Stott on the Christian Life: Between Two Worlds by Tim Chester is the latest installment in the excellent, Theologians of the Christian Life, edited by Stephen J. Nichols and Justin Taylor. John Stott was a formidable figure in the evangelical world, a reality that is seen throughout in Chester’s offering.
The author begins with a biographical survey of Stott’s life and serves as a fitting introduction to the uninitiated. Once the groundwork is laid, Chester launches readers on a tour of Stott’s life that is both informative and inspiring.
Stott’s work on the evangelical mind played a significant role in my own Christian pilgrimage. His book, Your Minds Matters, was formative and helped establish early convictions as a young evangelical. Stott’s emphasis on creation, revelation, redemption, and judgment (which are the key pillars in the Christian worldview) help establish him as a key voice among evangelical leaders.
Stott was a model preacher and an excellent example of a man who labored over the biblical text and was committed to delivering expository sermons:
It stands to reason that every recovery of confidence in the Word of God, and so in a living God who spoke and speaks, however, this truth may be defined, is bound to result in a recovery of preaching … Nothing, it seems to me, is more important for the life and growth, health and depth of the contemporary church than a recovery of serious biblical preaching.
His expositional commentaries have been a major help in my own sermon preparation and have helped thousands of expositors for years.
Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ, which many (myself included) regard as one of the best books ever written on the subject, is highlighted here. The Cross of Christ was his “greatest achievement,” and considered his magnum opus. The treatment of propitiation, redemption, reconciliation, and justification in this work is unparalleled and should be considered essential reading for pastors and students of theology.
While Stott held a high view of the authority of Scripture, one disappointment is his departure from the historic and orthodox teaching concerning eternal punishment. Chester adds, “Stott refused to ‘dogmatism’ about his position and asked people not to speak of his ‘endorsement of annihilationism.” Chester adds, “ … many assumed annihilations involved a denial of the authority of Scripture. Stott, though, explicitly warned against asking what one’s heart says rather than asking what God’s word says.”
I am impressed with the way that Chester handles Stott’s annihilationism. He does not shy away from the controversy, but he also continues to pay proper respect to the man he regards so highly. His even-handed approach should be emulated.
In the remainder of the book, Chester focuses on several matters that concern Stott’s view of sanctification, evangelism, social matters, and the lordship of Christ.
The final chapter is a wonderful summary of John Stott’s life and ministry. This is a life that can be summed up in his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of his gospel. Stott gave his life for the great cause of the gospel. Tim Chester’s fine work bears this out in spades.