What I’m Reading: Studies on the Person of Christ

Studies on the Person of ChristI’ve been gathering and reading books on the Person and Work of Christ in recent days, in part for the health of my own soul and in part in preparation for a book I’d like to write on Christ-centered Christianity. One of those books is Studies on the Person of Christ by James Stalker (1848-1927). The book, published by AMG Publishers as part of their “Pulpit Legends” series, is actually a reprinting of 3 of Stalker’s books: The Life of Christ (which I just completed), Imago Christi: The Example of Jesus Christ, and The Teaching of Jesus Concerning Himself.

Stalker, according to the publishers, was “one of Scotland’s most renowned preachers” in his day. They describe his theology thus: “Stalker’s theological perspective was based on ‘the-three-fold foundation of Scripture, tradition, and personal experience, with emphasis on the third.'” (from the book’s jacket) That’s troubling, to say the least. A similar idea is evident in the following comment on Christ’s education:

“He had the best of all keys to knowledge—the open mind and the loving heart; and the three great books lay ever open before Him—the Bible, Man, and Nature.” (p. 12-13)

Still, the book has provided some helpful insights. In particular, it seems that Stalker was at his best when discussing the trial, death, and resurrection of Christ. He “nails” the character and motives of the Jewish leaders, of Herod, and of Pilate, IMO, and he deals reverently and accurately with the significance of Christ’s death. Here’s a sample; after briefly discussing Jesus’ suffering at the hands of men, Stalker writes the following paragraph:

“There was a still more mysterious woe. Not only did the world’s sin thus press itself on His loving and holy soul in those near Him; it came from afar—from the past, the distant, and the future—and met on Him. He was bearing the sin of the world; and the consuming fire of God’s nature, which is the reverse side of the light of His holiness and love, flamed forth against Him, to scorch it away. So it pleased the Lord to put Him to grief, when He who knew no sin was made sin for us.” (p. 108)

That’s profound, and one needs only one book to learn it.

At this point, I’m not sure I’d commend the book to others, especially when there’s so much available on the topic, but I’ve enjoyed it and am looking forward to getting into parts 2 and 3.

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