Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Remembering John Stott (1921-2011)

One of the most prominent leaders in the evangelical world has died. Together with CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, JI Packer, and others, I rank John Stott as among the foremost leaders of modern evangelical Christianity. He is 90. Known for his preaching and teaching effectiveness, Stott has been instrumental in the shape of evangelicalism today. Calling evangelicalism as a 'plain, ordinary Christian,' Stott has helped millions of ordinary people to come to a plain faith in Jesus. His books have influenced millions. His speeches have inspired countless number of people. What earth has lost, heaven has gained. CT has published a good obituary here.

I recall how his writings have been so effective in my own Christian life. "Issues Facing Christians Today" has been used not only in seminaries, but also in Bible studies, small groups, and Christian Education classes. Stott is also one who is firmly grounded in all things Bible, he is also sensitive to the culture at large. One of my most memorable quotes from Stott is this from the contemporary Christian. It is about learning to practice 'dual-listening.'

We stand between the Word and the world with consequent obligation to listen to both. We listen to the Word to discover even more of the riches of Christ. We listen to the world in order to discern which of Christ’s riches are needed most and how to present them in their best light.” (John Stott, The Contemporary Christian: Applying God's Word to Today's World, IVP, 1992, p110-111)

Basic Christianity (IVP Classics)Understanding the BibleHis teaching ministry has flourished with a global reach toward 'equipping a new generation of Bible teachers.' It will no doubt be spearheaded by people earnest for the gospel. He has contributed loads of material to disciple the young believer. Books like "Basic Christianity," "Understanding the Bible," and "Why I am a Christian" have been used for discipleship classes. One of his classic works remains "The Cross of Christ."
Why I Am a Christian
The Cross of Christ In it, he masterfully deals with the implications of Christ's death for God as well as for the world.

Stott is an immensely quotable person. Some of his best quotes are:
  • "Every Christian should be both conservative and radical; conservative in preserving the faith and radical in applying it." (CT Oct 1975)
  • "Faith is a reasoning trust, a trust which reckons thoughtfully and confidently upon the trustworthiness of God." (Stott, Your Mind Matters, IVP, 2006, p52)
  • "If I come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the underclap of God's, then indeed he will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behaviour." (Stott, Culture and the Bible, IVP, 1981, p33)
John Stott's life is demonstrated in how he weaves his life into his books, his teaching and his life. For me, Stott has left a legacy of what it means to be a Bible student, a teacher, as well as a pastor through a threefold lens. 

"In developing my theme, I have had in mind the triangle of Scripture, tradition, and the modern world. My first anxiety has been to be true to the Word of God, allowing it to say what it has to say and not asking it to say what I might want it to say. There is no alternative to careful exegesis of the text. Secondly, I have endeavoured to share some of the fruits of my reading. In seeking to understand the cross, one cannot ignore the great works of the past. To be disrespectful of tradition and of historical theology is to be disrespectful of the Holy Spirit who has been actively enlightening the Church in every century. Then, thirdly, I have tried to understand Scripture, not only in its own light and in the light of tradition, but also in relation to the contemporary world. I have asked what the cross of Christ says to us at the end of the twentieth century." (John Stott, The Cross of Christ, IVP, 1986, p17)

Farewell Dr Stott. Thank you for a life well lived.


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