We often imagine Jesus as the ultimate peacemaker, as one who saw all sides and kindly overlooked differences of belief or practice. The Gospels say this was not so. Jesus drew sharp lines. He disagreed with many. He rejected being broadminded on a variety of topics. He engaged in vigorous debate, especially with several different groups of religious leaders. What conflicts did he have?
- He argued that we would experience a supernatural afterlife, that our natural existence is not all God has planned.
- He disagreed that human tradition should not supersede Scripture, our foundational authority.
- He clashed on whether the Bible was not an end in itself, contending that its purpose pointed beyond itself.
- He sharply articulated that God accept us by virtue of what we receive from him, not by what we do for him.
These and other controversies clarify the core distinctives of the Christian faith which, John Stott boldly asserts, are nothing less than the distinctives of the evangelical faith. This text of Stott's classic, Christ the Controversialist
, now edited by David Stone for the twenty-first century, was controversial when it was first published. It is no less controversial today.
John R. W. Stott (1921-2011) has been known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist and communicator of Scripture. For many years he served as rector of All Souls Church in London, where he carried out an effective urban pastoral ministry. A leader among evangelicals in Britain, the United States and around the world, Stott was a principal framer of the landmark Lausanne Covenant (1974). His many books have sold millions of copies around the world and in dozens of languages. Stott's best-known work, has sold two million copies and has been translated into more than 60 languages. Other titles include and a daily devotional. He has also written eight volumes in series of New Testament expositions. Whether in the West or in the Two-Thirds World, a hallmark of Stott's ministry has been expository preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. Stott was honored by magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" and was named in the Queens New Years Honours list as Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1969, Stott founded the Langham Trust to fund scholarships for young evangelical leaders from the Majority World. He then founded the Evangelical Literature Trust, which provided books for students, pastors and theological libraries in the Majority World. These two trusts continued as independent charities until 2001, when they were joined as a single charity: the Langham Partnership. Langham's vision continues today to see churches in the Majority World equipped for mission and growing to maturity in Christ through nurturing national movements for biblical preaching, fostering the creation and distribution of evangelical literature, and enhancing evangelical theological education.
Every thoughtful Christian ought to read this classic exposition of evangelical essentials. Though written more than forty years ago, its central message stands and is needed today more than ever. John Stott expounds persuasively, generously, lucidly and with penetrating insight what it means to be faithful to Jesus Christ. This is a brilliant book.
director of the Proclamation Trust's Cornhill Training Course
I vividly recall reading this book in its earliest version forty years ago, and it contained the stand-out set of arguments that persuaded me to commit my life to Christ later that year. Thank you, John, for all that has meant to me since.
-Dr. Andrew Fergusson,
author and former head of communications, Christian Medical Fellowship
This is, I believe, not only one of John Stott's finest books, but one of the most important to be written in recent decades. In a world which increasingly rejects the concept of truth, and a church often marked by doctrinal indifference, its appeal to submit to Christ's teaching concerning core convictions and his example in arguing for them is urgently needed.
rector of St. Ebbes, Oxford
This is vintage Stott--clear, biblical, passionate, thoughtful and Christ-centered. A magisterial defense of biblical, historic evangelical Christianity. By brilliant analysis of the debates of Jesus with the Pharisees and Sadducees of his day, he highlights modern versions of the same distortions. Profound, lucid and compelling, this book is as relevant to current debates as when it was first published.
emeritus professor of neonatal paediatrics at University College London