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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)
"For those who want an evenhanded and robust defense of the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement, John Stott's The Cross of Christ is the benchmark. With a deft hand, Stott has given us a classic articulation of this influential, evangelical doctrine that is both vigorous and readable. Books like this stand the test of time." (Tony Jones, author of The Sacred Way)
"As relevant today as when it first appeared, The Cross of Christ is more than a classic. It restates in our own time the heart of the Christian message. Like John the Baptist, John Stott points us away from the distractions that occupy so much of our energies in order, announcing, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'" (Michael Horton, professor of theology and apologetics, Westminster Seminary California)
"Rarely does a volume of theology combine six cardinal virtues, but John Stott's The Cross of Christ does so magnificently. It says what must be said about the cross; it gently but firmly warns against what must not be said; it grounds its judgments in biblical texts, again and again; it hierarchizes its arguments so that the main thing is always the main thing; it is written with admirable clarity; and it is so cast as to elicit genuine worship and thankfulness from any thoughtful reader. There are not many 'must read' books―books that belong on every minister's shelf, and on the shelves of thoughtful laypersons who want a better grasp of what is central in Scripture―but this is one of them." (D. A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
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
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Top Customer Reviews
The name John Stott is well recognized among Bible students today, and for good reason. He has long been recognized for his gifted teaching, penetrating insight and pastoral warmth. His writings take the profound teachings of Christianity; shine much needed light on them, and in the same fluid motion, they plug the teachings into the lives of their readers. This book is no exception. The Cross of Christ is considered to be Stott's greatest work by more than a few people and I myself would place it in the top five books I've ever read. It's that good.
The central theme of this book is to explain why and how the finished work of Christ on the cross is central to the Christian faith. It deals more with how salvation was provided for on the cross and not so much how it becomes effective for salvation in the life of a person. Stott begins by considering some preliminary issues such as the centrality of the cross in our faith. Stott says of Christ, "What dominated his mind was not the living but the giving of His life"(32). Stott rightly suggests that the cause of Christ's death was both the wickedness of men and the plan of God. He was turned over to the priests out of Judas' greed, turned over to Pilate out of the priest's envy, and handed over to the soldiers out of Pilate's cowardice, and the soldiers crucified Him. However, the blame for Christ's death cannot be placed solely on these individuals because He was not only suffering for their sins, but ours too. All this was according to the plan of God also. His love desired our salvation, and the only righteous way to do such a thing was to place our sins on the Savior and to have Him pay our penalty.
The chasm is great between ourselves and a holy God. Stott says that "sin is not only the attempt to be God; it is also the refusal to be man, by shuffling off the responsibility for our actions"(101). So in order for God to offer salvation to mankind, He must do so righteously, without contradicting Himself. Man can never repay such a tremendous debt. This is where the Savior enters the picture. In other words, "How can he save us and satisfy himself simultaneously? We reply to this point that, in order to satisfy himself, He sacrificed - indeed substituted - himself for us" (132). Stott declares, "...neither Christ alone as man not the Father alone as God could be our substitute. Only God in Christ, God the Father's own and only Son made man, could take our place" (160). The result of this divine transaction in that man can be pronounced legally righteous, justified, in the sight of God. Stott tells us that it is very important to understand the accomplishments of the cross, "for the better people understand the glory of the divine substitution, the easier it will be for them to trust in the Substitute" (203).
After Stott delineates the details involved in the atonement of Christ he does something that few theologians do by discussing what it means to live under the shadow of the cross. He tells us that the greatest single event, in which God simultaneously shows us His justice and His love, was in the cross. Ultimately, God dealt with the problem of evil at the cross when he provided salvation from it to all those who would trust Him. Now we have unlimited access to God which should mark our lives with joy.
Discipleship logically follows from salvation. Once God saves us, we give up "our supposed right to go on our own way" (279). We realize our position in Christ and we literally mortify the deeds of the flesh that once controlled us. Knowing that we are valuable in the sight of God should cause us to be giving in sacrificial service. Power and pride should now give way to service and humility.
Last but not least, Stott deals with Christian suffering. The causes of suffering are varied, but its results should be patient endurance and mature holiness (315,16). Even while our faith is being tried, we can rest easier knowing that God loves us and has promised an ultimate deliverance. Our involvement with evil should not be in its repayment but on letting God deal righteously. The best examples of how we are to react to suffering are the meekness and trust in the sovereignty of God that were displayed in the life of Christ, culminating in His death.
In summary, John Stott's The Cross of Christ is a book that teaches the prediction of, the necessity for, the accomplishments gained by, and the benefits resulting from Christ's substitutionary death on the cross. I feel like this is a much-needed work at this point in time when much of Christianity is focused on Christian living with our never sufficiently knowing why we live like we do. I am a firm believer that correct behavior can only be consistently lived when our minds are thinking correctly beforehand. Observation tells me that it is virtually impossible to behave correctly without believing correctly. In my opinion, Stott places the importance of Christ's cross exactly where is should be in our list of priorities...right at the top.
One of the areas that I found of serious value was chapter six “Self-Substitution of God”. Over the years I have been in debates and discussions about Gods wrath and Gods love many times before, Ive been silent observer in these types of discussions and when I finally read the entire scripture covering BOTH areas….I WAS LOST. Im soooo happy to find out that theological titans have also hotly debated and pontificated this issue and come up with different conclusions as well. I loved his dissection and contrast of the terms and ideals of Justification, sanctification , renewal and other biblical terms and translations which seem to be the same but yet somehow confusingly different.
I also found his approach to understanding Jesus’s victory on the cross invaluable. John Stott goes straight to the same issues that average lay people struggle with in these area. For me personally I cant understand how if Jesus did indeed defeat evil 2000 years ago…this world is infinatley jacked and marred by evil today ?
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.