Is the atoning blood of Christ central?
October 14, 2015
Inter Varsity Press (UK) have made this announcement in the last couple of weeks regarding a merger with SPCK. It's pretty depressing news, which appears, in many ways, to be driven by market forces and the need to survive. The official announcement states 'SPCK will ensure IVP is fully resourced to thrive as an evangelical Christian publisher in the digital era. IVP will maintain its brand identity, conservative evangelical ethos, and relationships with authors, publishers and long-time customers.' If church history teaches us anything it is that SPCK is more likely to influence IVP than vice versa.
The announcement reminded me of John Stott's preface to the Cross of Christ. Stott wrote 'It is appropriate that a book on the cross should form part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Inter-Varsity Press to which the whole Christian reading public is greatly indebted. For the cross is at the centre of evangelical faith.' He goes on to recount how CICCU (Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union) disaffiliated from the Student Christian Movement in 1910 over SCM's liberal tendencies:
After the First World War ended in 1918, many ex-servicemen went up to Cambridge as students. CICCU by now was much smaller than the SCM. Yet the SCM leaders (notably Charles Raven, the Dean of Emmanuel) made overtures to CICCU, hoping that they would rejoin and supply the missing devotional warmth and evangelistic thrust. To resolve the issue, Daniel Dick and Norman Grubb (President and Secretary of CICCU) met the SCM committee in the rooms of their secretary Rollo Perry in Trinity Great Court. Here is Norman Grubb's own account of the crucial issue:
... After an hour's talk I asked Rollo point blank, 'Does the SCM put the atoning blood of Jesus Christ central?' He hesitated, and then said , 'Well, we acknowledge it, but not necessarily central.' Dan Dick and I then said that this settled the matter for us in CICCU. We could never join something that did not maintain the atoning blood of Jesus Christ as its centre; and we parted company''. (Stott, The Cross of Christ, pp. 13-14)
One might wish that someone like Norman Grubb had been in the room when IVP merging with SPCK was discussed.