As a 21-year-old new Christian, my assessment of John Stott's "Basic Christianity" was that it lived up to its title: basic. Simple, even. I digested it and moved on to heavier, more creative fare.

As a 25-year-old editor, I realized how deceived I had been. My task was to eliminate a few thousand words from two chapters by Stott so they could be printed as pamphlets. Halfway to my goal, I admitted defeat.

Never had I encountered such efficient prose. Every word, sentence, and paragraph had a purpose. To eliminate words was to eliminate content, important nuances, balancing points. As someone who has spent his entire adult life editing others' writing, let me assure you: this is rare.

I reread "Basic Christianity." What I had taken as simplistic was a presentation so logical and wise that it had built the conceptual foundation of my faith without my being aware of it. I realized Stott had the amazing ability to make his biblical positions seem so commonsensical that the opposite became inconceivable.

Not that at age 25 I was intimidated. When I sent him the manuscript, I mentioned that I disagreed with one of his points. Two weeks later, Stott called from London to explain his point to me.

Paul writes, "Be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ." Stott plays that role for me.

I never resolve a thorny issue without asking, "How would John Stott approach this?"

Last July we published a forum on the scandal of the evangelical mind. Perhaps we chose the wrong scandal. Wisdom seems scarcer than scholarship. Which is why I am thrilled to print an extended interview with Stott (in this issue). Not that his perspectives on the issues facing the church are all fresh. The real subject of the ...

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