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Basic Christianity by John R. W. Stott
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Basic Christianity (original 1965; edition 1981)

by John R. W. Stott

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Member:ebreezy
Title:Basic Christianity
Authors:John R. W. Stott
Info:Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1981), Edition: Revised, Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Christian

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Basic Christianity by John R. W. Stott (1965)

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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. ( )
  David.Alfred.Sarkies | Mar 24, 2014 |
[loaned to Matt/Jaime]
  cayswann | Dec 4, 2006 |
Although I wouldn't rank this book as high up as, say, C.S. Lewis' _Mere Christianity_, I would still recommend it for a basic introduction to Christianity. Beginning with a few chapters on the evidence of Christ's ministry on earth, Stott continues on to show that all are sinners, and that we all have a need for the forgiveness Christ offers in the cross. This was all great and encouraging reading.

The last few chapters -- covering the appropriate response to what the previous chapters explained -- left me a little unsatisfied. Stott valuably explained the need to count the cost of submitting to Christ's lordship, but he offered scant advice on how to live after becoming a Christian, and what Christians' purpose is on earth. What little he *did* say was good, but in a primer on the Christian faith, I would like to see more about how to live in the church, and how to advance Christ's kingdom on earth. A little more practical advice here and there would have been nice.

So, good stuff. But _Mere Christianity_ is still my favorite. ( )
  joshuamclark | Jul 10, 2006 |
A really well written, clear and logical presentation of the foundations of the Christian faith. There were some insights which expressed things that I have believed for some time, but which I don't recall seeing so concisely and clearly summarised anywhere else. ( )
  tcarter | Apr 24, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802811892, Paperback)

World-renowned scholar and preacher John R.W. Stott embarks on a compelling course of study that first defends the fundamental claims of Christianity and then defines the proper overworkings of these basic beliefs in the daily lives of believers. Here is a sound, sensible guide for those who are seeking an intellectually satisfying presentation of the Christian faith.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:44 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"We must commit ourselves, heart and mind, soul and will, personally and unreservedly, to Jesus Christ. We must humble ourselves before him. We must trust him as our Savior and submit to him as our Lord; and then go on to take our place as loyal members of the church and responsible citizens in the community. This is basic Christianity, the theme of this book." With these words, world-renowned preacher John Stott embarks on a compelling study that first defends the basic claims of Christianity and then defines the proper outworkings of those main beliefs in the daily lives of believers. --from publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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