Read Basic Christianity by John R.W. Stott Rick Warren Online


Who is Jesus Christ? If he is not who he said he was and if he did not do what he said he had come to do the whole superstructure of Christianity crumbles in ruins to the ground Is it plausible that Jesus was truly divine? And what might this mean for us? John Stott presents his clear classic statement of the gospel...

Title : Basic Christianity
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ISBN : 9780830834037
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 179 Pages
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Basic Christianity Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-11-30 22:52

    The mission : to find a book explaining Christian belief which makes the least bit of sense.First attempt : Mere Christianity by C S Lewis. I think we know how that one went.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". This is the 50 year anniversary edition of the book originally published in 1958 and "in the 21st century you cannot afford to ignore this book!" Okay, I'm not ignoring. I'm told this will explain the basic worldview of one third of humanity.Chapter one is called The Right Approach but it has the wrong approach. Immediately the non-believer runs into fundamental problems with the vocabulary. 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. But this book does. 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.That's on page 2. Not good! 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. Rising from a throne and stooping – that's surely metaphorical. But "initiative" – that's supposed to be literal. Yes? I think so, but I get no assistance from John Stott. So this is for me terminally confused language.Here's a bold assertion. 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.And I say :Sez you! I think our chief claim to nobility is that we are still able to create love and art and music in the middle of this charnelhouse planet and in the face of our knowledge of the tiny spoonful of life we are able to live here, and that even in the middle of death, we live furiously and horribly and sadly and brilliantly, howling with laughter through the river of tears, and weeping at weddings and cheap pop songs.Well something along those lines. You get my drift.But let's try another chapter – The Fact and Nature of Sin, chapter 5. Now we run into another issue. 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. (Well, you know, quelle surprise. 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!! Unless you're Mother Theresa you're just another dreadful selfish hideous squiggly mass of filthy sin in God's eyes. Yes, sorry, even you. You broke all the commandments before you cracked your four minute boiled egg this morning, yes you did don't you try to deny it you little creep I saw you. Yes, there's a lot of this kind of thing in chapter five all right. John tut-tuts over us all :We'd find it quite easy to consider ourselves good at high-jumping if the bar were never raised more than a few inches!You see what he's saying ? Your standards of goodness are repulsively low. You might as well not have any. You worm. But hold on :God is interested in the thought behind the deed, and the motive behind the action.Actually, isn't that a bit hopeful? My motive for not ever washing my car is not laziness but environmentalism! All that wasted water! My motive for not joining the charity half-marathon in support of cancer research is also not laziness, it's to avoid being tempted into smugness and Pharisaic self-regard if I had done it! But actually John is more pitiless than me. He points out that We may have attended church – but have we ever really worshipped God? We may have said our prayers – but have we really prayed?Wow, this is Christianity as practised by the SS – come on now, Mr Bryant, your eyes were closed, you were in a church, but youweren't really praying – were you? Hmm? (Another twist of the thumb-screw, deacon).John Stott is on much firmer ground when he talks about the collective action of humanity, but he only mentions this in asides. In 1958 the world was reeling from two world wars within forty years of each other, ending with the atom bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If he was writing in 2008, he'd have been pointing out climate change and general environmental woes, not to mention the one billion people on the planet still suffering in abject poverty. So human waywardness and selfishness - sin, if you like - is real all right. So, okay, let's go with humanity's sin. God's project is to rescue us all from its consequences – great! That's gotta be good news! But he does it in a really wierd way. It's like a Playstation game with hidden levels. It's not the way I would have done it at all.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. Then he takes a paragraph to say that he can't explain why Christ was crucified. Not really. "Much remains a mystery." But he'll have a go.1) Christ died as an example. 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. To bear unjust suffering patiently brings God's approval... Perhaps nothing is more completely opposed to our natural instincts than this command not to resist. Yet the cross urges us to accept injury, love our enemies and leave the outcome to God.Whoah. This is very radical stuff. Seriously? So it was unChristian to declare war against the Nazis? Let Hitler and every other Hitler do their genocide dance? Seriously? I really have a hard time deciding what is to be taken literally here.2) Christ died as our sin-bearer. Now we get mystical. But the idea to begin with is crude. Back in the Old Testament, you sinned and you made a sacrifice. I suppose slaughtering a few sheep & goats was giving up valuable animals as a symbolic gift to God, it's a common thing throughout many religions. The idea of the scapegoat started here. 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 crossThe accumulated sins from the whole of human history were laid upon him… He made them his own. He took full reponsibility for them…. Our sins sent Christ to Hell. He tasted the agony of a soul alienated from God. Bearing our sins, he died our death. He endured instead of us the penalty of separation from God which our sins deserved.So he had freed us all from the alienation from God which our sins should have brought upon us. Reconciliation to God was available to all who would trust this Saviour for themselves and receive him as their own.Ah, there's the catch. The unique sacrifice comes with strings, it is the genuine article but only if you're a Christian. Stott does not comment on the fate of the other two-thirds of humanity. Stott then remarks : "This simple and wonderful account of sinbearing is strangely unpopular today." Perhaps because it's weird and incomprehensible. But he does not tell us what is the popular interpretation of the crucifixion. Which kind of leaves us dangling. 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 lifeWell, 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. A little too mystical-twistical in the middle and far too Pol-pottish at the end.

  • Brandon Yoder
    2018-11-13 22:49

    I've read maybe three or four really good books, besides the Bible, that have helped me in my walk with Christ. Tozer's "Pursuit of God", Lewis's "Mere Christianity", Bonhoeffers "Cost of Discipleship" and now Stott's "Basic Christianity". I was hesitant to read this book at first, thinking it would be a re-hash of so many books I've read already on this topic. I was wrong. Stott has a very direct way of explaining his points and backs up each claim with scripture, which I believe is a bit different than C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. I felt myself reading a section and having to stop and process what he was saying for a few seconds as it really hit me. It's one of those books that you can feel Christ talking to you in the pages. 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. If someone doesn't believe, I don't think this is the book that's going to change their mind.

  • Morris Nelms
    2018-12-11 15:47

    Good for what it is. I would cautiously recommend it to someone who has just become a Christian and knows nothing about the faith. I guess the title is accurate, although it is slanted in favor of the Evangelical Protestant perspective entirely. I dislike the author's insistence that one use a modern translation of the Bible. It's as if the Protestant church has decided to bury the KJV as fast as possible. Sorry, I still prefer it.

  • Adam
    2018-11-22 22:39

    I know I'm only 50+ years late to the party, but this is excellent. Clear, winsome, and surprisingly comprehensive. This must still be one of the go-to books for anyone wanting an introduction to the Christian faith.

  • NerdReader60
    2018-11-10 21:32

    It was a good book teaching what Christians should know. I especially enjoyed the last two chapters.

  • Becky
    2018-11-15 23:42

    First sentence: 'In the beginning God,' the first four words of the Bible are more than an introduction to the creation story or to the book of Genesis. They supply the key which opens our understanding to the Bible as a whole. 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. It addresses the basics of the Christian faith: what sets Christianity apart from every other religion. The book is divided into four sections that flow together really well. In the first part, Stott examines "Christ's Person." Who was Jesus? Who did Jesus say he was? who did he claim to be? Why should anyone--living in the first century or this century--believe Jesus to be the son of God? In the second part, Stott ventures forth into unpopular territory: "Man's Need." In other words, SIN is real, and it's your problem and mine. In the third section, Stott returns to the subject of Christ, "Christ's Work." This section deals with the death of Christ and the salvation Christ brings to believers. In the fourth and final section, Stott addresses, "Man's Response." Stott, for better or worse, was NOT reformed. And in this section, he argues that Christ is patiently waiting outside the door of your heart knocking, hoping that you'll take him up on his offer of eternal life. (Stott seems to have forgotten the whole SIN condition from previous chapters.) But it isn't just about positively responding to the altar call. 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. I didn't love all of it; I would rewrite the last few chapters perhaps. BUT. Stott gives readers much to think about. And he writes in a way that doesn't compromise the truth of the Bible; he writes for agnostics and skeptics and seekers. I also appreciate the fact that this one is SHORT. Quotes: You can never take God by surprise. You can never anticipate him. He always makes the first move. He is always there 'in the beginning.' Before man existed, God acted. Before man stirs himself to seek God, God has sought man. In the Bible we do not see man groping after God; we see God reaching after man. John StottThe 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 StottChristianity 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. God has spoken. God has acted. The record and interpretation of these divine words and deeds is to be found in the Bible. And there for many people they remain. As far as they are concerned, what God has said and done belong to past history; it has not yet come out of history into experience, out of the Bible into life. God has spoken; but have we listened to his word? God has acted; but have we benefited from what he has done? John StottChrist is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference. John StottThe most striking feature of the teaching of Jesus is that he was constantly talking about himself. It is true that he spoke much about the fatherhood of God and the kingdom of God. But then he added that he was the Father's Son and that he had come to inaugurate the kingdom. Entry into the kingdom depended on men's response to him. He even did not hesitate to call the kingdom of God my kingdom. This self-centeredness of the teaching of Jesus immediately sets him apart from the other great religious teachers of the world. John StottSo close was his identification with God that it was natural for him to equate a man's attitude to himself with his attitude to God. Thus to know him was to know God; to see him was to see God; to believe in him was to believe in God; to receive him was to receive him was to receive God; to hate him was to hate God; to honor him was to honor God. John StottThere is no self-interest in love. The essence of love is self-sacrifice. Jesus was sinless because he was selfless. Such selflessness is love. And God is love. John StottIn order to appreciate the work which Jesus accomplished, we must understand who we are as well as who he was. John StottWhenever our behavior is inconsistent with our belief, or our practice contradicts our preaching, we take God's name in vain. To take God's name in vain is to talk one way and act another. John StottMan's highest destiny is to know God. John StottGod's order is that we put him first, others next, self last. Sin is the reversal of the order. It is to put ourselves first, our neighbor next, and God somewhere in the background. John StottIt is more natural to us to talk than to listen, to argue than to submit. John StottAll 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 StottHe died to atone for our sins for the simple reason that we cannot atone for them ourselves. John StottEvery Christian can echo these words. There is healing through his wounds, life through his death, pardon through his pain, salvation through his suffering. John StottRepentance and faith belong together. We cannot follow Christ without forsaking sin. Repentance is a definite turn from every thought, word, deed and habit which is known to be wrong. It is not sufficient to feel pangs of remorse or to make some kind of apology to God. Fundamentally, repentance is a matter neither of emotion nor of speech. It is an inward change of mind and attitude towards sin which leads to a change of behavior. John StottEvery day the Christian is to die. Every day he renounces the sovereignty of his own will. Every day he renews his unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ. John StottHe asks no more than he gave. He asks a cross for a cross. Only a sight of the cross will make us willing to deny ourselves and follow Christ. Our little crosses are eclipsed by his. John Stott

  • Susan Kendrick
    2018-11-27 22:32

    So straightforward; I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

  • Douglas Wilson
    2018-12-09 23:55


  • August Bourré
    2018-12-08 23:30

    Earlier this year, at the age of 68, my father became an Anglican priest. He's never attended seminary or any other formal training, but he'd been serving as a lay reader and extremely dedicated volunteer to an extremely tiny and aging rural congregation, helping to keep it alive and even building it up.I'm not a religious person (I have that same vague attraction to mystery and 'spirituality' that so many of us can't define and can't easily reconcile with the rest of our outlook, but it's never manifested as an explicitly religious impulse), and I certainly wouldn't call myself Christian, though I was raised in the Anglican church. My father respects my choice in the matter, but it doesn't stop him from--gently--trying to push me towards the church. Most recently he's been doing this by buying me books, because he knows that I use literature in part as a way to parse the world. 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).Stott's book is clear, open, and written in plain language, which made for very easy reading. It did not move me to join a church, or become a Christian or anything like that. What it did do, was allow me to understand my father better, and get a kind of detailed look at how he sees the world. 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. I don't imagine that I'll ever find religion, but I'm glad I read it, because I now feel closer to my father, and know more about the man he is, and the man he tries to be.

  • John Brackbill
    2018-11-25 15:50

    No doubt I have significant differences with John Stott's theology on several points, but not much of that came up in this book though enough did for me to make it a four star rather than the five that it certainly was on the whole (e.g. use of images in worship, images of hell being symbolic rather than literal in Bible, and themes of limited atonement). Thankfully his seeming openness to an annihilation view of hell did not come out (I have read quotes about this tentative position from his contribution in Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue (InterVarsity, 1988). With all that behind, let me say I was very much helped by this book. His approach at evangelizing someone, his focus on true repentance and faith in Christ and his exemplary reasoning with the Scripture in an evangelistic way highly commends this book. It takes the reader (listener!) wire to wire from considering Christ to trusting Christ to living for Christ. I was also very pleased with his focus on the essential nature of being rooted in a local church after conversion. I plan to read it some time as well. This was a great listen because it is very equipping for communicating the truth to unbelievers as well as new believers.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2018-11-11 16:54

    I needed to take this in small doses as Dr. Stott is an extremely intelegent man and digestion of his thoughts helps. I'd put this with Lewis's Mere Christanity as they sort of compliment. (I like Lewis best if I need to choose, but also like Dr, stoot. they both humble me.)

  • Alexis Neal
    2018-12-09 18:34

    Clearer and more straightforward than Lewis's Mere Christianity, and more biblically grounded, but not nearly as delicious a read.

  • Joshua D.
    2018-11-23 15:56

    Fantastic short introduction to Christianity. Excellent to use with someone investigating Christianity or to ground the new believer. It’s also an excellent refresher for the mature Christian.

  • Robert D. Cornwall
    2018-11-30 18:34

    A number of years ago I had the opportunity to hear John Stott speak. The host was a Presbyterian Church that featured speakers both conservative and liberal. There was a large crowd that night, and I sat with a church member in the balcony. I don't remember the message, but I seem to remember it being solid evangelicalism. It was conservative but generous. I belive that describes Stott fairly well. He was conservative, but as a British evangelical, he lacked the political aggressiveness that has often accompanied American evangelicals. I remember him being more conservative than most of my Fuller professors, some of whom shared his British Anglicanism, but not too far to the right.John Stott is representative of an older evangelicalism, which paired conservative theology with openness to culture and science. Perhaps it is because he is representative of a British evangelicalism that never sought political power, that he has stood the test of time. This book was originally written in the 1950s, and has been updated over the years to reflect changes in language, especially regarding gender, and the presence of newer translations. But, the content of the book has remained essentially the same. As Stott notes in the preface to the third edition, this is a period piece: "It reflects the culture of its own day and needs ot be allowed to remain itself." (p. ix). This book is what its title describes, a Basic Christianity. It has some similarities to Lewis' Mere Christianity, but it is more traditionally evangelical than Lewis's presentations. That may have to do in part with the fact that Stott was an evangelical and Lewis was not (despite the evangelical attraction to Lewis). It lacks the wit of Lewis, but might be at points a bit deeper. As the book moves through basic elements of the faith, touching mostly on matters of the identity of Jesus and the need for salvation, we move toward a call for decision. In other words, this is very much an evangelistic tool. I believe that the earlier edition was published by Intervarsity Press, but this is part of a series of reprints of Stott's books that are being released by Eerdmans Publishing Company. This particular edition carries with it a foreword by Rick Warren, who calls it a "classic of the Christian faith." So, if you're interested in basic Christianity of a conservative, but generous kind, this might be helpful. As for me, I'm a bit removed from it. I would have enjoyed it more in college, when I was in a different place theologically. Today it doesn't fit. But it will cover important bases if you're looking for a conservative case for Christianity.

  • Janet Richards
    2018-11-16 15:46

    I am reading several books to prepare for a Basics of the Christian faith book. I selected this book based on several recommendations. It is a good overall book, but with a Evangelistic bent. I was frustrated, however, upon finding several errors. One was a quote that proved to be completely wrong. The other was a few theological errors which was frustrating. The entire point of Basic Christianity is not introduce theology that is not very sound. This is a good book for someone who is already a Christian, but I would not find it that useful for people who are struggling with doubt. My concern is that the errors would throw them off from the core truth that should be the focus of a book that covers the foundations of the Christian faith. I don't anticipate drawing much material for my course from this book.

  • Brandon Current
    2018-12-03 22:56

    Read and Keep as ResourceStott's short, well organized book forms an excellent introduction or much needed re-introduction to Christianity. He does well to begin the book by addressing the necessary frame of mind for the reader to benefit from the claims of the book. The statements he makes throughout are a bold and assertive presentation of Christian belief, but are made in a disarming, non-confrontational way. The tone is warm and friendly, which is uncommon for what is basically an apologetic work. The book is a good resource for reaching both the sceptic and the nominal or unconverted Christian.

  • Seth Mcdevitt
    2018-12-07 16:36

    As this book suggests, it is basic, but that is what makes it so good. This would be a good and quick read for any new Christian or anyone who had questions about the faith. It is short easy to read, and filled with wonderful exposition and apology. If you've think you've got it all figured out, you could benefit from this book. It will cause you to recall the foundation of your faith, and the cornerstone of your salvation. This book is Christ applied and lived out. This is an absolute Christian essential.

  • Ryne Brewer
    2018-11-17 17:47

    Simple read. I would say for an introduction to Christianity it's a good one to open up. It's not the "best" but still think it's worth handing to someone who is on the fence or looking into Christianity. Quick read, chapters on Christ are like cookies on the bottom shelf "easy to grasp", the back half of the book is very fitting for pointing someone to the proper response and expectation for a life submitted to Jesus. Give it a read.

  • Bilal Ashrafov
    2018-11-26 20:39

    First of all, this book was written by John Stott (who is ranked №82 in “100 most influential people in the world” by TIME in 2005), a private counselor on the spiritual issues of the Queen of the United Kingdom. I can say that it comes at the head of the books that need to be read about Christianity. The writer has both religion knowledge and good narrative style.

  • Jeff
    2018-11-13 23:42

    So many better books on basic Christianity. I'd never give this to someone wondering about the religion or person of Jesus. Severely outdated feel and language in my opinion.

  • Hope Wiseman
    2018-12-07 16:44

    A concise and refreshing book on the basic tenants of Christianity.

  • Philippe Jean
    2018-12-06 17:51

    Good book for someone looking to lay a good Christian foundation

  • David
    2018-11-24 19:28

    Super basic book on becoming a Christian. Very well written. If you know someone who is searching for truth, give them a copy of this book.

  • Rex Blackburn
    2018-11-20 16:34

    Stott makes some good points in this book. It's notable that he assumes Biblical authority in this book, without giving reasons to trust the authority of the Scriptures.

  • Chad Grindstaff
    2018-11-20 22:44

    Excellent introduction to the Christian faith. I would recommend this very quickly to someone either investigating Christianity, or someone younger in their faith. Stott does a great job in this and it should be used as a resource across the board.

  • Emily
    2018-12-06 21:34

    I liked some of the ideas introduced in this book, but I wasn't crazy about the writing. Also, I do thank that this book would not cover all of the basics of Christianity. The writer assumes knowledge on the readers part that could be confusing for someone who starts the book without previous knowledge.

  • David Sarkies
    2018-11-20 22:44

    A relatively early gospel exposition23 September 2013 There seems to be a plethora of books that run upon the theme of this book: a basic outline of the Christian faith with a plea at the end to give one's life to Christ and then what to do once you have made that step. However this book was originally published a lot earlier than I though since I originally though that it was released sometime in the early 70s, though I now notice that this particular book was released back in the late 50s. It sort of undermines my argument a bit, but I think I will still go down that path considering that I will be looking at why so many of these books have been written in the last forty to fifty years when you didn't actually get anywhere near as many published beforehand. My suspicion is that it is because there was a change in society's attitude during the 50s that suddenly exploded in the 60s, that being the realisation that one did not need to go to church every Sunday, and then the general acceptance that one did not need to be a Christian to be a member of society. Okay, there had been debates for the previous 200 years over the truth of Christianity, however many of the loudest opponents of Christianity were still in the minority. This began to change in the 50s and the 60s with the baby boomers beginning to throw off the shackles of society and beginning to embrace their own freedom. Up until that point, pretty much everybody went to church, and it was only the die hard academics that would be promoting Atheism. This began to change, and the main reason that it began to change was that the idea of separation of church and state began to grow, a separation that basically said that there should be no national church, and that any church could co-exist within the state. This movement began in the United States and slowly spread across the Atlantic to Europe. Once the acceptance of multiple denominations co-existing had been established, it was a small step to take to accept that people not only did not need to belong to specific national denomination, but did not need to be a Christian, or follow the Christian creed, if they did not want to. Thus the reason we are seeing pretty much every pastor and his dog writing a tract, book, or bible study, on what Christianity is and what it means to be a Christian, and how to be a Christian, is because people are not going to church any more, and because they are not going to church, they are no longer regularly exposed to Christian teaching. Okay, when people did regularly go to church, a lot of them weren't exposed to such teaching either, however things were beginning to change around the time Stott wrote this book. As for the book itself, I found that it was very basic and there was nothing here that I had not read before. The book begins with evidence supporting the existence of Christ and his divinity, then goes on to his death and resurrection, and finishes off with how one becomes a Christian and then what one does after one becomes a Christian. However there are a few problems. First of all, he writes as if Jesus is the only God-man in myth that took human form, died, and rose again. That, frankly, is wrong. Okay, the difference is that Jesus' incarnation and resurrection occurred in history as opposed to legend, but once again he is not the only one. As C.S. Lewis once indicated, the only thing that separates Christianity from the other religions is not the incarnation, the virgin birth, or the resurrection, but grace. Secondly the thing about living a Christian life is very objective and does not seem to recognise that one's relationship with God, like all other relationships, exists on a subjective level. Okay, the ideas of reading the Bible and regularly praying are helpful, but I get the feeling that the evangelical Anglican movement (in fact the entire evangelical movement) has a very problematic attitude towards subjectivism to the point that the idea seems to scare them, and in respose tries to create a robotic, objective, version of Christianity. Finally, the idea about sin was particularly harsh. Stott's writing suggests that the world is full of monstrous self-centered individuals, and while I don't accept the idea that everybody by nature is good, I feel that he has gone the opposite direction. Granted, in God's eyes we are all monstrous, but the problem with the teaching is it instils such a huge amount of guilt into people that it can be very difficult to escape. My position is that yes, in God's eyes, we are all monsters, but subjectively, people differ and differ a lot. There are a lot of really nice, helpful, and selfless non-Christians out there, and a lot of greedy, arrogant, and tyrannical Christians (or at least call themselves Christians). Somehow we need to find a way to create some sort of balance with these opposing truths.

  • Mark Oppenlander
    2018-12-07 22:37

    I first gave this book three stars but after a day or two of reflection, I have scaled it back to just two. I picked this up after hearing the Reverend Earl Palmer describe it as a book that "every thinking Christian should read." Most of the things Earl recommends are solid, so when I stumbled across a copy of this in a box of giveaway books, I picked it up.The book itself is a straightforward Christian apologetic, with Stott making the case for the historical Jesus, followed by an explication of what is unique about Christ and why mankind needs salvation. All fine so far.But its the tone of the book that I don't care for. Stott works like a lawyer, making his case, building point upon point. But each time Stott makes one of his points, he quickly moves to a pompous-sounding declarative statement, rather than letting an intelligent reader draw their own conclusions. For example, he might conclude a section with something like: "thus we can see that the only possible conclusion to be reached is that Jesus Christ was not just a prophet but the Lord of the Universe," (a paraphrase, but you get the idea). The conclusions feel rather like an insider talking to other insiders and they are rather off-putting.The other concern I have is that Stott puts a large amount of his emphasis on personal sin and our responsibility for it. I understand that this is a hallmark of evangelicalism (and I consider myself an evangelical still), but he makes this emphasis to the exclusion of any sense of corporate or organizational sin. In his effort to emphasize the need for personal confession and repentance, he lets churches and other institutions off the hook. He even goes so far as to say that the passages in Revelation that are written to the churches are really written to the individuals in those churches. This seems to me to be bending the scripture to say what you want it to say, rather than letting it speak for itself and wrestling with the ambiguities it expresses.Suffice it to say that I would not give this book to an unbeliever who was considering Christianity, as I think it would send them off the path altogether. It makes one appreciate what C.S. Lewis was able to accomplish with his many excellent apologetics. Lewis writes in an accessible, unpretentious and winsome way that I think appeals to believers and unbelievers alike. Stott is too heavy-handed for my taste.

  • Tina
    2018-11-24 20:36

    I just started chapter 3 of Basic Christianity I just figured out what was bothering me. It's not what is being said, although there is a clear bias which the author himself fret admits to (I only hate a bias if the source tries to hide it). What's bothering me is that while Bible verses & religious leaders are cited, secular writings have not been so far. For instance, on page forty-six, Stott properly cites The Fact of Christ when he quotes it, but does not cite the Napoleon quote he used. Even though the Napoleon quote more clearly illustrates his point, I feel the lack of citation weakens the point. Consistency either way would have better served the argument.--->correction- on the same page he proceeds to not cite a quote from the Bible, so this is truly just a lack of consistency in citation. But it still annoys me.Basic Christianity, with or without bias or argument, should detail basic Christianity. It's in the title, it's in the Rick Warren quote that makes up most of the description- "To be able to have an intelligent conversation with one third of our world's population you need to understand their worldview...[this book] is a classic introduction to the faith." It's in the actual description, "Here is a sound, sensible quide for all who seek an intellectually satisfying of the Christian faith." That is not what this book is. This isn't a Christian saying "Here's what I believe", this is a Christian saying "Here's why you have to believe what I believe." On page 120 he acctually wrote "We don't need at this point to go into the intricacies of what Christians believe about the Trinity." It's not that he wants to go into that at another point, he never goes into it. Overall I would say that this isn't the book for someone who is seeking faith. This is a book for someone who already believes in Christianty, and who understands some of the intricacies that this book will never address or explain. This isn't "basic" Christianity, this is "somewhat advanced" Christianity for Christians who already know what they believe and why.

  • Geoff Parlett
    2018-11-21 21:57

    My Christian reading and my spiritual thought life tends to run to the margins. I like to re-center at least once a year with a book like this. FYI I find it hilarious now that when I was in college Stott was a little too liberal for my taste. Ah how times change :-). Or well, how I change, I guess. selected quotes:The most striking feature of the teach Jesus is that he was constantly talking about himself... This self-centredeness of the teaching of Jesus immediately sets his apart from the other great religious teachers of the world. They were self-effacing. He was self-advancing. They pointed men away from themselves, saying, 'That is the truth, so far as I perceive it; follow that.' Jesus said, 'I am the truth; follow me.' -p 23Christ's favorite name for him [The Holy Spirit] was the Comforter, the 'Paraclete'. It is a legal term, denoting a barrister, an advocate, a counsel for the defence. It would be the Holy Spirit's task to plead the cause of Jesus before the World, 'He will bear witness to me', said Jesus. p 25Above all he was unselfish. Nothing is more striking that this. Although believing himself to be divine, he did not put on airs or stand on his dignity. He was never pompous. There was no touch self-importance about Jesus. He was humble. It is this paradox which is so baffling, this combination of the self-centredness of his teaching and the unself-centredness of his behaviour. In thought he put himself first; in deed last. p 43If you want to live a life of easy-going self-indulgence, whatever you do, do not become a Christian. But if you want a life of self-discovery, deeply satisfying to the nature God has given you; if you want a life of adventure in which you have the privilege of serving him and your fellow men; if you want a life in which to express something of the overwhelming gratitude you are beginning to feel for him who died for you, then I would urge you to yield your life, without reserve and without delay, to your Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. - p119