While it is not explicitly stated, the intended audience of this book is the unsaved or those struggling in their faith. First published in 1958, this is a relatively brief apology for the Christian faith aimed at the average person.
Stott sets out the Christian faith starting with the person of Jesus Christ. He then moves to man’s sin which is followed by a section on Christ’s work at the cross, and finishes by addressing man’s response.
First, Stott presents an introduction to the Christian faith that is grounded in solid theology. While the book serves a similar function as C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Stott’s work focuses on history and theology in contradistinction to Lewis’ emphasis on philosophy and reason—and would probably for that reason be helpful to different kinds of people.
Second, the apologetic is built on the dilemma of Jesus Christ himself. In other words, the historical person, Jesus Christ, is presented as a reality which cannot be ignored by fair minded people. While Stott gives lip-service to a classical apologetic, in practice, this book follows a more presuppositional approach.
Third, the book is presented with a winsome kindliness which makes it ideal for those wrestling with their faith.
First, there are several points of concern in the area of theology. At several points, Stott seems to allude to a non-literal view of hell. Additionally, it is clear at several points that Stott does not hold to believer’s baptism. Finally, Stott’s approach to the atonement raises questions—questions which the book does not answer.
Second, chapter ten single-handedly took a full star off this review. The language of conversion is deeply reminiscent of Finneyistic decisionalism. This is topped off with a drawn out use of an interpretation of Revelation 3 (“I stand at the door and knock”) which is highly suspect.
Third, in chapter three, the presentation of Christ’s love blurs the line between love and codependence at the very least. “This utter disregard of self… is what the Bible calls love.” While his general point is on track, there would be benefit in a more precise enunciation of the point.
This book is a worthwhile read for the the apologist and will be helpful for a certain kind of unbeliever. It is also the sort of material which could be used to help young people who have grown up in the context of Christianity to ground themselves in the Christian faith personally.
Grace to you.