The Stott literary legacy 2

Kanishka Raffel chooses a favorite book

The Cross of Christ
John Stott
InterVarsity Press 1989
ISBN 9780851106748

The Cross of Christ was the first Christian book I owned other than the Bible. It is one of only two or three books that I re-read, either in whole or part, every year. It is well known and well loved for its thoroughgoing exposition of the meaning and significance of the work of the Lord Jesus in his death upon the Cross. The scriptural, historical and theological rigour of Stott’s articulation of the meaning of the cross is amply demonstrated in his gracious but exacting response to critiques of the evangelical doctrine of the atonement.

Stott affirms not only the centrality of the Cross for understanding Christianity, but the centrality of ‘satisfaction through substitution’ for understanding the Cross (page 159). Stott expounds the bible’s images of the atonement—propitiation, redemption, justification and reconciliation—and demonstrates how substitution is ‘the essence of each image and the heart of atonement itself’ (page 203).

He engages with historical and contemporary debates with typical generosity and resolute fidelity to Scripture. But the book is no mere textbook. It is steeped in reverent praise of the crucified and risen Lord who gave himself for his people. Part Four of the book, ‘Living Under the Cross’, is a manual for disciples who have been summoned to ‘take up your cross and follow’. Stott describes a life of joyful fellowship and service, generosity and forgiveness, endurance and hope; a life infused with the transforming power of the Cross of Christ. The book concludes with seven affirmations about the cross drawn from the Letter to the Galatians. One could hardly hope for a better seven day cycle of meditations on Christian life and service.

Kanishka Raffel is Rector of St Matthew’s Shenton Park, Perth.