Just Give me the Basics

Originally posted at Livejournal 28th October 2010

I’ve been a Christian for nine years.  I’ve been going to church pretty much most of my life.  There’s a difference between the two, believe me.  Sadly I haven’t time to explain it right now other than to say it’s the difference between knowing about something and being a fan and completely obsessed with it. The Jesus fan club benefits are a whole heap better than Spandau Ballet’s though.

When I became a Christian it was a very exciting time and for a minute there you feel pretty much invincible.  And then reality sets in. You realise that while following Jesus has its mountain-top moments, there’s an awful lot of padding around in faceless suburbia to do and even a fair amount of trekking through the valley of the shadow of death.  There are a few things that you could do with a little explanation about and somehow you never quite get around to vocalising them and then they just niggle… for years.  They are never deep doubts, just a case of not quite getting the last few jigsaw puzzle bits in the right place.

Back then, there were a lot of great book suggestions about getting to grips with being a brand new shiny Christian.  ‘Read the User Manual’ – the Bible, well, yes obviously – and I’ve taken that one to heart.  My knowledge of it is substantially better than it was, although I desire it to be much greater.  ‘Read Mere Christianity by C S Lewis’, read this, read that, oh and ‘read This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti’.  I just did that this month…  Wow, what a book.

I’m sure somebody at the time told me to read Basic Christianity by John Stott.  I wish I’d taken up that suggestion a lot sooner.  I’ve read it over the last two days and without doubt I can say that it’s the best book about being a Christian and what Christianity stands for – well not quite ever as you have to admit Jesus knows a bit more on the subject – but certainly written during the 20th Century.

Basic Christianity. 192 pages of…

Who is Jesus,
What he did
Why it was important that he did it
Why we needed it doing
and
Why we need to respond

No fluff, no padding, no big long words, no thees, no thous, no rubbish examples from modern day life, no jokey asides, no dodgy theologically left-field interpretive dance routines; just the facts of the matter plainly stated to save you the trouble of picking out the bits from the Bible yourself.

If you wanted to ever read one book on what Christianity was all about, I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this one to you.  Basic without being intellectually insulting; clear, honest and written by someone who as Ken our Associate Pastor commented, has always been theologically straight down the middle.  Regardless of whatever fashionable interpretation is going on in Christian-book-writer-land, John Stott has politely ignored it and stuck to the middle ground.  This is invaluable – working out who is selling you Jesus and who is selling you their stuff is a skill best quickly learned when you’re a new Christian.

I would at this point recommend you buy it from your local Christian book seller, but I realise that for a great number of you this might have all the appeal of walking into a sex shop. So here is a link to it at Amazon.co.uk.  Despatched in a nice, anonymous brown cardboard wrapper…

Basic Christianity (New Edition), John Stott.

Rachel J Lewis | 28th October 2010

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2 Responses to Just Give me the Basics

  1. Hi Rachel
    Your blog reminds me of a book I read years ago called ‘From Hinds Feet to High Places’, an alagory like Pilgrim’s Progress. You don’t realise it at the time but the journey is part of the goal.
    Thank you for your honesty!
    An ISBN number would be helpful for ordering in places like Horatio’s Ampthill :-)

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