Based on the biblical teaching that the earth is created by God and has been entrusted to us as its stewards, Stott urges us to avoid the twin errors of either deifying the earth or exploiting it. Rather, he says, we’re called to cooperate with God to conserve the good creation and to develop its resources for the common good.
I think rather highly of the late John Stott for a number of reasons. First, there’s his longtime involvement with The Lausanne Movement, including his role as “chief architect” of the Lausanne Covenant. I think we can all still learn a great deal from his understanding of the relationship between evangelism and social action.
And I’m grateful for the way he devoted so much of his life work to the church in the Global South through Langham Partnership. Then again, maybe my interest is really just a case of American Evangelical Anglophilia.
The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling (IVP) was Stott’s final book, as he said it would be, calling it a “valedictory message” to his readers. He explains the choice of words in the title by emphasizing that being a disciple of Christ has to do with being under discipline and “implies the relationship of pupil to teacher.” Disciple, then, is a stronger word than Christian. And radical, which comes from the Latin word for root, emphasizes that our commitment isn’t haphazard, flimsy, or temporary. Radical disciples are rooted ones, under the discipline of Christ. And this book challenges us on our tendency to want nothing to do with that kind of life:
Our common way of avoiding radical discipleship is to be selective: choosing those areas in which commitment suits us and staying away from those areas in which it will be costly.
While many of Stott’s readers have certainly been following Christ for decades, others — like the 18,000 or so who’ll attend Urbana 12 later this year (which always features a great selection of Stott’s work) — are much younger in their faith. One way or another, I think all of us are prone to the sort of selective discipleship Stott is concerned about.
Some — particularly older readers — may be a bit uncomfortable about the chapter on creation care as an essential aspect of discipleship, dealing with questions of population, depletion of resources, waste disposal, and climate change.
[Editor’s note: Some of the original URLs (links) referenced in this article are no longer valid, so the links have been removed.]