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The Shadow of the Cross: Studies in…

The Shadow of the Cross: Studies in Self-Denial (edition 2021)

by Walter J. Chantry (Author)

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This book restores to its central place the teaching of Christ about taking up the cross, and living for him rather than ourselves.
Title:The Shadow of the Cross: Studies in Self-Denial
Authors:Walter J. Chantry (Author)
Info:Banner of Truth (2021), Edition: Second, 80 pages
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Shadow of the Cross: Studies in Self Denial by Walter J. Chantry


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Walter Chantry has selected seven pertinent texts to the subject of self-denial and devotes one short chapter to each. The first chapter is headed by 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (which reads in part: “that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.“) This he calls “Paul’s grand explanation of the Christian life” (p. 10). Chantry is convinced that “denial of self is the key to the solution of numerous practical questions which perplex the sober-minded believer of today” (p. 7). How do we encourage its practice? “Nothing leads to self-repudiation so much as spiritual meditation on the corruption and wickedness of your heart. If your soul has grasped human depravity you have been forced to deny yourself” (p. 9).

Chapter 2 is a very illuminating and thought-provoking discussion of Christ’s commands to every disciple to “deny himself” and “take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23-24). The two commands are synonymous: “Jesus’ figure of bearing a cross is an elaboration of his demand for self-denial. Bearing a cross is every Christian’s daily, conscious selection of those options which will please Christ, pain self, and aim at putting self to death” (p. 25).

In chapter 3 Chantry reveals the ”Joy Beyond the Cross” (based on Luke 18:29,30), encapsulating the idea that taking up one’s cross is not the rejection of happiness, but rather it is the only pathway to happiness. “In our Lord’s view, his own cross was not all bleak” (p. 31-32), Chantry says, because of the joy set before him. The same is true for the believer: “the only lasting and fully satisfying joys for any man lie on the other side of a cross” (p. 32). Ironically, this is the same truth with which John Piper grapples in many of his writings. However, the two men approach the subject from opposite angles. Piper begins his analysis by focusing on this “fully satisfying joy“, exclaiming that it is worth denying and forsaking all lesser joys to obtain this promised end . Chantry instead emphasizes the road of self-denial, exclaiming, almost as though by surprise, that there is joy to be found at the end.

Chantry continues by the relating place of self-denial to Christian liberty (chapter 4), marriage (chapter 5), the Christian ministry (chapter 6), and finally prayer (chapter 7).

Though all are helpful, I found his most poignant chapter to be the one on Christian ministry (p. 57ff) in which he accuses modern churches (hence their pastors) of giving “the distinct impression that the one who waits on tables is vastly more important than those who sit at tables” (p. 58). Self-denial in a minister will begin with his attitude regarding his calling (p. 57-58), but it will display itself in his bearing toward the flock of God (p. 60). A church, unlike a government, “may be as much injured by tyranny as by anarchy” (p. 61). He speaks of the ease with which “zeal for truth and righteousness mixes with an inflated self-esteem in the elder” (ibid.). He warns of the “audacity which decides that advancement in sanctification must be made at once! But no elder has been called to chart the timetable of growth in grace” (p. 62-63). He insists that “ministers must know how to lose arguments on non-essential matters” (p. 63) and laments the “disgraceful fact” that some ministers “have a habit of dominating discussion on every subject“ (ibid.). He warns that “it is possible to silence men by sheer force of verbiage without convincing them” (p. 64). In all this he pleads that “imitation of Jesus Christ is needed” (ibid.).

The “cross” is not only the chief symbol of God’s love, it is a principle of Christian experience. Every disciple is called to deny himself and take up his cross. And when he does, he finds that there is joy in living in its shadow. ( )
  trbixby | Aug 23, 2007 |
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