Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

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God’s City: Augustine and His Great Work…

August 28, 2012

Tension marks the life of the believer.  This fact is as true today as it was in the time of Augustine.  The tension begins when one is ushered out of the realm darkness and into the light of salvation in Christ.  Once delivered a tension forms between the new creation in Christ (Christian), and the world he/she has both escaped and still occupies.  It is this ‘in the world but not of the world’ conundrum that draws Augustine’s intention in City of God.

Augustine, confronted by the harsh socio-political realities of life and death, freedom and conquest in the Roman empire, with realistic historical, theological and ecclesiastical focus.  In City of God (CG) he attempts to address three questions, each question is not treated in isolation rather, there is a constant interplay between them.  Historically he attempts to answer the question, ‘What is happening?’; Theologically he attempts to address the ‘why it is happening?’; in terms of ecclesiastical or pastoral focus he constantly asserts ‘how a Christian should respond?’ to their reality.

Within this collection of works slowly and systematically composed in the second decade of the fifth century after the sack of Rome; Augustine begins seeking answers by examining the ‘problem’.  Namely, mans’ fallen nature on display through; poor governance, idolatrous worship and misplaced affections.  One can detect the influence of neo-Platonism in his structure and thought; as this section (roughly chs. 1-7) represent the world we see displayed out against the wall before us.  But like any good Platonist, what we see is not enough, we must seek the source of our manifest troubles.

Augustine then, leaves the cave, so to speak, and examines the true reality behind our calamity.  In this section (chs. 8-14) he examines some of that other realm which has historically and theologically impacted man and his actions.  The source of the debauchery, idolatry, mis-governance, and ‘falleness’ is found in: the fall of Satan, His angels, and finally the fall of Adam, and all of mankind within him.  This alone would have represented a monumental work of history, philosophy and theology but Augustine exercises his discipline of rhetoric and constructs the argument further.  This section represents the root of the ‘city of man’ that realm in opposition to God, which we occupy in body if not in spirit.

Augustine then plays out the theory of fallen man in the course of human history.  In this section (chs. 15-20) Augustine examines history from pre-Adam to post-man, from Genesis to Revelation, he proceeds to trace his themes and their effects.  This is the civil history of God’s city and its inhabitants from Adam to Abraham; from Jeremiah to Jesus, and from Rome to Revelation.  In addition to his many specific admonitions concerning the Christian life, this section provides biographical examples of virtue and Godly character, which are just as informative as any specific pastoral encouragement.

He then looks beyond in the final section (chs. 21-22) to what amounts almost to an epilogue on the entire work, discussing Hell, Heaven, and hope.  So let us briefly examine Augustine’s structure and assertions as we have laid them out above.

The Problems with the City of Man chs. 1-7

For Augustine, misunderstanding and darkness cloud the minds of the pagans in and around the Roman empire.  These are the inhabitants of the city of man, denied the light of Christ they fumble around in darkness attempting to answer similar questions to Augustine’s   What is Happening? i.e. to the empire and Why do things occur? i.e. Rome being sacked by the Visigoths. Their answers are less than satisfying for Augustine, as they blame everyone but themselves; Christians, the Christian God and the pagan gods.  Their lack of understanding breeds confusion and that confusion inevitably led to conflict and persecution of Christians.  Augustine’s apologetic was to basically deconstruct their argument systematically and deductively reason that Christ, His followers and His God are not to blame for Rome’s recent calamities.  First he argues that pagans are wrong to even make the accusation. Second he asserts that Rome had experienced great suffering and events of defeat long before Christ.  In other words, while Christ is the pivot point of history, He is not the contributing factor to the degradation of their society, in fact quite the opposite.  God and His Son are the only true source of power and its exercise on earth.

Finally in this section, he examines the pagan’s clouded judgment on fate, freewill (versus pagan fatalism tied to idolatry), theology (worshipping the wrong gods), and civil life (the worship of things that do not lead to eternal life).  These are the underpinnings of the pagan experience in the city of man exemplified in Rome and its condition.  Chasing after a misunderstanding of power, its use and its source, ultimately leads society at war with itself and at enmity with is Creator God.  Now Augustine turns to the back-story, the ‘rest of the story’ if you will.

The Source of the Problem chs. 8-14

Augustine attempts to shed a light on the dark recesses of history far beyond human experience and revealed knowledge.  How did God’s good creation ‘devolve’ into what can only be described as unholy and odds with the creator.  This section addresses the privation; initially of Satan, then of his angels, and finally the privation of man through exercise of God’s gracious, if not misused, gift of free-will.  Book IX is especially helpful in discussing the origin of the cities.  Wrapped around this description is Satan’s fall found in his exercise of idolatrous pride; his angels too, lacking in the full measure of grace given to others, follow him precipitously down.  The chief gross domestic product of man’s city is death, and death saw its beginning in Adam’s sin.  Through his sin, death was exported to us as a punishment for our fallen natures.  This sad effect is most keenly seen in the role of reproduction.  Reproduction or man’s propagation, is muted in two ways by sin: one, in that its fruits ultimately spoil in death; and two, the effort becomes sinful and damning win corrupted by lust.  This is part of the penal judgment of man, in that the very means and ends of his God-prescribed role to pro-create are marred and subject to futility.  Having grappled with the source of man’s city, Augustine then traces the city’s development throughout history.

The Drama of History chs. 15-20.

As proof of the existence of these cities, Augustine offers parallel histories of each throughout the course of the human experience. From Adam on, the choices presented to the patriarchs, prophets, and finally to Christ, represent the grim effect of God’s bifurcated creation.  The murder of brothers, the devastation of flood, the proliferation of sacrifice, and the death of Christ and the coming of His church fill this section in an attempt to inform the miserable condition of man.  It also draws a subtle picture of God’s sovereignty and provision throughout history.  It is not a story of a passive creator and His unruly creation.  Rather a dynamic drama of fall, death, redemption and renewal.

Conclusion: Hell, Heaven and hope. Chs. 21-22

Much like the scripture that so richly informs Augustine’s thought his monumental work finishes with a description of two ends. The calamitous eternal judgment of the wicked and refreshing resurrection of the saints to eternal joy.  This above any single admonition throughout his work, serves to inform the Christian of how they should act and what awaits them in the future.  That which awaits is of preeminent importance to the Christian.  For it is in the hope of God’s heavenly city prevailing that the Christian should seek and rest in.  We pray that His kingdom come, over this earthly, fallen realm.  It is in this hope that we place our faith, that we shall one day ‘rest and see, see and love, love and praise’.

Augustine’s work for me, is both encouraging and informative.  As a perennial student I am often confronted with the drive to delve deeply into the things of God, but I also face the realities of life and pastoral care which pull at my greatest challenge of stewardship, my time.  Augustine displays a life and work lived out accomplishing both purposes, and he reconciles the apparent disparity of scholarship and pastoral ministry.  One informs the other, and serve to compliment each other.  The greatest end to ones endeavors in life is to lose that life in love and service to a brother; and the greatest means to that end is a life lost in study of the Word, and lived out in accordance with its example.  To that end, Augustine succeeds in a measure rarely seen among theologians and pastors.  May God grant me a mere taste of such delight and success.

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A Word from Hitchens, on the Word…

April 11, 2011

When one takes a look at the state of modern cultural criticism, few voices and pens are as prominent or prolific as that of Christopher Hitchens. Knowing his predisposition against all things religious, especially Christian, one might wonder why he and his ilk might find space on this blog devoted to the Word which he so anxiously wishes wasn’t there. The answer comes from his current article in Vanity Fair entitled, “When the King Saved God.”

Hitchens is brilliant. There is no getting around that, he is eloquent, winsome, and biting. He is also battling esophageal cancer. Even while fighting the disease he has found time to bring his considerable lexical acumen to bear against the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. The event he admits was truly paradigmatic. (that word was for him)

Now, Hitchens is not discussing scriptural inerrancy, nor is he focussed on the power scripture has as the repository of God’s precepts and Gospel of life. Rather this is a literary musing, a discourse on the considerable literary contribution the KJV has had on the language Hitchens loves and wields so well. He States:

“The Tyndale/King James translation, even if all its copies were to be burned, would still live on in our language through its transmission by way of Shakespeare and Milton and Bunyan and Coleridge, and also by way of beloved popular idioms such as “fatted calf” and “pearls before swine.” It turned out to be rather more than the sum of its ancient predecessors, as well as a repository and edifice of language which towers above its successors.”

Much has been written about the impact of the KJV on society and literature.

Adam Potkay, professor of Humanities at William and Mary College has written and taught for over twenty years on the pervasive presence of the KJV in our literary and cultural history. Download his chapter from “The King James Bible after 400 Years” entitled “Romantic Transformations of the King James Bible” here.

Leland Ryken, the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College, has written extensively on the literary influence and literary nature of the Bible. (You can read my review of Ryken’s “How to read the Bible as Literature” here.) Out this year is his latest contribution, “The Legacy of the King James Bible” (Crossway). He describes the publication of the KJV as a “landmark event in the english speaking world.”

It is both encouraging and discouraging to watch Hitchens handle so important a text. He uses his considerable God-given skill to weigh God’s given text, and while he misses the texts true impact, he stumbles on some undeniable truths concerning its form. Regardless of his discussion, the KJV’s impact is felt mostly in its ubiquity over the last 400 years; 350 of which it was by far the most commonly used english translation. Hitchens defends the beauty on its pages in a modern world more accustomed to tweets than tried texts. The greatest evangelist in the twentieth century (at least in regards to numbers reached) lifted truth from the KJV’s pages and hurled it forth to over 200 million people; who despite disparate backgrounds could still decipher the Gospel in its stilted and aged prose.

Of course it is my prayer and the prayer of many, that while Hitchens lauds the literary rarity of the KJV, he will not look past the central contribution of the Bible to mankind. The story beneath the prose of a God, His creation, His Justice, and His redemption, available to any who call upon His name.

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Find the Time and Redeem it…

August 5, 2010


I thought I would post a couple links to some resources for those who ask the question, “I have a Bible, so now what?”

The first is an excellent and brief book of instruction on studying the word entitled, How to Study the Bible” by John MacArthur from Moody Publishers, 2009.

This book attempts and succeeds to communicate the vital importance of the word to the life of any believer. It is an excellent aid for those new believers as well as those Christians who need to taste and see, again, why our Lord is good.

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A Master Sketch…

April 7, 2010

Spencer begins his work of recollections with the sentence, “This is a work of truth.”  He is referring to the fact that these stories which he is about to lay out actually happened, they were factual occurrences.  One could argue though that this book is as much about The Truth as it is about fact.  The Truth of Jesus Christ and how His gospel interacts with and arrests individuals through the faithful ministry of Spencer is at the heart of this work.

Spencer’s Approach to Evangelism

Spencer’s approach to evangelism, in the opinion of this writer, can be divided into three main characteristics.  First is his availability to entertain conversation.  This element appears to be essential in ministering the gospel.  He frequently is summoned to speak to someone on the behalf of a friend or relative; and he is always available to discuss the need a sinner has to repent and receive Christ.  Rarely if ever does he state in the book that he is too pre-occupied with something else to attend to the ministering of the gospel message.  Even when he is on his way to another engagement and briefly puts up resistance he ultimately and quickly seeks to address the need. (104)  One can see Spencer’s commitment to the gospel not in his mental grasp of concepts or even scripture but that he votes with his time and seems little distracted by things other than ministry.  Even in his ministry conversations, where it would be so easy to talk about surface matters he always moves to the core concern, “Have you given Christ your heart…?”(78)  Spencer is not distracted nor does he make excuses, as he says, “The human heart will weave an excuse for impenitence out of anything…. It makes them think they lack time, while, in fact, they only lack heart.”(68)

The second characteristic Spencer displays in his evangelism could best be termed discernment.  Throughout his work he comes across a variety of different people each with unique circumstances, and he approaches each with tact and deftness.  To those who require reasoning and intellectual debate Spencer engages in debate as in the Young Irishman (11) and Total Depravity (116).  Where people are dying or near death his approach is firm but not exploitive.  When the subjects seem unclear as to the elements of the Gospel he can offer step by step approach, as in Waiting for Conviction (69) and The Welsh Woman and her Tennant (89).  One of the most touching instances is in The Persecuted Wife (143), here Spencer ministers to a woman who desperately wants to attend church and seek after God but is threatened by her unbelieving husband.  Spencer encourages her to trust God and seek after Him not regarding the cost.  He explains to her, “He will not turn you out of the house. If he should, remember ‘Blessed are ye when men revile you…”(147)  Spencer displays faith in God and in a way that is counter to what contemporary ministry might stress, he places the highest priority not on the family but on obeying God despite the potential cost.  He is ultimately proved right in the story, and God worked things according to his purpose.

This discernment would even lead him to leave a person and allow the Spirit to convict and direct. Where we might feel compelled to continue on until a decision was made, he recognized that the Holy Spirit is a much more effective influence than any words a man can utter.  In fact, “…the very urgency and influence of the Holy Spirit consist in bringing sinners to embrace Jesus Christ.”(56)  We are not in this fight for souls alone; Spencer recognized this and relied upon it.

Each of these varied accounts displays a range of ability to deal with the diverse people one must address when one preaches the gospel, there can be no ‘one fits all’ approach.  Indeed we must, “become all things to all to all men that by all possible means (we) might save some.”(I Cor. 9:22)

The Third mark that characterized Spencer’s approach is that of Faithfulness.  Faithfulness to the message but also to those whom he preached pastured.  This trait is displayed in the overall image given of a man who spent years in the ministry and saw the fruits of those years.  One sees it, as well, in the commitment he had to return again and again to individuals as they struggled through the elements of faith. In the first account that of the Young Irishman Spencer make five visits over the course of several weeks, and saw the fruit of that labor in the eventual salvation of the man prior to his death.  Even when the first attempts are unsuccessful Spencer continues to sow, and rarely did he fail to see growth.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The Strengths to Spencer’s approach to evangelism are really outgrowths from his approach.  The fact that he would take as much time as was necessary to interact, that he stayed faithful to the message and was consistent from person to person; these are real strengths.  His reliance on the Holy Spirit, in as much as he partnered with the Spirit and sought to discern the persons condition and need and address that need with the gospel.  Also that he on God’s sovereignty, once the gospel was preached it was up to God and the Spirit to convict and bring to faith.  “If anyone thinks that he has turned to God without the special aids of the Holy Spirit, it is probable that he has never turned to God at all.”(109)  One never gets the impression throughout the book that Spencer feels the weight for their conversion.  He bears the weight of delivering the message and the call to repent, but it is up to God to draw.

The weaknesses are really a matter of opinion.  Spencer lived in a time of greater biblical literacy and religious respect.  These elements were instrumental in his interactions during his life.  Today, due to failings and mistrust, Preachers must do a great deal of groundwork to gain respect of those to whom they preach.  In addition one can not assume that individuals have any knowledge of the Bible.    He would often call on women alone and un-accompanied, which certainly one would be ill-advised to do today.  He also failed to use his ministry opportunities to teach and disciple other pastors, or lay people in the art and practice of evangelism.  This particular criticism is mitigated somewhat in the publication of Sketches.

Personal Strategy

Upon reflection of Spencer’s insights, I am greatly encouraged to pursue four goals to develop my own strategy for personal evangelism.  The first is the vital importance of interaction.  It is hard to preach to those whom we don’t see and meet.  Paul admonishes us in Romans 10:14, “How will they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  How shall they believe in him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?”  So I must resolve to put my self in front of non-believers and pray that God will guide my meetings and place the message within me in contact with those who need the message.  Second I must resolve to know and learn more Scripture.  A page is not turned in Spencer’s work that does not have a scripture on it.  Throughout every conversation he would quote scripture in calling people to repent, and repent today.  Christ attests in Matthew 12:34 that “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  And it is clear that hidden in the heart of Spencer was the living and abiding word of God, “able to save men’s souls.”(James 1:21)  Third, I must be willing to take the time and not allow myself to get distracted with less important matters.  Conversations take time, prayer takes time, people take patience, and I must endeavor and pray that God will remind me that the lack of time I may have to do all that I want is the same lack of time an unbeliever has to hear the message.  Time is running out for both me and for the lost, and whatever I can construct to take up my time matters little against a souls need to hear the gospel.  That is a convicting sentence but none the less true.  Finally I must have faith.  A Faith that God will effectively call those whom he knows and those whom he has predestined.  Again Paul instructs in Romans 8:29-30, “For whom He foreknew, he also predestined…and whom he predestined these he also called, and whom He called He justified, and whom He justified He also Glorified.”  I must trust that I am to preach and God is to call, and justify and glorify as he has promised to do.  It is easy to take the responsibility on one’s self and rely on one’s abilities or skills.  To be effective, however, one must rely solely on God and relies that the very faith I profess and the very faith I possess is in itself a gift; a gift which came by a shear act of grace.

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“First Testament” Theology?

November 17, 2009

Israel’s Gospel is the first of three volumes of John Goldingay’s monumental effort to layout and explain Old Testament theology against the backdrop of modern narrative interpretation. Goldingay begins this work by declaring his own liberation from the traditional restraints of biblical interpretation. (22) It is his intent to examine the Old Testament in light of itself, not in light of the New Testament or subject to “Christian Lenses”. (20) Rather the Old Testament or “First Testament” is the light by which the New (Second) Testament must be examined. The actual theology of the Old Testament is portrayed through the extensive narrative involving Israel, with several interludes of “overt personal reflection”.(29) This narrative is laid out by Goldingay under the following progression: God began with creation; God started over via the flood; God promised a covenant with Abram; God delivered on His promise; God sealed His people; God gave the promised land; God accommodated Israel’s requests; God Wrestled with Israel; God preserved Israel following their dispossession; and finally God sent Jesus. (32) Goldingay methodically goes through each of these stages and treats them with intensive scriptural detail and analysis. These steps are not dispensations, revisions, or differing promises; but rather stages in God’s unfolding plan for “His People” and His creation. Goldingay concludes his 883 page work with an extensive postscript elaborating on his concepts of historicity and how history informs theology but must not control theological interpretation or faith based theology.

Strengths of the Work Goldingay’s effort is quite exhaustive. He literally starts from the beginning and systematically fleshes out each major component of his narrative with numerous scripture references. He reflects on scripture with scripture and uses “inter-textuality” seeking to give weight to his arguments by tying scripture together. The length of his work seems necessary for what he is trying to accomplish, and the luxury of this space in which to work is the detailed treatment of topics which, by their nature, cry out for detailed treatment. Chapters range from 50 to 100 pages for each of the eleven sections, each is meticulously subdivided which aides in reference and in tracking the progression of his argument. Weaknesses Goldingay’s effort is not only exhaustive but could also be termed as exhausting. This work is by no means an objective scholarly work; rather it represents a faulty theology based on countless dogmatic assertions. Goldingay, a “white Oxbridge-educated, middle-aged, Episcopalian priest,” admittedly a Christian, begins by divorcing the Old Testament from the New.(872) In fact he finds it necessary to rename the testaments to created distance, while they are still connected by chronology they should no longer be thought of as Old completed by New but rather as First followed by Second. His use of this terminology is by no means consistent throughout the book, a fact which lends itself to confusion. Goldingay can afford the separation of interpretation because the Old Testament (OT) “never mentions” Christ; ergo he will not focus on how the OT “points to Christ”. (26)

The OT is a central witness to the character of YHWH, and it is this character that Goldingay wishes to explore; and explore it he does. One of the books primary failings is that while he uses numerous scriptures and relates them to one another, Psalms with Genesis, Proverbs with Exodus, for example; often he brings a poetic passage to bear against a narrative. And while a poetic passage can give added meaning to the significance of an historical event, its figurative terminology should not be used to dogmatically interpret the narrative thereby constraining a plain flat reading of the text. Goldingay professes that God can be limited by human action. Indeed, “He limits his knowledge to be able to genuinely listen to us;” He must listen because, “while He could know everything about us… God’s supernatural knowledge… comes about through discovery.”(137) God’s is seen as rather reactionary, it is no surprise to Goldingay that when “things went wrong God had to start over.”(131) This need to start over arises from mans sinful actions and their effect on the His creation; however, Goldingay does not attribute the existence of this sin on anything genetic or biologically inherited from Adam, rather sin is a by-product of sociological and environmental pressures which affect human development.

There are some truths throughout Goldingay’s text, he admits that God created the universe and world, although how this was done is uncertain; God called Israel and created a separate nation, although this is not any kind of election in a theological sense.(214) etc. Goldingay spends 700 some odd pages meticulously going through the Hebrew narrative examining the character of God to arrive at his post-script where he flatly concedes that there is little verifiable historical fact in the aforementioned narrative. The absence of the text’s historicity does not eliminate the moral message contained in the passages, rather the morality remains intact and open for interpretation. According to Goldingay, it matters not who wrote, or contrived, or edited the scriptures, or for what purpose; there are still truths to be revealed about God and His character, a theology to be studied.

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Why we are Christians

July 3, 2009

Why I am a Christian

Life is full of questions.  Some questions are incidental, some are meaningless and some are nothing less than profoundly essential.  One such essential question is tackled by John Stott in his book Why I am a Christian.  In addition to serving as the rector of All Souls Church in London; Stott is a best selling author, a preacher, an evangelist and a renowned communicator of scripture.  To that impressive list he would likely add, as paramount, the title of Christian.  As one who has publicly served Christ for many years, Stott has often been posed the question, “Why Are You a Christian?”  Through this book, he responds to that question with a wealth of wisdom and insight.

                        Why I am a Christian, by John Stott, is intended to guide the reader through a brief explanation of one man’s belief on the nature of Christ as Savior; and the natures of those in need of salvation.  Two paramount questions emerge and are answered by Stott.  First, who is Christ?  Second, who are we?  Stott’s answers to both are thorough and easy for almost any reader to grasp.

                        The author begins his testimony not with a recollection but with an acknowledgement.  His testimony begins at the beginning with Christ, the “Hound of Heaven”(15).  The first half of the book deals with Christ; His nature, His Claims, and His mission.  Stott acknowledges that it is Christ who pursues that which is lost, indeed we as believers are the object of a pursuit that is “‘patient but purposeful, affectionate but relentless’” (16). 

                        Stott leads the reader through four examples of divine pursuit displayed against the backdrop of Christian history.  He weaves the personal accounts of Saul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo, Malcolm Muggeridge, and C.S. Lewis into a full testimony of man’s reluctance and Christ’s persistence.  Stott acknowledges that these stories are famous but not unique; “Multitudes of ordinary people have testified down through the years to the same sense of Christ knocking at their door or pricking them with his goads or pursuing them” (29).  Yet whether well known or obscure the author makes every effort to communicate to the reader that “whether or not we are consciously seeking God, he is assuredly seeking us” (30).

                        Once an individual acknowledges the knocking and, by grace opens the door, one will be posed the inevitable question; Why?  Stott professes that one should answer first because we were pursued and second because, “… Christianity is true, or better, the claims of Jesus are true” (33).  Stott provides the readers with a wide range of scriptures testifying to who Christ is and who He claimed to be.  The reader, whether Christian or not, is faced with a decision when presented with these claims.  “The Claims of Jesus are either true or false.  If they are false, they could be deliberately false (in which case he was a liar), or they could be involuntarily false (in which case he was deluded).  Yet neither possibility appeared to be likely” (44).  Christ was a “paradox” in His statements and His behavior.

                        Stott puts the paradox on display for his readers in the form of Christ’s death on the cross.  Here is a man who claimed to be God and yet suffered and died for the sins of all mankind.  The author states, “For on the cross, when Jesus died, God himself in Christ bore the judgment we deserved in order bring us the forgiveness we do not” (55).  For Stott this is the ultimate example of who God is and why the reader should follow Him, “The Crucified one is the God for me! He set aside his immunity to pain…. He suffered for us, dying in our place in order that we might be forgiven” (63).

                        Stott’s progression leads the reader naturally from the provision and forgiveness of God to mankind’s fallen nature and need for forgiveness and provision.

                        “What does it mean to be human?” Stott points out that the Bible itself twice poses this question once in Psalm 8:4 and then in Job 7:17. (65)  The answer to this question is fundamental to understanding what it means to be a Christian.  Stott emphasizes that each individual human is a fallen creature, subject to the judgment and wrath of God.  What mankind possesses is the ability to access freedom from God through His Grace and His Son.  “Salvation frees us from many things—especially guilt, God’s judgment, self-centeredness and fear” (84).  Stott maintains that it is the aspiration for this freedom which consumes lives and energies of every person.  Furthermore, he argues that Christ is the only satisfaction for that aspiration, “There is a thirst that none but Christ can quench” (95).  So to be human is to long for that which only Christ can give, having found that gift by God’s grace, Stott has given the reader yet another reason for being a Christian.

                        Passion and a love for God permeate this book.  One can see the evidences of decades of faithful consideration of this most important of topics.  He ably gives a power and brief explanation of Salvation in light of God’s grace, Christ’s sacrifice, and man’s longing.  Stott’s writing is clear and unambiguous which makes his book an effective tool for believers to wield in defending the faith. 

                        Why I am a Christian is also, fundamentally, a success in its stated aims to provde material to “…a genuine inquirer who wants to think through the implications of becoming a Christian” (10).  Non-Christians who pick up this text will be exposed to a theologically sound treatment of scripture and a vivid testimony of God’s grace and love that is impossible to refute and difficult to ignore.