John R.W. Stott is very much respected among many professing Christians (I think Calvinists as well as Arminians). Despite Stott’s damnable doctrine of annihilationism he STILL remains highly revered.
Stott supports annihilation, yet cautions, “I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively… I believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment” (Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue by David L. Edwards with a response from John Stott, p. 320).
I have not read the book “Essentials” (which I think was written in 1988), but in light of Stott’s view that annihilation should be considered a legitimate and biblically founded option, he does not believe that the propitiatory cross-work of Christ is one of these “essentials.” The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ delivers us from the coming wrath, not the coming annihilation. Also, the doctrine of annihilation nullifies the cross of Christ as propitiation (cf. Romans 3:25) since the annihilation of the non-elect is a ceasing of wrath and a ceasing of wrath is satisfaction. Thus, the annihilation of the non-elect is satisfaction. As far as satisfaction is concerned, the Satanic, antichristian (cf. 1 John) doctrine of annihilationism puts the non-elect on equal footing with the cross-work of Jesus Christ.
John Stott, in his highly acclaimed 1986 book, The Cross of Christ writes:
“Richard Hooker, the sixteenth-century Anglican theologian and Master of the Temple in London, applauded the fact that the early church fathers, in spite of heathen scorn at the sufferings of Christ, ‘chose rather the sign of the cross [that is, in baptism] than any other outward mark, whereby the world might most easily discern always what they were.’ 8 He was aware of the forthright objections of the Puritans. ‘Crossing and such like pieces of Popery,’ they were saying, ‘which the church of God in the Apostle’s time never knew,’ ought not to be used, for human inventions ought not to be added to divine institutions, and there was always the danger of superstitious misuse. As King Hezekiah destroyed the brazen serpent, so crossing should be abandoned. But Hooker stood his ground. In ‘matters indifferent,’ which were not incompatible with Scripture, Christians were free. Besides, the sign of the cross had a positive usefulness: it is ‘for us an admonition … to glory in the service of Jesus Christ, and not to hang down our heads as men ashamed thereof, although it procure us reproach and obloquy at the hands of this wretched world 9′” (Stott, The Cross of Christ, pp. 28-29).
8 Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1593-97), 5.65.20, “Of the Cross in Baptism,” in The Works of Richard Hooker, ed. John Keble, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1845).
9 Ibid., 5.65.6.
I wonder if Hooker thought that pictures of Christ or crosses in or on buildings were also “matters indifferent.” To truly boast in the cross of Christ and not be ashamed of it is NOT to engage in superstitious and idolatrous crossing of oneself, but to believe that the cross-work of Christ is what makes the difference between salvation and damnation and to judge all who do not believe this as lost God-haters who make their boast in self as what makes the difference. The CCF speaks of such boasters in self:
Those who deny the effectual work of Jesus Christ, claiming instead that the blood of Jesus Christ atoned for everyone without exception (including those in hell), deny the very heart of the gospel. They do not believe that it is the work of Jesus Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation; instead, these self-righteous boasters believe that it is the effort of the sinner that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. These blasphemers deny that Jesus Christ made full satisfaction for sins and that Jesus Christ accomplished and ensured salvation for all whom He represented. They trample underfoot the precious blood of Jesus Christ, treating it as something of no value. They glory and boast in themselves, for whatever one believes makes the difference between salvation and damnation is what one glories and boasts in. There is not a single one of these blasphemers who is a child of God. [Psa 25:14; 74:18; 94:4; 139:20; Pro 30:12-13; Isa 28:14-18; 42:8; 48:11; Joh 16:8-14; Rom 3:27-28; 4:2; 10:3; 16:17-18; 1Co 2:12; 2Co 10:3-6; Gal 1:8-9; 6:14; Eph 2:8-9; Phi 3:18-19; 1Ti 4:1; 2Ti 3:2-5; 4:3-4; Heb 10:29; 1Jo 2:22-23; 4:6; 2Jo 9]