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John Stott Has Died

Theologian John Stott is dead. His little book, "How to Become a Christian," helped chang my life.

John Robert Walmsley Stott, CBE (27 April 1921 – 27 July 2011) was an English Christian leader and Anglican clergyman who was noted as a leader of the worldwide evangelical movement. He was one of the principal authors of the Lausanne Covenant in 1974. In 2005, Time magazine ranked Stott among the 100 most influential people in the world.[1]



Childhood and family

Stott was born in London to Sir Arnold and Emily Stott. Sir Arnold Stott was a leading physician at Harley Street and an agnostic, while his wife was a Lutheran church-goer who attended the nearby Church of England church, All Souls, Langham Place. Stott was sent to boarding school at eight years old — initially prep school at Oakley Hall.[2] In 1935, he went on to Rugby School.[3]

While at Rugby School in 1938, Stott heard the Reverend Eric Nash ('Bash') deliver a sermon entitled, What Then Shall I Do with Jesus, Who Is Called the Christ? [4] After this talk, Bash pointed Stott to Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Stott later described the impact this verse had upon him as follows:

"Here, then, is the crucial question which we have been leading up to. Have we ever opened our door to Christ? Have we ever invited him in? This was exactly the question which I needed to have put to me. For, intellectually speaking, I had believed in Jesus all my life, on the other side of the door. I had regularly struggled to say my prayers through the key-hole. I had even pushed pennies under the door in a vain attempt to pacify him. I had been baptized, yes and confirmed as well. I went to church, read my Bible, had high ideals, and tried to be good and do good. But all the time, often without realising it, I was holding Christ at arm's length, and keeping him outside. I knew that to open the door might have momentous consequences. I am profoundly grateful to him for enabling me to open the door. Looking back now over more than fifty years, I realise that that simple step has changed the entire direction, course and quality of my life.[5]

Stott was mentored by Bash, who wrote a weekly letter to him, advising him on how to develop and grow in his Christian life, as well as practicalities such as leading the Christian Union at his school.

University and Theological College

Stott studied modern languages at Trinity College, Cambridge where he graduated with a double first in French and Theology. At university, he was active in the Cambridge inter-collegiate Christian Union (CICCU), where the executive committee that ran it considered him too invaluable a person to be asked to commit his time by joining the executive committee.

After this, he transferred to Ridley Hall Theological College, Cambridge, so he could become ordained as an Anglican clergyman.


Stott was ordained in 1945 and went on to become a curate at All Souls Church, Langham Place (1945-1950) then rector (1950-75).[6] This was the church in which he had grown up, and in which he has spent almost all of his life, aside from a few years spent in Cambridge.

While in this position, he became increasingly influential on a national and international basis, most notably being a key player in the 1966/67 dispute about the appropriateness of evangelicals remaining in the church of England. In 1970, in response to increasing demands on his time from outside of the All Souls congregation, he appointed a vicar of All Souls, to enable himself to work instead on other projects. In 1975, he resigned as Rector, and the then vicar was appointed in his place—he remained at the church, and was appointed "Rector Emeritus".

He founded the Langham Partnership International (known as John Stott Ministries in the U.S.) in 1974 and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity in 1982 of which he remained honorary president until his death.


Stott announced his retirement from public ministry in April 2007 at the age of 86. He took has up residence in The College of St Barnabas, Lingfield, a retirement community for Anglican clergy but remained as Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church.


Stott has had considerable influence in evangelicalism. In a November 2004 editorial on Stott, New York Times columnist David Brooks cited Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center as saying that "if evangelicals could elect a pope, Stott is the person they would likely choose."[7]


He has written over 50 books, some of which appear only in Chinese, Korean or Spanish, as well as many articles and papers.

One of these is Basic Christianity (ISBN 0-87784-690-1), a book which seeks to explain the message of Christianity, and convince its readers of its truth and importance.

He is also the author of The Cross of Christ (ISBN 0-87784-998-6), of which J. I. Packer stated, "No other treatment of this supreme subject says so much so truly and so well."

Other books he wrote include Essentials, a dialogue with a liberal clergyman and theologian (David L. Edwards) over whether what Evangelicals hold as essential should be seen as such. He has also recently written Evangelical Truth, which summarises what he perceives as being the central claims of Christianity, essential for evangelicalism. A non-exhaustive bibliography can be found at the Langham Partnership website

Despite his formal retirement from public engagements, he was still engaged in regular writing:

A useful introduction to his thought can be found in his two final, substantial publications, which act as a summation and last will and testament. Both were published by the publishing house with which he has had a lifelong association: IVP.

  • In 2007, his reflections on the life of the church: The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor (ISBN 1-84474-183-4)
  • In January 2010, at the age of 88, he saw the launch of what would explicitly be his final book: The Radical Disciple (ISBN 1-84474-421-3) It concludes with a poignant farewell and appeal for his legacy to be continued through the work of Langham Partnership International

Anglican Evangelicalism

Stott played a key role as a leader of evangelicalism within the Church of England, and was regarded as instrumental at persuading evangelicals to play an active role in the Church of England rather than leaving for exclusively evangelical denominations. There were two major events where he played a key role in this regard.

He was chairing the National Assembly of Evangelicals in 1966, a convention organised by the Evangelical Alliance, when Martyn Lloyd-Jones made an unexpected call for evangelicals to unite together as evangelicals and no longer within their 'mixed' denominations. This view was motivated by a belief that true Christian fellowship requires evangelical views on central topics such as the atonement and the inspiration of Scripture. Lloyd-Jones was a key figure to many in the Free Churches, and evangelical Anglicans regarded Stott similarly. The two leaders publicly disagreed as Stott, though not down as a speaker that night, used his role as chairman of the meeting to refute Lloyd-Jones, saying that his opinion went against history and the Bible. The following year saw the first National Evangelical Anglican Congress, which was held at Keele University. At this conference, largely due to Stott's influence, evangelical Anglicans committed themselves to full participation in the Church of England, rejecting the separationist approach proposed by Lloyd-Jones.[8]

These two conferences effectively fixed the direction of a large part of the British evangelical community. Although there is an ongoing debate as to the exact nature of Lloyd-Jones's views, they undoubtedly caused the two groupings to adopt diametrically opposed positions. These positions, and the resulting split, continue largely unchanged to this day.[9]


Stott was appointed a Chaplain to Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 1959,[10] and on his retirement in 1991, an Extra Chaplain.[11] He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honours 2006.[12] He has received a number of honorary doctorates, as well as a Lambeth Doctorate of Divinity.


Stott has publicly considered the idea of annihilationism, which is the belief that hell is incineration into non-existence,[13] rather than eternal conscious torment (the traditional Evangelical approach). This led to a heated debate within mainstream evangelical Christianity: some writers criticised Stott in very strong terms whilst others supported his views.[14]Stott has also supported the ordination of women deacons and presbyters, although he does not believe they should be in positions of headship.

Personal life

Stott has remained celibate his entire life. He says, "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. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997. p. 178.)

Stott's favourite relaxation is birdwatching; his book 'The Birds Our Teachers' draws on this interest.[15]


  • The Message of Romans: God's Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today). ISBN 978-08380812462.
  • Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: The Making of a Leader, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, 1999. The authorized biography of the first forty years of the life of John Stott. ISBN 978-0851117577.
  • Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: A Global Ministry, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, 2001. The second volume of the authorized biography of John Stott, covering 1960 onwards. ISBN 978-0851119830.
  • Books by John Stott


  1. ^ Time magazine: The world's most influential people
  2. ^ Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: The Making of a Leader (Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, 1999), pg.'s 53-4, &
  3. ^ Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: The Making of a Leader (Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, 1999), pg. 69
  4. ^ see chapter 6: John Eddison (ed) "A Study in Spiritual Power; An Appreciation of E J H Nash (Bash) (Highland; Crowborough, 1992) p 82
  5. ^ John Stott, quoted in Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: The Making of a Leader (Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, 1999), pg. 95
  6. ^ London Gazette: no. 38952. p. 3256. 23 June 1950. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
  7. ^ Brooks, David (2004-11-30). "New York Times: Who is John Stott?". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/30/opinion/30brooks.html. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  8. ^ Cook, Paul (2007-02). "Evangelicalism in the UK". Evangelical Times. http://www.evangelical-times.org/Website_Pages/ArticleDetail.php?articleID=2166. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
  9. ^ Gibson, Alan (1996-10). "Thirty Years Of Hurt?". Evangelicals Now. http://www.e-n.org.uk/217-Thirty-years-of-hurt.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
  10. ^ London Gazette: no. 41751. p. 4169. 26 June 1959. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
  11. ^ London Gazette: no. 52532. p. 7437. 14 May 1991. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
  12. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57855. p. 9. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
  13. ^ Essentials, John Stott and David Edwards
  14. ^ Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: A Global Ministry
  15. ^ Article in "Why Iam still an Anglican", Continuum, 2006, page 7

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