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The Cross of Christ: 20th Anniversary Edition

By John R. W. Stott (Author) & Simon Vance (Read by)
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Item description for The Cross of Christ: 20th Anniversary Edition by John R. W. Stott & Simon Vance...

The universal symbol of the Christian faith is neither a crib nor a manger, but a gruesome cross. Yet many people are unclear about its meaning, and cannot understand why Christ had to die. In this magisterial and best-selling book, John Stott explains the significance of Christ's cross and answers the objections commonly brought against biblical teaching on the atonement. John Stott's modern classic is as sharp and pertinent as ever it was. It combines an excellent biblical exposition and a characteristically thoughtful study of Christian belief, with a searching call to the church to live under the cross.

Publishers Description
The universal symbol of the Christian faith is neither a crib nor a manger, but a gruesome cross. Yet many people are unclear about its meaning, and cannot understand why Christ had to die. // In this magisterial and best-selling book, John Stott explains the significance of Christ's cross and answers the objections commonly brought against biblical teaching on the atonement. // John Stott's modern classic is as sharp and pertinent as ever it was. It combines an excellent biblical exposition and a characteristically thoughtful study of Christian belief, with a searching call to the church to live under the cross.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Hovel Audio
Running Time: 840.00 minutes
Pages   1
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 5.4" Width: 6.5" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  CD
Release Date   Dec 1, 2007
Publisher   Hovel Audio
Edition  Unabridged  
ISBN  1596445491  
ISBN13  9781596445499  

Availability  2 units.
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More About John R. W. Stott & Simon Vance

John R. W. Stott

The Reverend Dr. John Stott was Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place in London, England, and had a worldwide ministry as a Bible expositor, speaker, and writer.

John R. W. Stott was born in 1921.

John R. W. Stott has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Classics of Faith and Devotion

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Cross of Christ: 20th Anniversary Edition?

Revelatory...  Jul 28, 2008
It is easy for many of us, and certainly myself, to look unthinkingly upon the cross at times as a mere symbol, a fixture upon which we awkwardly and sporadically register our faith. Indeed, for the amateur, it can be difficult to discern the relative priority of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ within a personal theology decidedly laic. John Stott eloquently resolves these issues by describing the centrality and certitude the cross brings to Christian belief.

In a manner indomitably thorough, Stott alternately inspires, educates, challenges, and encourages the reader with a scope not only vast, but, for the arm chair theologian, largely unexpected. Perhaps, for some readers, The Cross of Christ may act as a refresher, but for others, it provides nothing less than discovery. While passages exist which may prove daunting, there are wide swaths of the book that are readily consumed and abruptly revelatory. Though typically ecumenical in nature, Stott's book offers several finely-tuned comparisons between Catholic and Protestant theologies which are welcomely affirmational. This is not a book for the casual enquirer, but can be transformational for those willing to put forth the effort. Accordingly, I find The Cross of Christ solidly merits a rating of 5 stars. Highly recommended.
The Cross Transforms Everything  Apr 3, 2008
From the beginning John Stott recognizes the impossibility of exhausting that which will take an eternity to unfold. He also acknowledges that the cross is not something that we can distantly analyze and discuss. As Stott says, "we can stand before it only with a bowed head and a broken spirit". Throughout this work our author appears to be a man that is bowed and broken himself. Stott, on the topic of the Cross of Christ is a sure guide.

He begins by approaching the cross (his introduction) and then moves us to the "heart of the cross". This is the meat of Stott's book. It is his argument for substitutionary atonement. After attempting to convince the reader of the substitutionary core of the cross our author discusses the benefits that this sacrifice has produced. Many authors prior have stopped at this point in their discussion of the cross, not Stott. He introduces a much needed fourth section; what it means to "live under the cross". Perhaps the many books that have hit our shelves since 1986 owe a debt of gratitude to Stott's premise that, "the cross transforms everything".

What I Enjoyed:

Perhaps the best section is Stott's fourth. The entire book is worthy of our read, yet the practical application of "living under the cross" is priceless. In fact, Stott does a wonderful job of keeping the entire book "out of the clouds" and into the life of the every day believer. It will speak to those in the ivory tower but also will touch the lives of those in the marketplace.

The book may be a little difficult for the typical lay person, but by no means unreadable. The learned scholar will not be in the least bored by this work, nor would a newer believer be completely lost. Stott teaches on the Cross in a clear and concise manner.

What I Disliked:

Something about Stott's writing style (which I typically enjoy) caused me to get distracted occasionally. It seemed as if at times Stott would walk us up to the foot of the cross, and then point across the street at something else. By no means would this have ever been his intent, yet the book is wrought with some arguments that took place 20 years ago and are less relevant today. In the 20th anniversary edition perhaps this should have been edited.

There are also a few things with which I disagree with Stott on. Occasionally it appears that his desire to be ecumenical makes the truth seem more fluid than it needs to be.

Should You Buy It?:

How can you not by a book that CJ Mahaney recommends as the elite book on the cross? In all actuality if I were to recommend a book on the cross to a typical believer it would not be Stott's it would be Mahaney's The Cross Centered Life. Yet, Stott's is an essential companion. To the pastor/theologian this work is a must have. To the everyday reader it is not a "must-have" but one that would be very beneficial to own.

Additional Note to the Reader:

I am fully aware that Stott believes in Annihilationism. I consider this as I recommend this book. The truth is his Annihilationism, from what I could tell, did not affect this book. I am certain that he might have taken a few different roads had he held to an eternal conscious torment in hell. Nevertheless, Stott does acknowledge the punishment and wrath of God, as well as the idea of separation from the Godhead. Therefore, Stott's view on Annihilationism does not cause me to refrain from recommending this work.
Best book I have read on the cross  Mar 20, 2008
John R. W. Stott, pastor of All Soul's Anglican Church in London, is one of the most respected evangelical writers in Great Britain. I just finished reading his classic book, The Cross of Christ, and I found it to be the best book I have ever read about the Cross.

Stott writes as an evangelical pastor and scholar. While he thinks deeply, he writes with clarity and frequent illustrations. In fact, I used his book as the basis for a series of sermons on the cross that I preached recently.

Stott begins by making a passionate argument for the centrality of the cross to the Christian gospel. Then he explores the reasons for the crucifixion, and while describing many "images" of atonement, he zeroes in on Christ as a substitutionary sacrifice to satisfy both the holiness and love of God. His discussion in chapter seven of propitiation, redemption, justification and reconciliation is perhaps the best chapter of the book. The book concludes with chapters on what it means to live as followers of the One who died on the cross, with excellent explanations of service, overcoming evil, and understanding suffering.

Stott has read widely on the subject and he graciously comments on opposing views from liberal and Roman Catholic scholars. He takes other views seriously, but is faithful to an orthodox evangelical interpretation of scripture. I found it interesting that he disagrees with the popular view of Jesus' death as a "ransom" paid to the devil in a strictly literal sense. His discussion on the distinctions between Protestant and Roman Catholic views of justification is particularly insightful. Stott rejects the doctrine that God does not suffer, maintaining in chapter 13 that it is precisely because God did suffer on the cross that we are able to bear our suffering.

Many parts of the book read as if they were sermons. This is not surprising, since Stott is a pastor. Yet it comes together as a systematic theology of the cross. His conclusion makes an excellent sermon on how central the cross is to Paul's Letter to the Galatians.

This is a book that I will read again and again in the years to come.
Great book on penal substitution  Jan 10, 2008
John R.W. Stott is an Anglican clergyman from Britain. In 2005, he was purported by Time magazine as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." He has written some 50 books, and The Cross of Christ was called, by its publisher, InterVarsity Press, "The work of a lifetime, from one of the world's most influential thinkers, about the heart of the Christian faith." The 20th Anniversary Edition includes a new forward (where Allister McGrath called the book Stott's "greatest and best work"), a chapter-by-chapter study guide, and a cool new cover. Other than that, the text is the same. Hopefully, a summary of the text, with the mentioning of a few highlights will serve to explain why this work by Stott is considered to be so great.
It would be difficult to give an all-encompassing critique of all that is good about Stott's book. He included exegesis of Scripture, historical understandings, "recent" scholarship, and illustrations. McGrath pointed out in the introduction that the scholarship used in the text is outdated (as it is all pre-1986) for the new version. McGrath stated that Stott's conclusions would probably be identical either way, so it is almost a non-issue. However, it is difficult to think of any scholarship since the writing of the first edition that would add to the discussion in a worthwhile way. Nonetheless, the amount of Scripture (including sound exegesis), history and stories/examples is indispensable.
Stott started off by explaining why the cross is central for Christianity. This may seem obvious on the one hand, but that is not so, as there were other images central to the earliest Christians (dove, fish, and others). It was later the cross became the central commemoration of Jesus' life, since his death was the most important aspect of his life (26-7). He discussed the
absurdity of the cross--an instrument of torture or a curse--and how it would be a stumbling block or foolishness because of that (29-30). But, it is necessary to have the cross as central, Stott argued, because the cross was central in Jesus' mind (31). He then explained how Jesus thought of the cross--his voluntary determination to go to it, and the cross as the culmination of all that Jesus came to do (31-8). He admitted that the apostolic witness had not full doctrine of the atonement, but briefly showed the teaching of the apostles and the earliest Christians and some of the opposition to the message of the cross--the likes of which include Islam and Nietzsche (38-50).
He moved on to the all-important question of why Christ had to die. He dealt with the obvious answers--execution by Romans, betrayal by Judas, being turned over by Jews--but he insisted, ultimately, that we are the reason Christ died. We are responsible for his death, and it is this understanding that must be in place before we can truly understand the cross and be brought to repentance (63). The third chapter, "Looking Below the Surface," deals with the issue more deeply, dealing with Christ dying for our sins, Christ's own teaching about his going to the cross, and his agony in the Garden and on the cross (66-86).
It is the next section, "The Heart of the Cross," where Stott begins really dealing with the cross. Quoting from Anselm fairly regularly, Stott built the argument for the need for forgiveness as the basis for the cross. He dealt with the "Gravity of Sin," "Human Moral Responsibility," guilt and God's wrath (91-111). Without this section, the rest of the argument falls apart. This is easily the most important for that reason, but also because of its counter-cultural nature. In dealing with the lack of emphasis on sin in "today's" culture, Stott built the case against modern psychology's penchant for laying blame elsewhere. He also made the case that sin is more than a mistake, but a willing rebellion against God. He may have written this 20 years ago, but the need is pressing today. As to the objection that God should just forgive us--just like Anselm, Stott asserted that one who believes that has not understood the gravity of sin.
Chapter 5, "Satisfaction for Sin," is likely to be the most controversial. It is here that Stott put forth the differing theories of the atonement--ransom, objective and subjective theories of the atonement. There is great emphasis on historical illumination in this chapter, and less emphasis on Scripture. However, Stott does deal with Scripture as well as historical arguments, and weighs them out quite well. He insisted, in light of all the theories, that God must satisfy Himself, because of His holiness, but that the cross is infinitely love as well as infinitely holy--therefore denying modern opposition to the forensic idea of substitution. Stott found value in the other atonement theories, but insisted that satisfaction through substitution (though the terms are not explicitly biblical) is the first and best theory. Stott dealt in the next chapter with the substitute--who it is that was substituted on the cross. Started his argument with Old Testament sacrifices and atonement, moved into the Anselm/Abelard debated, and concluded that only a human can truly make atonement for sins (144). He then made clarifications on God substituting Himself in the person of Christ, and considered the humanity and deity of Christ. However, the only Christological heresy he dealt with was Sabellianism (154-5). For a thorough understanding of who Christ was and why His full humanity and deity are important, Stott should probably have considered some of the other heresies and why they are insufficient.
Chapter 7 includes another great strength of the book, and that is in the "images" of atonement. Stott claimed that the New Testament offers the images of propitiation, redemption, justification, and reconciliation, and that they should be seen as that--images--and not theories. Moreover, he considered them incompatible yet all truthful (165). He worked through each one, explaining the picture that is painted--a courtroom for justification and a marketplace for redemption, for example (179, 173). The stickiest argument Stott dealt with was that of propitiation. While he rejected an overly crude understanding of God's anger, he insisted on the biblical basis for the understanding of propitiation and the need for its proper interpretation (167-173). He was quick to admit that this line of thinking is not popular in today's society, but that it was completely necessary to understand the biblical concept of salvation. One problem with this chapter is that, while Stott dealt with grace, sin, and salvation, there was no mention of the extent of the atonement. Certainly, digging up the predestination debate would have its shortcomings, but it would very much be apropos, and, since Stott dealt with so much Scripture in explaining other difficult concepts, it is difficult to understand why this subject was not even breeched.
The next chapter talks about the revelation found in the cross. While Stott started with the Incarnation, he ends up at the cross as the ultimate revelation of Jesus Christ. If this sounds like Luther's "theology of the cross," that is because it basically is. Stott even called Luther's theology of the cross as the "key signature of Christian theology" (211). He then discussed Abelard's moral influence theory again, and while he denied its primacy, he contended that one cannot look at Abelard and Anselm as polar opposites, but as complimentary--the cross should move Christians (217). He also dealt with, again, objections that contend that God should just forgive people, explaining the reality of the cross in parables such the Prodigal Son. In chapter 9, Stott wrote about Christ's victory over evil, more or less expounding on thoughts he had already given..
The real beauty of this book comes in the last section, "Living Under the Cross." To this point, Stott has said little outside the norm of the objective theories. However, in this section, he dealt with the practical applications of the cross for the individual, the church, society and the problem of evil. The church, Stott contended, is to be a community of celebration, modeling the self-sacrificial and giving love of Jesus. He even explained differing views of the Eucharist, showing why a Catholic model is unacceptable, but that care must be taken not to separate the cross from the Lord's Supper, since Jesus did not either.
Chapter 11 confronted modern psychology, again, and dealt with true knowledge of self. That true knowledge only comes after returning the self-giving love of Jesus on the cross is modeled. He dismisses easy living style Christianity, citing Jesus' call to take up the cross and follow Him. He called Christians to a life of self-denial, which could be as simple as popularity, or as much as one's own life. He also dispelled the notion of "that's just the cross I have t bear" being anything less than sacrifice and self-denial--a husband who struggles to listen to his wife does not give his wife a cross to bear, in Stott's assessment (272). This is a far cry from what passes as Christianity then (1986) or now. And, all this counter-cultural talk stems from the logical conclusions of the cross.
The last chapter is difficult, and Stott acknowledged that no answer would truly suffice. Here, Stott argued for the place of the cross in dealing with the problem of evil. While he offers responses such as the free-will defense and the character building defense, the most tell-all sign of Stott's understanding of the cross is in a very vulnerable statement: "I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross" (326). The reason Stott sees this is primarily that God experienced pain, just as humans do, in His life in Jesus, and even more in the cross. It also includes the combination of God's love and justice found in the cross (a theme that reappears throughout the book at nearly every turn). While this does not alleviate the problem of evil (and Stott would likely agree), it does help to keep from feeling forgotten.
The brief summary of Stott's book comes nowhere close to doing it justice. Each chapter is packed with information. The amount of Scripture is almost unparalleled. The fair and balanced approach to opposing theories and explanations is refreshing. The Cross of Christ is not simply about atonement, and it is not simply about one theory of the atonement. Stott finds value in nearly every theory and refuses to polarize his stance. The only theological ideas that are not dealt with at all are inerrancy/authority of the Bible, and eschatology. The study guide at the end would make small group discussion easy, and the contents of this book would be invaluable. The only overall negative of this book (and its badness is certainly debatable) is the constant listing of points. No point is made without "4 things" to explain this or "5 things" to explain that. While postmodernity (which has become more prevalent since the original writing of this book) dislikes lists and systems, it also seems to package the teaching too neatly sometimes. Are the points he makes really the only points? Is it really that clean-cut? Certainly, this is not a big deal in light of all the positive aspects of the book. It would be great for teaching and preaching, and it contains a message that is not taught and thoroughly explained today. Even those who have a good understanding of the objective theory of Christ's atonement would benefit from this book.
He takes a profound subject and makes it simple  Dec 27, 2007
This book came out in 1986, and my professors in college spoke highly of it and I finally sat down and read it in 2006 and it was great. What topic is more important than the gospel? What event is more important than the Cross? Like John Stott says, "It was by his death that he wished above all else to be remembered." Judas handed him over out of greed, The leaders handed him over out of envy, Pilate handed him over out of cowardice, and we also handed him over and shouted "Crucify!"

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