Book review by Marilyn Kimberley
John R. W. Stott, the author of this book, Basic Christianity, is an English Christian and Anglican clergyman who is noted as a leader of the worldwide evangelical movement. In 2005, Time magazine ranked Stott, at the age of 84, among the 100 most influential people in the world and Billy Graham stated that Stott is the world’s most respected clergyman.
This small, compact book, only slightly longer than a pamphlet, will be of interest to people searching for a well-organized, easy to understand explanation of Christianity. Stott seeks to explain the message of Christianity, and to convince its readers of its truth and importance.
The reader should have no concerns that the book is too theoretical or theological to understand. Stott’s organization is so concise, precise and well-organized that readers of other religious faiths, and new Christians, will be able to understand it. But, even mature Christians will find the book helpful. It is very readable and “user” friendly. One could read it in one night, but more realistically, the reader will more likely stop often to ponder. So, set aside several evenings and expect to reread it often. It is an inexpensive little book—I think I paid about $2.99USD for my copy.
What is the book about?
Stott starts by stating that God created, He spoke, then He acted. God always takes the initiative. Part one deals with the claims of Christ: was he a megalomaniac (a liar) to claim he was God or was he mad? Or was he telling the truth?
The next chapter deals with the character of Christ, concluding that Jesus’ character reveals the complete selflessness and love of which only God is capable. The next chapter is only 12 pages and deals with Christ’s resurrection. Stott gives enough explanations and arguments that even the doubtful will agree that historical records validate the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Another chapter deals with sin and its nature. This is a topic our culture tries to avoid, but it’s vital to know that sin separates us from God. That chapter is followed by one on the consequences of sin.
Part two, consisting of several chapters, deals with Christ’s work, his death, and how he saves.
The third and last part deals with Man’s response to Jesus. What is the human response? What are the costs? How do we reach a decision? The last chapter deals with living the Christian life.
J.J Packer says, ”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 outworkings 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.”