Bret James Stewart's Reviews > The Message of the Sermon on the Mount

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John R.W. Stott
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really liked it

I appreciate John Stott’s sincerity, insight, and writing style, so I expected to learn a lot with this book. I was not disappointed. The book covers Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7, which is probably the best known of His discourses. It contains the fundamentals of the Christian faith and what the church should look like in deed as well as thought. As Stott himself says, “It is the nearest thing to a manifesto that he ever uttered, for it is his own description of what he wanted his followers to be and to do” (14-15). As might be expected, Jesus focuses much on the intent of the heart along with the actions of the body, so that insincere actions and sincere non-action are both faulted.

The book contains an introduction, then a straight-forward commentary on the text grouped by verses of related thought in the standard manner, and followed by a study guide on the sermon for small group study or Sunday School. There are no indices, which I find disappointing for a scholarly work. The book is otherwise laid out well, so that it is easy to find subject headings and subcategories. In addition to the lack of indices, Stott makes the error of incorporating the Roman Catholic religion into Christianity. Although he is adept enough to understand its religious practices are blasphemous from a Christian perspective, he evidently has bought into the lie that, in Christianity, there are two “branches” of the religion: Protestant (correct) and the various Catholic/Orthodox (incorrect), which is a deception of the greatest magnitude. I strongly argue that there never have been and never will be “branches” of the faith. This is mightily dangerous because it makes Christianity appear to be wrong, it makes people think Catholics, etc. are saved and members of Christianity, which is largely untrue, thereby creating a situation wherein millions of people will be skipped over by evangelists and never hear the Word they so desperately need—the same Word that Jesus is providing in the Sermon on the Mount--and it further causes problems in matters of doctrine and practice as well as confusion over what Christianity is and has done. Most notably, I am scandalized by the Christian Church being blamed for the Inquisition and other horrors it had nothing to do with as these were Roman Catholic travesties.

Otherwise, Stott has done well. I have read a number of articles by him, so I expected a conservative approach to the text. Stott seems thoughtful in his writings, and I appreciate an author taking time to address the material and grapple with the issues it contains. The thematic approach Stott uses with the text fits well as the Bible verses themselves are thematic; this creates text that lends itself to clarity of thought as well as intent. I think this book should be read by all Christians and anyone who is interested in learning about the teachings of Christ and how He expected His followers to exhibit the faith in real life.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 14, 2015 – Shelved

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