John Stott and the 50th anniversary of Basic Christianity
This past week, I received a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of John Stott's widely acclaimed best-seller, Basic Christianity. I first read this book in December 1971 as a thoroughly agnostic non-church-going freshman at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. I was reading Karl Popper at the time fascinated by his advancing of the method of empirical falsification. My world consisted of physics, mathematics and some of the philosophical assumptions in vogue in the sixties. And, of course, Wagner!
Then along came John Stott's Basic Christianity.
"Out of the blue" it came (through the mail in fact from a friend who had just been converted to Christianity) and I began to read it. I didn't stop until the last page when I fell on my knees late one evening and asked if God was there, that he'd make himself known to me.
Or something like that. To be honest, I knew nothing about Christianity and even less about the Bible. But John Stott's Basic Christianity introduced me to Jesus Christ who, until that time, had been but a swear word.
Re-reading Basic Christianity has been a moving experience for me for at least three reasons:
First, I remain as convinced now, thirty-seven years later, as I was that day in December that Jesus Christ is both the only God there is and that his sacrificial, propitiating death on my behalf is the only hope I have of reconciliation with God.
Second, I remain as convinced now as I was then, that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God. I had never opened the Bible until that day (in fact, I didn't possess one), but as soon as I did, I knew immediately that this was no ordinary book that I was reading. Men were speaking in it to be sure, but they spoke "from God" (2 Pet. 1:21).
Third, I remain convinced now as I became convinced then that nominal Christianity wasn't enough to save. As John Stott himself wrote in Basic Christianity:
"The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers - the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called 'nominal Christianity'. In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit the convenience. no wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism." (p. 108).
Thank you, Dr. Stott.
To purchas Basic Christianity by Dr. Stott click here.
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