The writers of the Bible thought God brought rain, floods, drought, and heat waves as punishment for sin. Only television evangelist Pat Robertson still seems to think that way, for he not only was said to have prayed a hurricane away from his Virginia television empire, but to have warned the people of Orlando, Florida, that they were at risk of a hurricane for passing a gay-friendly city ordinance. Does John Stott think "revealed truth" is found in that mentality?

When fundamentalists and evangelicals come to the Christ story, the stakes go up dramatically, and the claims for the "revealed truth" of the Bible become excessive. But biblical scholars note the disparities in both the story of Jesus' birth and of his resurrection. They also note that both the virgin birth and the resurrection, understood as physical resuscitation, do not even enter the Christian story until the ninth decade of the Christian era. But John Stott does not face these insights, for they would contradict his "revealed truth" theory.

John Stott tells the story of the crucifixion of Jesus in terms of God demanding the sacrifice of his son. He will wax eloquent about the sin of human life, its fall from grace, its need for rescue and restoration to a pre-fallen status. It will all be so clear. Yet post-Darwinian thinking suggests there never was a fall into sin because there never was a righteous pre-fallen human status, either in history or in mythology.

Rather, evolution teaches us that life has emerged and evolved over billions of years. Human beings are incomplete creatures who need to be empowered. We are not fallen creatures, lost in sin, who need the bloodshed of a human sacrifice of the son of God in order to have the price of our sins paid to a judging deity. What a grotesque idea this "revealed truth" is. I am repelled by those images.

John Stott is quoted as saying that "the great tragedy of the Church today is that evangelicals are biblical, but not contemporary, while liberals are contemporary, but not biblical." It is a nice try, a clever, evenhanded approach, but it does not work. It is not biblical to read the Bible in a superstitious, ill-informed manner. It is not biblical for John Stott to justify every prejudice, to whitewash chauvinism, racism, homophobia, and a not-so-subtle hatred for everyone who does not affirm the evangelical value system.

"Revealed truth" turns out to be evangelical propaganda. John Stott surely must know that the claim of "revealed truth" is sustained only where critical biblical scholarship is denied. The value of the Bible is not found in its supernatural claims, but in its story of people walking through history and seeing that every life, not just the members of their tribe, bears the image of the Holy God.

The Bible tells us that in the life of Jesus, who is perceived as a God presence, every life is loved, even those who reject, betray, deny, and kill the God-bearer. Finally, the Bible suggests that every life is called into the fullness of his or her humanity by the life of the Spirit. That is our destiny--to be our deepest, fullest, most complete selves in all of our wondrous diversity. That is the truth that keeps breaking through the barriers of Scripture, that the John Stotts of this world continue to confuse with the revealed will of God.

John Stott's Christianity and the fundamentalist, evangelical tradition he espouses will finally do nothing except justify the human divisions between the saved and the unsaved. That religious stance will ultimately victimize every person who does not reside inside the definition of the Bible as "revealed truth," as Stott interprets it.

So John Stott has decided to retire. What he needs to recognize is that all of his major ideas have also retired long before him. Perhaps they will now be happy together.