Don’t Miss These Two Books on the Cross!
The Cross of Christ, by John Stott (1986)
On Tuesday April 7, 1987, I purchased John Stott’s book The Cross of Christ. I know this was the day I bought the book because I wrote the date inside the cover. But, I didn’t read the book until twenty-eight years later. I had to repent. Why had I waited so long to read this spiritual classic!? Stott’s book is literally one of the best I’ve ever read on the cross of Christ. He covers all the important points when it comes to the cross, such as: atonement, propitiation, substitution, satisfaction, forgiveness, reconciliation and triumph. There are so many aspects to the cross that it takes a book of this size (378 pages) to address them all.
Here is what Stott says on propitiation, “It is God himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God himself who in the person of his Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took his own loving initiative to appease his own righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us.” (page 175)
The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ, by Fleming Rutledge (2015)
Recently I picked up Fleming Rutledge’s newer book, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. Rutledge is a female, Episcopal priest who seems to be evangelical in her theology with a few exceptions. For example, she accepts some common higher critical views of the New Testament, and also seems to lean toward universalism. This is the belief that all will be saved in the end. Having said this, she is a refreshing voice in a largely liberal denomination. Bottom line, Rutledge is on a mission to defend all things Pauline and to exalt a theology of the cross.
I am enjoying her book. It won the 2017 Christianity Today book of the year award. It also received a positive blog post on the Gospel Coalition website (although I suspect she would feel a bit uncomfortable hanging out with a bunch of evangelical complementarian Calvinists). As the Gospel Coalition’s post pointed out, in some ways her book is a successor to John Stott’s, The Cross of Christ. At times she feels like a blend of John Stott, Eugene Peterson and F.F. Bruce. Her writing is theologically broad, insightful, pastoral and scholarly.
Do yourself a favor, buy one or both of these books and dig into the cross of Christ (I’d recommend Stott first). The cross is a subject few Christians spend time reading about, much less meditating on. You will be challenged, enriched, and moved toward a deeper joy in God as you come to understand more of what the cross is all about.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor