|This is a post by a mother who has a son like Adam Lanza.|
current events at www.thebluereview.org
|This is a post by a mother who has a son like Adam Lanza.|
What reasons do you have for praising the Lord this Thanksgiving?
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits –
Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
What is the takeaway for being a Christian? Are you a praising follower of Jesus? If you were asked why you were a Christian what would you say? Do you have a testimony you can share? “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) What reasons do you have for praising the Lord? These are mine.
I want to live for the highest and best purpose I can in the years God has given me on this earth. I don’t want to waste my life. God who created me has the highest and best purpose for my life. He knows what is best for me. I trust him. He has given me the unearned, undeserved, gift of faith in him.
“He has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He chose me in him before the creation of the world, to be holy in his sight. In love he predestined me to be adopted as his son through Jesus Christ. He lavished on me all wisdom and understanding.” (Eph.1:3-10)
I am a miserable sinner who needs redemption: forgiveness and transformation. God loved me so much that he came in Jesus to die for my sins and to give me his empowering Spirit. He has given me his written Word, the Bible to reveal himself to me, to teach me, rebuke me, correct me, guide me equip me, train me in righteousness, and nourish my spirit. He has given me his family, the Church, to encourage and support me in my journey.
He has never let me down, even though I have let him down on many occasions. He has blessed me with a wonderful wife and family, and many friends. He has given me the privilege of communicating his Gospel for nearly fifty years. I have never lacked opportunity to serve him and others. He has given me a rich intellectual life, and a love of books, through the world of authors. He has generously provided for me wherever I have lived. He has prepared a place for me in his holy city, the new Jerusalem. No one can snatch me from his hand, nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. Eternal life in his kingdom is an exciting adventure. Do I have enough reasons for praising the Lord? Do you? What is your testimony?
I came across this beautiful expression of death and eternal life in Henri Nouwen’s little classic, Living as the Beloved. It speaks for itself.
“We are sent into this world for a short time to say – through the joys and pains of our clock-time – the great ‘Yes’ to the love that has been given to us and in so doing return to the One who sent us with that ‘Yes’ engraved on our hearts. Our death thus becomes the moment of return. But our death can be this only if our whole life has been a journey back to the One from whom we come and who calls us the Beloved. There is such confusion about the idea of a life ‘hereafter,’ or ‘the eternal life.’ Personally, I do believe deeply in the eternal life, but not simply as a life after our physical death. It is only when we have claimed for ourselves the life of God’s Spirit during the many moments of our ‘chronology’ that we expect death to be the door to the fullness of life. Eternal life is not some great surprise that comes unannounced at the end of our existence in time; it is, rather, the full revelation of what we have been and have lived all along. The evangelist John expresses this succinctly when he says: ‘My dear people, what we are to be in the future has not yet been recorded; all we know is that, when it is recorded, we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.’
With this vision, death is no longer the ultimate defeat. To the contrary, it becomes the final ‘Yes’ and the great return to where we can most fully become children of God. I don’t think that many people look at death this way. Instead of seeing it as a moment of fulfillment, they fear it as the great failure to be kept at bay for as long as possible. All that our society has to say suggests that death is the great enemy who will finally get the better of us against us against our will and desire. But thus perceived, life is little more than a losing battle, a hopeless struggle, a journey of despair. My own vision and yours too, I hope, is radically different. Even though I often give in to the many fears and warnings of my world, I still believe deeply that our few years on this earth are part of a much larger event that stretches out far beyond the boundaries of our birth and death. I think of it as a mission into time, a mission that is very exhilarating and even exciting, mostly because the One who sent me on the mission is waiting for me to come home and tell the story of what I have learned.
Am I afraid to die? I am every time I let myself be seduced by the noisy voices of my world telling me that my ‘little life’ is all I have and advising me to cling to it with all my might. But then I let these voices move to the background of my life and listen to that small soft voice calling me the Beloved. I know that there is nothing to fear and that dying is the greatest act of love, the act that leads me into the eternal embrace of my God whose love is everlasting.”
Living as the Beloved, Henri Nouwen, pp.136-139
Eric Gill (1882-1941) was a famous sculptor, engraver, designer of typefaces and drawer of some of the finest nude studies of the twentieth century. He was also a devout Roman Catholic. His philosophy of life and work caused him to be critical of the welfare state that enabled people to retire into leisure and so deny them the need to fulfill their lives in creative work. He wrote about the tragedy of state-sponsored idleness and paid unemployment. Work, to Gill, was sacred. It was the vocation of man. Take away work, take away the incentive to work, the opportunity to work, and you take away the purpose of life.
His writings are worth quoting because they are relevant to the debate about the nature of mankind.
“The nature of man is likeness to God – for God created him in his image. He is a rational soul. The purpose of his existence is to know God, to serve God and to love God on earth and to be with him eternally in heaven. The manner of man’s existence is incarnation. He is spirit and matter…. It is the spiritual which determines man in his species….
It is significant that the rising of what we call modern science synchronized with the throwing off of spiritual authority. We have deliberately thrown off the ‘easy yoke’ and ‘light burden’ and have placed ourselves under the hard taskmaster of immutable and impersonal ‘laws of nature’, and this has been done in the name of freedom. The highest virtue we can attempt to claim is a stoical courage in the face of a meaningless concatenation of fortuitous circumstances. Such is the freedom of the sons of science.
Our fault is that we have sought freedom – we found an iron law of causality. We sought free-thought – we found psychological determinism. We sought free love – we found we had lost Love itself. Dear silly sheep, we have lost the Shepherd and found only the wolves.
We have thrown away free will. We do not like to be held responsible. We like to be treated as animals, automatons. When the psychologist says, ‘it is heredity, it is early environment, it is a complex’, we applaud. When Augustine says ‘it is sin’, we deride. The word ‘sin’ has become almost meaningless; it has become a sentimental word like ‘art’.”
Gill was contemptuous of consumerism, and of the industrialization of products. He was an artist who made his own way despite the tumultuous times in which he lived. His life and legacy are well worth studying. He should inspire us to live out our vocations according to our gifts and opportunities.
Each morning I am reading portions of Diary of a Soul, by Pennar Davies. I came across it when I was in London before Christmas and found it recommended by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, who wrote the foreword. Davies (1911-1996), the son of a coal miner, was educated at the University College of Wales, at Cardiff, Balliol and Mansfield Colleges at Oxford, and Yale University, where he gained his Ph.D. He was a highly regarded Welsh Congregational minister and academic. Well known in the literary life of Wales for half a century as a prophetic preacher, historian, novelist, short story writer, poet and literary critic, he campaigned throughout his life for the Welsh language. His Diary has just recently been translated into English and become available to a wider audience.
His writing is very honest, and lyrical, as you would expect of a Welshman with their gift of lyrical speech. He is Christ-centered as well as personally transparent. Here is an example.
“The Gospels present the life of Jesus as something that is totally different to the ascetic life of John the Baptist. The Good News is something to be enjoyed to the full – that was life for Jesus, and he did not expect his disciples to follow the severe practices of John. He offended many of his religious contemporaries by eating and drinking, and eating and drinking often in the company of the disreputable. There is nothing ‘ascetic’ in his poverty and work. These originated in his being the Son of God and his saving mission and his evangelical values.
“On the other hand, the life of Jesus is very different from the picture of him that was formed in the imagination of the romantic poets and the liberal theologians. For these he was the apostle of the natural life and of the open air, a man who challenged the narrow standards of his age, a man who broke the rules by cherishing the glory of man and earth, a man who desired freedom for the inherent goodness of human nature.
“The truth is that the Lord Jesus Christ was, and is, a savior. He could see the true glory of man and earth – he could also see their need, he could see their corrupt condition, he could see that they were without hope apart from the Great Sacrifice.
“His personal life is, therefore, a pattern of freedom and dedication – freedom from the shackles of imperfect, corrupt, enslaving standards, and of commitment to the saving work.
“Freedom and dedication. To what degree does my personal life show that I belong to the Lord Jesus?
“It is pleasant to meditate on Jesus in the days of his flesh: what he wrote on the earth, the hands that blessed the children, the feet that walked towards Jerusalem, the back that sank under the cross, the eyes that looked at the penitent thief, the head which bowed in death. I shall endeavor in meditation to draw near to him and look at the weals and scars on his skin and hear his breathing and his laughter and touch his hand.
“He was a man of flesh and blood, the Divine Love shining on every gesture and word, on every scowl and smile.
“Oh Lord Jesus, oh Splendor of the Eternal, oh Fellow Man, draw me close to Yourself. You are the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. Oh Wonder of the Ages, you desire to be our friend. Accept my hand into Your hand. I will go with You every step of the way. Amen.”
Jesus said to the disciples in the Upper Room: “If I had not come…” (John 15:22) and went on to mention the consequences of his not coming amongst them. Can you imagine what it would have been like if Jesus had not come?
A number of years ago a remarkable Christmas card was published by the title, “If Christ Had Not Come.” It was based on these words, “If I had not come….” (John 15:22). The card pictured a minister falling asleep in his study on Christmas morning and then dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.
In his dream, he saw himself walking through his house, but as he looked, he saw no Christmas decorations, no Christmas tree, no wreaths, no lights, no crèche, no Christmas cards, and no Christ to comfort and gladden hearts or to save us. He then walked onto the street outside, but there was no church with its spire pointing toward heaven. And when he came back and sat down in his library, he realized that every book about our Savior had disappeared. There were no carols or Christian music on the radio and no choirs or Christmas concerts on television.
The minister dreamed that the doorbell rang and that a messenger asked him to visit a friend’s poor, dying mother. He reached her home, and as his friend sat and wept, he said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi. There was no Christmas story, no angelic chorus, no shepherds or Wise Men, no Sermon on the Mount, no parables, no miracles, no “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” There was no gospel, no light of the world, no “God so loved the world”, no Lord’s Prayer, and no promise of hope and salvation, and all he could do was bow his head and weep with his friend and his mother in bitter despair.
Two days later he stood beside her coffin and conducted her funeral service, but there was no message of comfort, no words of a glorious resurrection, and no thought of a mansion awaiting her in heaven. There was only “dust to dust, and ashes to ashes,” and one long, eternal farewell. Finally he realized that Christ had not come, and burst into tears, weeping bitterly in his sorrowful dream. There would be no Easter, and no hope of the kingdom of heaven and an age to come.
Then suddenly he awoke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing these words in his church nearby:
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come and behold him, born the King of angels,
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!
Sometimes you have to go without something before you appreciate it. What if we were to have to go without Christmas, go without Christ? What if Christ had not come for us? What would our lives be like? Would Christ be missed? Would our lives go on as they are without a missing a beat, and be filled up with other interests and distractions from Christ?
How much do we take the coming of Christ for granted? What would it be like for someone for whom has not come? Someone who has never heard of the Gospel, for whom the meaning of Christmas is not the coming of Christ? What would we want to do for someone who could not celebrate Christmas because they were ignorant of it? Would we not want to share all that Christ means to us with them: his peace, his love, and his joy? Would we not want them to enjoy what we have taken for granted each year? Would we not want to invite them to join us in celebrating his coming and continual presence in our midst by His Spirit?
Let us be glad and rejoice today, because Christ has come. And let us remember the proclamation of the angel: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11)
Christmas is meant to be for all the people in the world. We are called to communicate the message of the angels to all people so that they can enter into and enjoy the good news of great joy. May our hearts go out to all those in the world who have no understanding of Christmas day.
“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
(Adapted from L.B. Cowman , Streams in the Desert, December 25)
Yesterday Antoinette and I participated in the John Stott Memorial Service at the College Church at Wheaton, IL. Some 700 people gathered to pay tribute to John. There have been over 30 Memorial Services for him all over the world. On the back of the bulletin his daily prayer was printed. It is worth sharing.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life:
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me.
Almighty God, Creator and sustainer of the universe, I worship you.
Lord Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord of the World, I worship you.
Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the people of God, I worship you.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever. Amen.
Disheartening. Profoundly disheartening.
That’s the word I would use to describe the kerfuffle over Robert Jeffress and his comments on Mitt Romney and Mormonism, as well as the strange, confused, often-angry conversation that has followed. I’ve been too buried in diapers and onesies to participate, but now that I sit down to write, I feel only discouragement — as a conservative and as an evangelical Christian.
Let’s be clear. However often we forget it, this is the first question we need to answer: How do we communicate the grace and the truth of the gospel in this situation? How, in this environment and these circumstances, do we be a people defined by Jesus Christ and his kingdom?
There is nothing gracious or compassionate in diluting the truth. However much the world might implore us to believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth, or that each person can define the truth for herself, or that any person who calls himself Christian must therefore be a Christian, we reject all of these claims. We speak the truth clearly, because the truth clarifies and liberates and heals. Mormonism professes to be a recovery of a pristine original Christianity, the Christianity of Jesus Christ. We disagree. Mormonism explicitly rejects the Christianity of the great western creeds. We affirm them. We believe that the Holy Spirit guided the church into those creeds as the right and best interpretation of the Scriptures. So Mormonism, in our view, is neither Christianity in its original sense nor in its traditional, historical sense.
Words have meanings. It is not hateful or arrogant or superior to delineate the boundaries of a religious tradition. It is necessary. It’s necessary because otherwise that tradition will cease to exist as such. If you cannot say This is Christian and This is not Christian, then everything is up for grabs and sooner or later there will be no such thing as a Christian tradition. We view the preservation of that tradition as the protection of God’s revelation. So we define Christianity in terms of its essential beliefs, practices and commitments. Mormonism does not, in our view, match that definition. I can explain further in another post.
But that does not mean that Mormonism is a cult. That does not mean it’s legitimate to attack a presidential candidate because he is not a Christian by the proper historical standards. And it does not mean that it’s okay to manipulate religious audiences for partisan political gain. In other words, it does not mean that it’s okay for evangelicals to act in the ways they’ve been acting. What kind of witness does this give to the world? What kind of witness does it give to Mormons?
Is it permissible to include a candidate’s faith in our assessment of that candidate? Absolutely. The Constitution prohibits a “religious test,” but that merely means the government cannot exclude a candidate by law because of his or her religious affiliation. It does not mean that a voter cannot assess a person’s faith and whether it would shape his actions in office. True faith shapes everything the person of faith does. Some religions are so offensive to the True and the Good and the Beautiful that they would, in effect, disqualify a candidate from my vote. I would be uncomfortable, for instance, having a Satanist in the White House. And some religions are so manifestly absurd that I could not respect a person of that faith enough to vote for him. I could not vote for a person who worshipped the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Mormonism falls into neither of those categories. Mormons uphold the personal, family and social values I hold dear. In many ways, the Mormon church has done so much more strongly and consistently than the American evangelical church. Even in the face of verbal and physical attacks, Mormons have stood fast on abortion and the definition of marriage. Mormons are deeply ethical, deeply patriotic, and deeply committed to life and family. Mormons also make arguments for their specific beliefs, and how their beliefs reflect the original meaning of the scriptures, that would surprise many evangelicals with their power. How many of my fellow evangelicals know, for instance, that Mormons defend their view that “As God now is, man may be” with reference to the Early Church Fathers’ teaching on theosis? I interpret the Greek teaching of deification differently, but the point is: if you didn’t know that Mormons justify their teaching of “becoming Gods” in this way (and know that the Mormon teaching regarding God’s past has greatly modulated over time), then you’re (I’m sorry) not very well informed on what Mormons believe and why they believe it.
The question then is whether specific Mormon beliefs would lead a President to behave or respond in ways that concern us. I’ve seen no credible argument that Mormon differences from traditional Christian theology would lead Mormons to act differently than traditional Christians in the Oval Office. We know Mitt Romney’s commitments on ethical and political matters. We don’t need to speculate on how a finely-cut (albeit important) theological difference might make Mitt mishandle a national crisis. We can judge his commitments and his character on the basis of his record and his platform.
I agree with Robert Jeffress that it’s important to have a leader who honors biblical principles — and I believe that Mitt honors the principles of love and grace, life and family, wisdom and stewardship just as well, if not better, than candidates like Rick Perry. I know many people who know Mitt and they all, every single one, speak in the highest terms of his integrity and his moral commitments. He was not always pro-life, but he appears to have sincerely seen the light on the issue, and ever since then he’s stood up for pro-life causes even in the face of withering criticism from the overwhelmingly liberal Massachusetts electorate.
I also believe that God blesses a nation that honors Him, but I see no evidence that America has fared better — materially or spiritually — under born-again believers than it has under others. Should we have voted for Carter over Reagan because he was/is an evangelical? Nations that honor God are blessed because they live according to values and principles that bring life and healing and flourishing. Mormons have inherited those values and principles from the Christian tradition — a fact for which we should be grateful, since Mormons have fought with conservative evangelicals on every major moral/cultural issue in the last few decades.
I don’t blame Dr. Robert Jeffress — not much, at least. Evangelicals in general have been systematically misinformed about Mormonism through books like Walter Martin’s The Kingdom of the Cults. Jeffress was repeating what he had heard all his life. He believes he’s defending the salvific truth.
I blame the Rick Perry campaign. If you believe that they had no idea what Dr Jeffress intended to say, then you must not follow politics much. This was calculated, and executed as intended. Whether Perry himself knew what was coming, of course I cannot say. But you can be confident his campaign knew. With their support in free-fall, and anxious to reestablish themselves as the Romney-Alternative for evangelicals, they used a pastor proxy to say that Mitt’s a “cult” member and that no Christian, given a good Christian alternative candidate, should vote for him. You can also be sure that the Perry campaign is, even as we speak, speaking with evangelical luminaries and trying to line up their support and keep the Mormonism critique going. They want Perry to be The Evangelical Candidate, and they’re doing so by posing themselves over against The Mormon Candidate.
Make no mistake. ”Cult” is an explosive term, and they knew what they were doing. Some have tried to walk that language back and say that Mormonism is a “cult” in the theological but not sociological sense. That’s nonsense. James Emery White, for instance, defines a “cult” as “a religious group that denies the biblical nature of God, the full divinity of Jesus Christ, and that we are only saved through His atoning death on the cross through grace.” By that definition, anything other than Christianity, and arguably anything other than Protestant evangelicalism, is a cult. Richard Land argues that “cult” has a specialized sense in Baptist circles, referring to sects that claim to be Christian but are not Christian. Yet the point is: the Perry/Jeffress camp were not addressing the Southern Baptist Convention. They knew full well that the American people associate “cult” with poisoned Koolaid and the Branch Davidians and Charles Manson. The implication is that Mitt Romney is a cult member, and we all know cultists are unstable, weird, irrational and subject to control.
This, in my view, was a shameful slander of a good man on the basis of his religious beliefs, and a shameful manipulation of religious language and religious sentiments for the advancement of a political campaign. It was divisive, destructive, and misleading. I’m sorry that it was self-proclaimed evangelicals who did this. There was nothing gracious about it. It harmed the witness of the church, not because the world hates it when we “speak the truth boldly” but because it showed evangelicals with partisan political commitments stooping to personal religious attacks in order to help their guy.
I warned in an earlier post about a ”subtle blurring of the lines between the church and the state amongst Perry and his devotees” — and took a lot of grief for it — but this is what I was talking about. When one candidate becomes The Evangelical Candidate, then the witness of the evangelical church becomes tied, for better or worse, to the actions of that candidate. That is not in the interest of the kingdom of God. Just as Romney does not present himself as a representative of Mormonism, Perry should not present himself as a representative of Evangelicalism. But he’s doing so in order to attract the support, votes and money of evangelical conservatives.
The future of our country is at stake. We live in exceptionally perilous economic circumstances. The economy has foundered, and the basic economic structure and the cultural resources that made the American economy so remarkably successful have deteriorated. We need a President who can make government lean and efficient and recreate the circumstances for a flourishing private sector. Presently, Romney and Perry are essentially in agreement on life, family and culture issues. Both have impressive economic records. While I think we need Romney’s skills and experience, Perry and Romney would both be vastly better than Obama. We don’t need to be dividing Republicans on religious lines, and pitting evangelicals over against the Mormons who have fought alongside them on issue after issue.
Anita Perry, Rick’s wife, complained yesterday that Perry has been “brutalized” in the mainstream media because of his faith. And yes, for a variety of reasons, so he has. In this case, however, it was the Perry campaign that brutalized an honorable Republican candidate for his faith. I hope that gives Rick Perry some food for thought. The kingdom of God is more important than the presidency, and this was one case of groping for the latter by harming the former.
In this United States of America there is spirited debate between proponents of theological traditions. None is more prevalent than that between Calvinists and Arminians, those who adhere to the sovereign will of God and those who believe in the free will of men and women. There are also differences between main-line denominations and independent congregations, between rationalists and Pentecostals, and between those who see the Gospel as a call to social action and those who see it as a call to evangelism. John Stott, addresses all these differences and more in his little book, Balanced Christianity.
He begins by quoting the founder of modern Anglican Evangelicalism, Charles Simeon, who was Fellow of King’s College and Vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, England. Simeon, in writing to a friend in 1825 maintained that, “The truth is not in the middle, and not in one extreme, but in both extremes. Sometimes I am a high Calvinist, at other times a low Arminian, so that if extremes will please you, I am your man; only remember, it is not one extreme that we are to go to, but both extremes.”
I was raised in this tradition where both Calvin and Wesley were revered. To illustrate holding both these extreme truths I can remember being taught that when we get to heaven we will face a gate which has over it these words: “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” When you enter the gate and look behind you will see on the inside of the entrance these words are emblazoned: “Chosen from before the foundation of the world!”
Stott takes four extremes and demonstrates how we should value both and avoid unnecessary polarizations.
1. Intellect & Emotion. He criticizes both cold intellectualism and empty emotionalism. Stott was raised in a highly intellectual environment and valued the mind. He graduated the top of his class at Cambridge University. I will never forget him trying to describe a well-known evangelist whom he had seen on television when he was visiting the United States. He couldn’t finish his story because he was rendered speechless by a fit of the giggles. He was suspicious of emotional experience as a substitute for thinking. He believed that a rational God made us rational beings and gave us a rational revelation in Scripture. “To deny our rationality is therefore to deny our humanity.” He wrote, Your Mind Matters, to expand that point. Scripture never sets faith and reason over against each other. Faith arises and grows within us by the use of our minds.
This does not mean that genuine experience of Jesus Christ is to be discounted. God has made us emotional as well as rational creatures. We are capable of deep feelings. Jesus was not ashamed of expressing his emotions. When we are overcome by the glory and grace of God we want to fall on our faces and worship. Truth can set the heart on fire. He quotes Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason…Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.”
John Stott was passionate about the Gospel which was evident in his proclamation and the witness of his life. The combination of intellect and emotion was compelling.
2. Conservative & Radical. He believed that every Christian should be both a conservative and a radical. Conservative because we are called to conserve God’s revelation in Scripture, to “guard the deposit of faith,” to “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” We don’t invent new gospels and new moralities. We are called to be faithful guardians of the one and eternal gospel. When I first went to work with John Stott as his assistant in the fall of 1967 he was preaching his way through Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy. It was published under the title, “Guard the Gospel.” Nobody who heard him would ever doubt his commitment to the historic Christian faith and his refutation of, what he considered, false teaching.
During my time at All Souls Church I shared with John in preaching a series entitled True Radicalism. In it we examined the radix, the root, of the truths that were being debated in the turbulent 60’s, during the student revolution. John was never a political conservative. The only newspaper he read was the weekly edition of the Manchester Guardian, which was center-left. He was not opposed to change. He was willing to challenge the tradition of the elders, as indeed Jesus did. He believed that we should subject our contemporary culture to continuous biblical scrutiny. He wanted to liberate Third World churches from having to follow the culture of their European missionaries. He wrote that “the greater danger (at least among evangelicals) is to mistake culture for Scripture, to be too conservative and traditionalist, to be blind to those things in church and society which displease God and should therefore displease us, to dig our heels and our toes deep into the status quo and to resist firmly that most uncomfortable of all experiences, change.”
I will continue this series in my next post.