Thursday, 28 July 2011
'Architect of 20th century evangelicalism' John Stott dies at 90
Former vicar of All Souls Langham Place in London, and a key leader among evangelicals worldwide, John Stott died at 3.15pm yesterday (27 July) in his retirement home at St Barnabas College.
He was with close friends, reading the Scriptures and listening to Handel's Messiah when he died peacefully. A memorial service is being planned for St Paul's Cathedral and details will be announced shortly.
The obituary in Christianity Today described him as "an architect of 20th-century evangelicalism [that] shaped the faith of a generation", and staff at All Souls have made their own tributes here.
Rev Hugh Palmer, Rector at All Souls, said: "John Stott was a very remarkable Christian leader with an international reputation but his church home was here at All Souls for nearly all his life, so his death will be felt by us at a very personal level.
"John came to the church as a child, and I can well remember him telling our family of his first visits to the Rectory as a member of the Sunday School. He was to spend more than 50 years as Curate, Rector and then Rector Emeritus in a remarkable ministry here. In every sense he was one of the church family, so his death leaves us with a real sense of loss as well as the confidence that he is with his Lord and ours."
Richard Bewes, Rector at All Souls from 1983-2004, commented: "John Stott was, under God, my 'insurance policy' against anything going wrong. I had known him ever since I was 13 years of age, when he drove me to the Scripture Union houseparty at which I made my teenage decision for Christ. Ever since, I thought of him as always 'there' to befriend, guide and inspire ... his works will follow him into all eternity."
And Michael Baughen, vicar then Rector of All Souls from 1970-82, added: "Vast numbers of us, all over the world, from the African village to the American penthouse feel we have lost a father, a brother, a counsellor, a friend, a model, a teacher, a strategist, though deeply thankful we have had the privilege of knowing this holy man of God, this faithful servant of Christ."
Doug Birdsall, executive chairman of the Lausanne Movement, put his global influence in context: "John Stott impacted the church around the world in many ways. Perhaps his greatest contribution was to articulate clearly and to defend robustly the evangelical faith which he always understood to be biblical faith, grounded in the New Testament. Evangelicalism was to Stott an expression of historic, orthodox Christianity.
"The Cross of Christ was central to the message. Stott preached the Cross as the sole means by which men and women could be made right with God.
"The resurrection of Christ was the great hope of his life, as it is for all mankind, and the hope for life beyond death. This is the great reality he is now experiencing as the reward and vindication for all he preached and for which he lived during the many years of his ministry in London and around the world.
"Perhaps more than any other person in the last century, John Stott restored confidence in the authority of God‚Äôs Word and in the centrality of biblical preaching and teaching. He inspired many evangelicals around the world to make a robust and clear affirmation of biblical truth while at the same time emphasising that this must be backed up with a distinctive, godly Christian life.
"He was able to hold together, in constructive biblical tension, a passionate commitment to evangelism along with a profound commitment to ministering to the needs of people in the context of suffering and brokenness. This is best expressed in The Lausanne Covenant, of which he is the chief author, and which is seen as the defining evangelical document of the 20th Century.
"Everywhere John Stott travelled to teach, he encouraged 'double listening'. This was a listening to the voice of the Spirit of God through his Word, and listening to the voice and the needs of our broken world.
"Stott was known for his love for the Majority World and for students. He gave himself tirelessly to assisting and encouraging pastors and students in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the South Pacific and the Middle East. He leaves friends everywhere."
Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: “John Stott’s life, writing and teaching had a profound impact on the 20th century Church.
“He will be remembered as a generous evangelical, committed to a gospel of truth packed with grace which could with confidence be communicated to a lost world. He will go on to be remembered as one of the leaders of the evangelical movement and will continue to have an impact for generations to come. While we mourn the loss of our brother in Christ, we rejoice that he has gone to be with the Lord he so loved.”
Converted at Rugby School in 1938 after hearing a sermon from Rev Eric 'Bash' Nash, Stott received crucial mentoring from Nash before studying at Cambridge, and going on to train for the ministry. Ordained in 1945, he became a curate at All Souls before serving as Rector from 1950-75.
John Stott played a vital role as a leader of evangelicalism within the Church of England and famously opposed a call from Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones for evangelicals to leave their denominations and unite together as an evangelical community, made at the National Assembly of Evangelicals in 1966. This rejection of a separatist approach for evangelicals was hugely influential in the path taken by UK evangelicals for decades to come.
His views on hell attracted criticism from some evangelicals. Stott leaned towards annihilationism, seeing hell as incineration into non-existence, rather than eternal conscious torment, the more traditional evangelical approach.
A prolific author, Stott founded the Langham Partnership International in 1974 and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity in 1982, of which he remained honorary president.
He was appointed chaplain to the Queen in 1959, and Extra Chaplain on his retirement in 1991. He received the CBE in the 2006 New Year's Honours list. In 2005, Time magazine ranked him as among the 100 most influential people in the world.
He remained single throughout his life, and said: "The gift of singleness is more a vocation than an empowerment, although to be sure God is faithful in supporting those he calls" (Albert Hsu, Singles At The Crossroads, IVP, 1997).