Posts belonging to Category Theology

John Stott on Human Suffering and the Cross

Here is an excerpt on human suffering and the cross from John Stott’s landmark book, The Cross of Christ:

I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross’. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after awhile I have had to turn away. And in imagination, I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through his hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolizes divine suffering. ‘The cross of Christ … is God’s only self justification in such a world’ as ours.1 (John Stott, The Cross of Christ, pp. 335-336)

1 P.T. Forsyth, Justification of God, p. 32.

A. W. Tozer on the Radical Cross

The following is excerpted from A. W. Tozer’s essay, “The Cross is a Radical Thing,” found in his book, The Root of the Righteous. I trust you will find it a meaningful meditation on the cross for this Good Friday.

“The cross of Christ is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men.

“The cross of the Roman times knew no compromise; it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. It spared not Christ, but slew Him the same as the rest. He was alive when they hung Him on that cross and completely dead when they took him down six hours later …

“After Christ was risen from the dead the apostles went out to preach His message, and what they preached was the cross … The radical message of the cross transformed Saul of Tarsus and changed him from a persecutor of Christians to a tender believer and an apostle of the faith. Its power changed bad men into good ones. It shook off the long bondage of paganism and altered completely the whole moral and mental outlook of the Western world.

“All this it did and continued to do as long as it was permitted to remain what it had been originally, a cross. Its power departed when it was changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty. When men made of it a symbol, hung it around their necks as an ornament … then it became at best a weak emblem … As such it is revered today by millions who know absolutely nothing about its power …


John Calvin Lite

So, have you ever thought about reading John Calvin’s four volume, 1734 page work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion? I am guessing probably not. I am a seminary graduate and a pastor, and I have not read the whole thing.

Calvin’s Institutes is a classic in Christian literature, and yet most Christians are completely unfamiliar with it. The size of the task is daunting. Not many of us feel we can read 1734 pages of theology. (Remember, Calvin had to write all those pages!)

What if you could get a taste for the book and its contents by reading 100 brief paragraphs which summarized the whole? What if you could do it for free online right at your computer? Well, you can. The Rev. William Pringle assembled his “One Hundred Aphorisms, Containing, Within a Narrow Compass, the Substance and Order of the Four Books of the Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Designed as a reference to the work, the aphorisms also provide a good summary and introduction to the Institutes.

If you are up for a little theology today, try reading them at one of the following links:

Advice: Don’t try to read them all at one. Just read a few paragraphs at a time, then stop and think about them. Then come back later and read some more.