John G Stackhouse Jr

John G. Stackhouse, Jr. (b. 1960) is a Christian theologian and, since 1998, the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. Born in Kingston, Ontario, Stackhouse earned a BA from Queen's University and an MA from Wheaton College (1982) where he did his thesis under Mark Noll. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago (1987), and his dissertation was titled "Proclaiming the Word: Canadian Evangelicalism since World War I" and was supervised by Martin E. Marty.

Stackhouse first taught history at the International Teams School of World Mission and Wheaton College in suburban Chicago. He then taught European history at Northwestern College in Iowa. From there he returned to Canada in 1990 as the specialist in modern Christianity in the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Stackhouse was raised in the Christian ("Plymouth") Brethren. Since leaving that group in 1980, he has belonged to a considerable range of churches, including Mennonite Brethren, Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, independent, and Christian & Missionary Alliance. He continues to be aligned with the main tenets and practices of historic evangelicalism while exploring fresh insights on matters of secondary importance.

For example, Stackhouse argues for an inclusivist understanding of the gospel and salvation here, rejecting the notion that those who never hear of Christ are lost. "To confine the scope of salvation to those who have heard certain facts about Jesus and who come to accept him on this basis, therefore, is not necessitated by the Bible, and in fact is not even the best way to understand the Bible."

Stackhouse argues for an expansion of the meaning of gospel: "The Christian gospel therefore is not a narrowly spiritual one, but literally embraces everything, everywhere, at every moment. Every action that brings shalom—that preserves or enhances the flourishing of things, people, and relationships—is the primary will of God for humanity. Christians ought therefore to recognize and affirm anything our neighbors do to make peace, whether those neighbors intend to honor God or not. Indeed, we can cooperate with them in those ventures, since we see in them the divine agenda of shalom."

Stackhouse defends a broad approach to apologetics that offers warrants to the neighbour in acts of love, rather than engaging in apologetics as "a martial art." He also offers a new understanding of the Bible's depiction of gender, arguing that the Bible does teach, in fact, both patriarchy and egalitarianism, and it is God's pragmatic accommodation to human sin in the interests of furthering the gospel that explains this apparent contradiction.

His most recent book offers an alternative to the usual cultural options offered serious Christians: separation from all that might compromise Christian holiness into alternative ecclesiastical societies of witness and service or conquest of the world, transforming it into a truly Christian economy. Instead of these radical alternatives, Stackhouse revises "Christian realism" according to the later Dietrich Bonhoeffer and according to his own evangelical convictions. This ethic construes Christian discipleship fundamentally within the primal directive of God in Genesis 1 and 2 to fill the earth and garden it--in sum, to "make the best of it." As such, the book both affirms and enlarges typical evangelical priorities.

Selected publications

  • Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World (Oxford, 2008)
  • Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic Christian Understanding of Gender (Baker Academic, 2005)
  • Church: An Insider's Look at How We Do It (Baker, 2003; reprinted by Regent College Publishing, 2003)
  • Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith Today (Oxford University Press, 2002; paperback edition, 2006)
  • Evangelical Landscapes: Facing Critical Issues of the Day (Baker Academic, 2002)
  • Can God Be Trusted? Faith and the Challenge of Evil (Oxford University Press, 1998; 2nd edition, IVP, 2009)
  • Canadian Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century (University of Toronto Press, 1993; reprinted by Regent College Publishing, 1999)

Edited books

  • Evangelical Ecclesiology: Reality or Illusion? (Baker Academic, 2003)
  • What Does It Mean to Be Saved? Broadening Evangelical Horizons of Salvation (Baker Academic, 2002)
  • No Other Gods Before Me? Evangelicals Encounter the World's Religions (Baker Academic, 2001)
  • Evangelical Futures: A Conversation on Theological Method (Baker Academic, 2000)

Online writings