Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: John Stott (1921-2011)

One of the great leaders of our time has died.  The first time I met John Stott was when I was living in London during my junior year in college.  My rector at the time, now the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, had recommended All Souls Langham Place as a place to go to church.  I met John Stott one Sunday evening on the steps of All Souls and had no idea at the time who he was, except that he was the vicar of a vibrant church in the heart of London that I began to attend regularly.  His preaching and teaching was both a challenge and an encouragement.  I never forgot him.  From here:
John Stott
World-renowned evangelist and Biblical scholar John Stott died Wednesday at 3.15 p.m. local time in London (10.15 a.m. EST), according to John Stott Ministries President Benjamin Homan.

Homan has reported that Stott’s death has come following a few weeks of discomfort, and that the death was simply related to complications related to old age.

Stott, who died at 90, retired from public ministry in 2007 when he was 86 years old. He spent his retirement in the College of St. Barnabas, Lingfield, which is a residence for retired Anglican clergy.

The English Anglican leader is revered for his ministry life. The world famous evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, described him as "the most respected clergyman in the world today."
Read it all here.

And here:
New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote (quoting Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center) that if evangelicals chose a pope, they would likely select John Stott. As a principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant (1974), a defining statement for evangelical Christians, Stott was at the heart of evangelical renewal in the U.K. for more than half a century. In 2005, he was honored by Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” His many books and sermons have inspired and transformed millions throughout the world.

John Stott at his desk.
John Robert Walmsley Stott, CBE, was born April 27, 1921, in London to Sir Arnold Stott, a leading physician, and his wife, Emily. His father was an agnostic, while his mother was a Lutheran who attended church at All Souls, Langham Place. He converted to Christianity at Rugby School in 1938, and after finishing there he went on to study modern language at Trinity College, Cambridge. After earning double firsts in French and theology, he transferred to Ridley Hall Theological College, Cambridge, and was ordained as an Anglican clergyman in 1945. Stott became a curate at All Souls Church (1945–1950) and then rector (1950–1975). He resigned as rector in 1975, although he remained in the church and was appointed Rector Emeritus. In 1974 he founded Langham Partnership International (known as John Stott Ministries in the U.S.), a ministry that seeks to equip Majority World churches for mission and spiritual growth. Stott finally retired from public ministry in 2007 at the age of eighty-six.

Stott’s influence on evangelicalism throughout the world is extensive. He has written more than fifty books, including various Bible studies and Bible commentaries. As Stott’s main publisher in the U.S., InterVarsity Press enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the man they called “Uncle John.” IVP associate publisher for editorial Andy Le Peau said that Stott’s works were embraced for their “clear, balanced, sound perspective on Scripture and life. He was filled with a grace and strength that will be dearly missed in this era of extreme viewpoints and harsh rhetoric.”

Stott is best known for his many books, especially Basic Christianity (InterVarsity Press), a clear statement of the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been translated into over sixty-three languages; The Cross of Christ (InterVarsity Press), which former InterVarsity Press publisher James F. Nyquist says “demonstrates the depth of Stott’s understanding and lifetime commitment”; Christian Mission in the Modern World(InterVarsity Press), in which Stott makes the case that Christian outreach must encompass both evangelism and social action; Your Mind Matters (InterVarsity Press), a forceful appeal for Christian discipleship that engages the intellect as well as the heart; and The Birds, Our Teachers (Baker), a study on birds combined with biblical truths and personal anecdotes. InterVarsity Press has also published a biography of John Stott entitled, Basic Christian by Roger Steer. Stott was also the New Testament editor and a major contributor for the highly acclaimed Bible Speaks Today commentary series.

“We are deeply grateful for this long publishing partnership and friendship with one of the most influential and beloved evangelical leaders for the past half-century,” saidInterVarsity Press publisher Bob Fryling. “John Stott was not only revered; he was loved. He had a humble mind and a gracious spirit. He was a pastor-teacher whose books and preaching not only became the gold standard for expository teaching, but his Christian character was a model of truth and godliness. We will miss ‘Uncle John’ but we celebrate his life and writings as an extraordinary testimony of one who was abundantly faithful to his Lord Jesus Christ.”
Read it all here.

David Brooks on John Stott:
It could be that you have never heard of John Stott. I don't blame you. As far as I can tell, Stott has never appeared on an important American news program. A computer search suggests that Stott's name hasn't appeared in The New York Times since April 10, 1956, and it's never appeared in many other important publications.

John Stott (1921-2011)
Yet, as Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center notes, if evangelicals could elect a pope, Stott is the person they would likely choose. He was the framer of the Lausanne Covenant, a crucial organizing document for modern evangelicalism. He is the author of more than 40 books, which have been translated into over 72 languages and have sold in the millions. Now rector emeritus at All Souls, Langham Place, in London, he has traveled the world preaching and teaching.

When you read Stott, you encounter first a tone of voice. Tom Wolfe once noticed that at a certain moment all airline pilots came to speak like Chuck Yeager. The parallel is inexact, but over the years I've heard hundreds of evangelicals who sound like Stott.

It is a voice that is friendly, courteous and natural. It is humble and self-critical, but also confident, joyful and optimistic. Stott's mission is to pierce through all the encrustations and share direct contact with Jesus. Stott says that the central message of the Gospel is not the teachings of Jesus, but Jesus himself, the human/divine figure. He is always bringing people back to the concrete reality of Jesus' life and sacrifice.

There's been a lot of twaddle written recently about the supposed opposition between faith and reason.

To read Stott is to see someone practicing "thoughtful allegiance" to scripture. For him, Christianity means probing the mysteries of Christ. He is always exploring paradoxes. Jesus teaches humility, so why does he talk about himself so much? What does it mean to gain power through weakness, or freedom through obedience? In many cases the truth is not found in the middle of apparent opposites, but on both extremes simultaneously.

Stott is so embracing it's always a bit of a shock — especially if you're a Jew like me — when you come across something on which he will not compromise. It's like being in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, except he has a backbone of steel.
Read it all here.

Here is a teaching from John Stott from Keswick 2007 - a must-see:

The New York Times also has a very good summation of his life here.

1 comment:

Pageantmaster said...

I have been amazed reading the tributes to the personal impact Uncle John's teaching had on them by people right across the Globe. I say that as one of them.

God has blessed us with John Stott's ministry...which continues to grow, because he planted seeds which are now flourishing trees and vines and in turn producing fruit and new seeds. Perhaps looking back we will see we had a prophet sent to us.