Thursday, September 4, 2014

There is None Like Him: John Stott on the Incomparable Christ

From the introduction of John Stott's Book The Incomprable Christ:
"Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has bee the dominant figure in the history of western culture for almost twenty centuries." So wrote Jaroslav Pelikan at the beginning of his wide-ranging book Jesus through the Centuries.

It seemed appropriate, therefore, that the millennial London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity should be concerned with Jesus Christ, since it is his birthday (whatever its precise date may have been) that we have been celebrating. Considering his dominance in three spheres.

First, Jesus is the centre of history. At least a large proportion of the human race continues to divide history into BC and AD by reference to his birth. in the year 2000 the world population reached 6,000 million, while the estimated number of Christians was 1,700 million or about 28%. So nearly one third of the human race professes to follow him.

Secondly, Jesus is the focus of Scripture. The Bible is not a random collection of religious documents. As Jesus himself said, "The Scriptures . . . bear witness to me" (John 5:39 RSV). And Christian scholars have always recognized this. Jerome, for example, the great church father of the fourth and fifth centuries, wrote that "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ".

In the sixteenth century, it is noteworthy that both Erasmus of the Renaissance and Luther of the Reformation emphasized the same centrality of Christ. The Bible "will give Christ to you", wrote Erasmus, "in an intimacy so close that he would be less visible to you if he stood before your eyes". Luther similarly, in his Lectures on Romans, was clear that Christ is the key to Scripture. In his gloss on Romans 1:5 he wrote: "here the door is thrown open wide for the understanding of Holy Scripture, that is, that everything must be understood in relation to Christ." And later he wrote "that the entire Scripture deals only with Christ everywhere".

Thirdly, Jesus is the heart of mission. Why is it that some Christians cross land and sea, continents and cultures, as missionaries? What on earth impels them? It is not in order to commend a civilization, an institution or an ideology, but rather a person, Jesus Christ, whom they believe to be unique. This is particularly clear in the Christian mission to the world of Islam. "Our task," wrote scholarly missionary Bishop Stephen Neill, "is to go on saying to the Muslim with infinite patience, 'Sir, consider Jesus'. We have no other message . . . It is not the case that the Muslim has seen Jesus of Nazareth and has rejected him; he has never seen him . . ."

But those who do see Jesus and surrender to him, acknowledge him to be at the centre of their conversion experience. (15-16)

For more:
The True and Better: Jesus
And yet this Jesus of Nazareth . . . 
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 1
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 2
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 3
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 4-5
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 6
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 7
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 8
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 9
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 10-11
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 12
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 13
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 14
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 15
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 16
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 17
"The Historical Jesus": A Lecture by Ben Witherington 
We've All Heard This Before: "Zealot" and the Same Search For the Missing Jesus
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