Monday, April 23, 2007



John Stott is the English-speaking world's highest-profile and most acclaimed 'evangelical'. We have lunched together, corresponded a bit, mentioned each other 'in despatches' and Jan and I were privileged to attend his 80th birthday celebration at the Albert Hall in London a couple of years ago: a great man, who has, with C S Lewis, influenced more undergraduates around the world in the last half-century towards an informed acceptance of the Christian faith than anyone else.

I first really encountered John Stott by reading his Basic Christianity when at Teachers’ College in 1957. Lucid, made sense + CSL’s Mere Christianity – coherent understanding of Christ’s claims about himself – and Christ’s claims on my life. Later, at that same college when I was an InterVarsity Fellowship staffworker (I think about 1970), I was privileged to have an hour’s lunch with this great man. Our discussion mainly centred around Charismatic Renewal: and was probably one of hundreds of ‘inputs’ into his thinking between his two publications on the subject - ‘The Baptism and Fullness of the Holy Spirit’ and ‘Baptism and Fullness’. The latter publication had a much more inclusive, accepting and irenic approach to the broad subject. I like to think I might have helped a little with that… I later – probably a year later – wrote to John Stott, beginning as so many letters to him probably did ‘You probably won’t remember me…’ and within a month I got a hand-written, one page response, beginning ‘Of course I remember you…’ He certainly did, because he commended me to a Baptist congregation in Vancouver, British Columbia, which soon after called us to the pastorate there. He also must have read my little book Recent Trends Among Evangelicals, which he cited a couple of times in his book Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea for Unity, Integrity and Faithfulness (1999).

I have sat in his audiences many times – at university missions, in public convention centres, at All Soul’s Langham Place, and, a couple of years ago, at a couple of public meetings in Melbourne (one of them in the auditorium of a church I pastored – Blackburn (now Crossway) Baptist Church. Before that, in 2001, Jan and I were in London, and were privileged to attend his 80th birthday concert in Albert? Royal Festival? Hall. He spoke for five or six minutes: a brilliant, carefully crafted summary of his Christian philosophy and commitment.

The influence of someone on your thinking can be measured by what-is-remembered-when about that person. I remember, for example, his brilliant talk on evangelical inclusiveness – ‘Don’t Let’s Polarize’ – at the Pharmacy College auditorium in Melbourne. I remember where I was (holidaying in Lord Howe Island) when I read the first (513-page) volume of Timothy Dudley-Smith’s biography of Stott. I’ve just Googled our website – it has 172 references to Stott; my ‘Desktop Google’ has 1141.



8. John R.W. Stott (1921- )

A favorite preacher among evangelicals around the globe, John Stott is Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church in London and Director of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. He served at All Souls Church as assistant curate (1945-50), as Rector (1950-75), and as Rector Emeritus since 1975. He was appointed a Chaplain to the Queen from 1959 to 1991.

Since his retirement, Stott has invested much of his ministry in working with pastors, church leaders and students in the Third World. He is the author of over 40 books, including Basic Christianity and The Cross of Christ. In his book I Believe in Preaching, Stott emphasized the place of proclamation in his own ministry:

"Nothing is better calculated to restore health and vitality to the church or to lead its members into maturity in Christ than a recovery of true, biblical, contemporary preaching . . . The task of preaching today is extremely exacting, as we seek to build bridges between the Word and the world, between divine revelation and human experience, and to relate the one to the other with integrity and relevance."


"When the first International Congress on Preaching was held in London in 1997, one of the most exciting elements for me was the opportunity to meet John Stott.

For so many years I have admired this gifted author and preacher, whose insights about the preaching task have meant so much to so many. His little book, The Preacher's Portrait, is one of the most meaningful volumes ever written about the nature and calling of the preacher; I cannot count the number of times I have recommended it to young pastors.

At a stage of life and a stature in which he could do whatever he wishes, Dr. Stott is today dedicating his life to helping train and encourage Christian preachers in the Third World. Only God knows the number of lives which will have been influenced for Christ because of the faithful ministry of John Stott." (Michael Duduit, Editor, Preaching)



(Watch for my review of Timothy Dudley-Smith's two-volume biography of Stott: generally inspiring, and worth anyone's investing time to read, though you'll have to skim a lot of unnecessary/irrelevant details!). ( )

According to Kittel's great Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, the Greek word for salvation was used in the ancient world from Homer onwards of 'an acutely dynamic act in which gods or people snatch others by force from serious peril' whether the danger was a battle, a storm at sea, condemnation in a law court, illness or death... We use the same terminology today, when a surgeon saves a patient's life by an operation, the fire brigade saves someone trapped in a burning building, or a rescue team saves a climber stranded on a mountain rockface. In each case somebody is in acute peril. 'Salvation' means nothing unless there is a situation of grave danger from which a person needs to be rescued...
So let me ask you: have you received the salvation which the gospel proclaims? Have you trusted personally in Christ who once secured and now offers this salvation? Only then shall we be able to say from our experience: 'I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.'
John Stott, 'Salvation Today', a sermon preached in All Souls' Church of England, Langham Place, London, on 7 October, 1973. Published in All Souls' Magazine, date unknown, pp. 11-15.


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