Saturday, October 14, 2006

John Stott tells us what an evangelical is

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I've often expressed dismay at the degradation of the term "evangelical," and wondered aloud whether it is even useful anymore.

Along comes evangelical spokesman John Stott, in that great evangelical magazine Christianity Today, to tell us:
An evangelical is a plain, ordinary Christian. We stand in the mainstream of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity. So we can recite the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed without crossing our fingers. We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.
Okay, that's not bad. But it comes from John Stott, who has written some absolutely wonderful and unquestionably evangelical books, but whose penchant for compromise is pretty extensively discussed in Iain Murray's Evangelicalism Divided -- and who denies the eternal conscious punishment of the wicked in Hell. So is Stott crossing his fingers?

And it comes in what has been often-and-well-called "Christianity Astray," a magazine with a wonderfully evangelical, increasingly-distant past, but a largely troubling present.

So... still an open question.


Libbie said...

It's ok in certain circles. In other places it requires far too much qualification.

I suppose most labels are the same. If I was talking to a Muslim, for example, I probably wouldn't identify myself as 'Christian'. I would probably say something like 'Christian Believer', given that the word Christian often just means 'westerner' to a Muslim.

So if I was talking to another self-identified Evangelical christian who thought Steve Chalke was a really sound theological mind, I'd probably call myself a fundie, just to underscore some distance.

Anonymous said...

"Christianity Astray,"

snicker, snicker.

Recently, on the bargain bookshelf at my local bookstore, I found the book Basic Christianity by Stott. Should I have left at the store?

DJP said...

Oh no, Kim; not at all. That book's very well-regarded. He's written some excellent stuff, as has Packer. Someday read Murray's book; it's very informative. Just don't read it if you're already feeling blue and pessimistic. Or if you do, immediately follow it with Piper's Future Grace, or some other spirit-lifter.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

John Stott's theology has been pretty rotten for years.

Screaming Pirate said...

Hold on... did DJP just sugest a Piper book? But seriously, from what I have read of that book(bout 1/4 of it) its a wonderful spirit lifter.

Anonymous said...

As one who sat under John Stott's ministry at All Souls for 2-3 years, he is a good preacher, and comes across as a humble man. His books are very useful for simple bible study. Sadly, as he chose to be a die-hard Anglican, he will have to compromise on a lot of issues (I don't think he denies eternal punishment, but is agnostic about it. But his ecumenism is more tragic).

As a side note, to Dyspraxic Fundamentalist who said, "John Stott's theology has been pretty rotten for years.", I find John Stott's theology to be much better than yours. I would listen to his preaching anytime.

Anonymous said...

You've got to be careful; if you throw away classic Stott because of one current, errant doctrine, you're throwing the baby out with the bath water. Besides, most of our treasured church fathers held beliefs many evangelicals would dismiss...but that doesn't mean we should toss out The Confessions. Or I could leave the the fathers alone; does anyone have a wholly perfect docrtine?

DJP said...

Who are you cautioning, Stephen?