The Achievement of the Cross,” and concluding with “Living Under the Cross.”
Within Part I, readers are made aware of the necessity and centrality of the cross. Christ’s death was central to his mission, and it was central to his mission because at the cross he achieved the bloody and messy work of redemption. Stott then moves on to Part II where he will discuss the heart of the cross. At the beginning of Part II, readers can observe our plight in human sinfulness through Stott’s careful biblical exegesis, as well as his treatment of the Church tradition (ie. his engagement with Anselm on p.90). Always keen to provide thorough and biblical definitions for key terms, Stott starts to bolster his position on a satisfaction theory of the atonement that is held in conjunction with the self-substitution of god. Again, in a way that only Stott can, he strikes a nerve when he writes the words on the dual manifestations of substitution. In Part III, I was hard pressed to not type out all of my underlinings and notations—chiefly because Stott was talking about me, a sinner, and the salvation offered to us. I found this Part of the work to preach right through me. And I appreciated Stott’s inclusion of the resurrection alongside the crucifixion in his section on the conquest of evil. And naturally, in Part IV, Stott moves on to the implications that the cross has for those who live under it. And while I did not enjoy all sections in this particular portion of the work, he offers up great contributions for corporate worship, the celebration of the sacraments, and the fellowship within the body. And he concludes his work in a wonderfully encouraging fashion. He acknowledges our sufferings, and magnificently rearticulates our union with Christ: “It is wonderful that we may share in Christ’s sufferings; it is more wonderful still that he shares in ours” (326).
This work was anything but drudgery. Stott all throughout showcased wonderful narrative leading and retelling of key Biblical events. He also heavily employed rhetorical questions to inductively draw in the reader. This contributed to his overall engaging style and logical progressions. In addition, he employs the use of rich imagery and helpful analogies. I especially enjoyed the imagery that juxtaposed the world and the cross where he writes, “Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross. There these noxious weeds shrivel and die” (85). But Stott’s rhetorical sophistication does not end with his narrative abilities—they are also expressed in his sophisticated logical orderings and presentations. These would not be possible without his established definitions (ie. imputation, propitiation, substitute, representative, etc.). And he employs these as building blocks for the structuring of his arguments (especially in my favorite section on the images of salvation on pp.166 ff). After he makes these sophisticated and faithful assertions, he is always mindful of the reader and offers his rearticulations that help to prod the reader along.
I do not have much to offer by way of criticism on this work, but there are a few things that I would have liked to have seen explained more thoroughly. The first area has to deal with the scope of the atonement. I was able to only detect one instance where he alluded to the scope of the atonement, and it needed more explanation: “But the beneficiaries change from ‘us’ to ‘the world’ to show the universal scope of reconciliation…” (196). He could have offered an explanation on his definition of “the world.” However, like Anselm, it could have been an intentional avoidance of addressing for the sake of the overall contribution, but one that I would have liked to have seen nonetheless. There was only one section in the entire volume that I did not care for and it was the section in Part IV that dealt with the state (pp.296-301). It seemed a little forced in this section and seemed to operate out of the presupposition that the state is intrinsically an enemy (by virtue of its placement in the chapter “Loving Our Enemies”). I would love to do some comparative analysis on this point to see if this section was added after the original edition was published. Even in light of these minor critiques, Stott still achieved the goal that he set out to accomplish: he provided a clear and comprehensive look at the cross. This work has marks and elements present that will make it an enduring classic, filled with enough content for the academy as well as the pulpit.