John Stott Remembered— Courtesy of Scot McKnight and James Foster

John Stott Remembered— Courtesy of Scot McKnight and James Foster August 6, 2011

John Piper sings about John Stott’s expositions.

Scott McKnight:

Filed under: Uncategorized — scotmcknight @ 9:30 am

Today I want to open up the Comments to anyone who wants to record memories of John Stott, and you can also drop links to obituaries and memorials about this great man’s ministry. Perhaps you want to comment on what you have learned from him, which of his books has been most influential, or some personal experience.

I hope to get a post up soon about one of my favorite books by Stott. Until then, I’d love it folks would offer comments and links. There is an official site for John Stott, and I do hope you can visit it. Already there are hundreds of comments.

But first, and Kris has asked me to add this, a story of mine about Stott from One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow:

It was the summer of 1975. Kris and I were in Belgium at a huge Christian event called EuroFest. I was sitting at a panel discussion and someone I admired, a British pastor and minister to college students all over the world, John Stott, was one of the panelists. A long-haired young man to my right asked John Stott a question we were all facing and that we all face: How can I discern the Lord’s will for my life?

John Stott made an observation that clarified my dream for me, and I’ve pondered his answer over and over in my life. I’ve used his answer in countless talks and conversations. Here are his words as I recall them: “Here’s how to determine God’s will for your life: Go wherever your gifts will be exploited the most.” I can recall the moment as if it was yesterday.

I saw these two links yesterday — floating my on my Google+ feed.

Third Way.Some people might say that your commitment to the justice of God, expressed in social terms, had led to a watering-down of your commitment to the gospel.
I think that’s rubbish, honestly. I don’t think they can produce any evidence to substantiate that idea. I remain committed to evangelism. I have had the privilege of leading more than 50 university missions all over the world, and they spanned a period of 25 years, until I felt I was a little out of touch with the student generation, and too old.

I can honestly say that my social concerns have not in the very least diminished my zeal for evangelism. If anything, it’s the other way round. What people could say is that I talk a lot about social action but don’t do much about it. And that is true, because my calling is to be a pastor, and although I disagree with polarisation between these two, I’ve often said I do believe in specialisation.

Acts 6 is the obvious biblical basis for this: the apostles were not willing to be distracted from the ministry of the word and prayer. In fact, the seven were appointed to handle the care of the widows. Both those works are called diakonia, ‘ministry’; both required Spirit-filled people to exercise them. Both were necessary, but one was social, the other was pastoral.

The Guardian, by David Turner: “Stott, radical in his conservatism, could not be pigeonholed. He was deeply committed to the need for social, economic and political justice and passionately concerned about climate change and ecological ethics. He regarded the Bible as his supreme authority and related its teaching to all areas of knowledge and experience. He insisted that Christians should engage in “double listening” – to the word of God, and to the world around them – and apply their biblical faith to all the pressing issues of contemporary culture. He himself researched, preached and wrote on a wide range of matters – from global debt to global warming, from the duties of the state to medical ethics and euthanasia. This was the kind of evangelicalism he embodied.”


  1. I get his quotes update every day on email. Love his insight into Bible. His book, The Cross of Christ is the one that I benefited from the most.

    Comment by John — July 30, 2011 @ 10:28 am

  2. I keenly remember John Stott speaking for a week of Chapel while I was a student at Gordon-Conwell in the mid ’80s. He spoke out of 1 Thessalonians on the organic connections between Gospel, Church, and Mission. One day he spoke in particular about the pastoral calling to proclaim the Gospel. He provoked students to get comfortable with the uncomfortable nature of preaching the message of Jesus in the world. If we couldn’t hack it, he goaded us to go into the shoe selling business – that way, we could give people something that fit them comfortably and made them happy. I have never forgotten that “encouragement” and “exhortation” from Dr. Stott. He also noted that American pastors tended to drive big cars and have small libraries, while British pastors tended to the reverse. (I’ve always driven a compact and have two entire rooms of books!)

    Comment by Howard Burgoyne — July 30, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  3. I heard John Stott speak a few times at Gull Lake Bible Conference near Kalamazoo, MI and Stott was always profound and helpful in understanding the Scriptures. My clearest memory of Stott was in the summer or fall of 1982 I went to hear him speak and I went up to him afterwards and told him that I was trying to decide between going to Seminary and Law School. I’ll never forget his response, “ah, the challenge of choosing between law and grace, may God direct you clearly.”

    Comment by John Raymond — July 30, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  4. “Your Mind Matters,” along with every other book I read by him. He represented the best of evangelicalism. Said a lot, very well in few words.

    I especially like his thought of listening to the word and the world. Reminds me of the passage where it says that leaders of Israel understood the times, and knew what Israel ought to do.

    So much depth to this man and his ministry. Good to see this post and pick up others on this.

    Comment by Ted M. Gossard — July 30, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  5. I never got to meet John Stott, and only “know” him through writings. I appreciate his scholarship and practical application. As a pastor and also instructor of Bible myself, I found his book “Between Two Worlds” to speak to me when I was initially being shaped in my calling. I still think of myself in those terms — in so many ways — even in the 21st Century (his subtitle is “the art of preaching in the twentieth century”).

    Also, that “Bible Speaks Today” series which he edited and contributed to, proved helpful, especially when I taught undergraduates. He made the text accessible and the issues in the text understandable.

    and as an African American urban pastor, I like how he helped highlight some of my issues (whether he thought of that way or not) related to the false dichotomy of social justice and evangelism.

    Comment by Dennis — July 30, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  6. I have met John Stott for the first time in Romania, around 1987. He was convinced to come wit the promise of a trip to see the birds paradise in the Danube Delta.
    Besides the few church services where he preached, a small number of us (mostly associated with the Navigators ministry in Romania, but also some pastors) met with him secretly in some back rooms of the Baptist church. I will never forget his humility and crystal clear Bible expositions.
    Later on, in 1994 I had the privilege of translating for him at the school in Oradea where I was teaching at that time.
    During my theological studies in London I have considered All Souls my church and, together with the insights gained in my study of Orthodox ecclesiology, this led me some years later to the ‘Canterbury trail’.
    During my stay in London I have visited twice his apartment in close to Langham PLace (I have shared about this on my blog – I also have some pictures there)and I realised that the simplicity of his place matched perfectly his character.
    As a Langham scholar, I will be eternally grateful for uncle John’s touch on my life. May God rest him with the saints. Axios!

    Comment by Danut Manastireanu — July 30, 2011 @ 10:43 am
  7. John Stott was a hero, a guide.

    About 20 years ago, I got to be in a small group (25) with him in Miami—hosted by Leadership Network. Four things stand out:

    1) When we had a Q & A session with him, we wanted to know about him, his life. He was hesitant to respond because his desire was for people to follow Jesus, not him. But we pressed. Q: “How do you live with the gap between the relative wealth of our lives and the poverty of many people of the world?” His answer was to give an example: whenever he ate, he ate everything on his plate (in recognition that many are literally starving). And he never got seconds (in recognition that there is “enough” in God’s good world).

    2) I had been asked to speak at the gathering (a devotional). Somehow, when I agreed months ahead, it hadn’t sunk in that Stott would be there when I spoke. He followed my words (which I’m sure weren’t memorable) with much affirmation—that went right to the bone.

    3) During one discussion, a confident pastor referred to people who affirm women in ministry as those who aren’t committed to scripture. Stott rebuked him ever-so-mildly, suggesting that he reframe it to talk about people who love Jesus just as much but who understand scripture differently.

    4) A friend of mine, Rubel Shelly, and I had an hour alone with him. We asked about infant baptism, scripture, mission, etc. His words were drenched with wisdom and kindness.

    I’m thankful for every word he wrote, for every message he gave, for the truth of his life, and for the brief moments I got to be near him.

    Comment by Mike Cope — July 30, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  8. I was deeply inspired and moved by his irenic conversation with David Edwards in their classic – Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal/Evangelical Dialogue. Both men modeled such deep respect for each other, never caricaturing the other’s position or questioning the other’s faith, engaging the best of each other’s views, while at the same time disagreeing passionately. Qualities so rarely seen in the current divides over our understanding of scripture (although often exhibited on this blog).

    Comment by Patrick Hare — July 30, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  9. Wow, Mike … envious and glad for you at the same time.

    Comment by Scot McKnight — July 30, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  10. I jotted down my experience of an encounter with John in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories many years ago. Hard to believe that such a short visit could make such an impact on my life.

    Comment by Steve McMillan — July 30, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  11. The Cross of Christ changed forever my understanding of God’s profound love God for me. When I first read it many years ago, I felt as though God had commissioned Stott to write it just for me so that I would come to appreciate the depth of my redemption. I thank God for this man’s powerful ministry of words.

    Comment by Paul D. Adams — July 30, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  12. We must be global Christians, with a global mission, because our God is a global God.” John Stott

    Comment by Susi — July 30, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  13. As a very young preacher I read Stott’s preaching book. I sent him a few questions and he wrote me back. After all these years I still have that letter. Since then I’ve tried to read everything he has written.

    Comment by Clay Knick — July 30, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

  14. After a glowing introduction at a Houston church, John Stott took the pulpit and said, “That’s the second best introduction I have ever had. The first was by a bishop in a Southern state, who concluded his introduction with the comment: ‘I’d crawl 500 miles on my knees to hear John Stott preach.’” We in his audience smiled. “The bishop then sat down on the front pew and promptly went to sleep,” Stott continued. The sound of chuckling filled the sanctuary. But Stott’s next line doubled us over with laughter. “I suppose,” Stott calmly explained,”that he was tired from his very long crawl.”

    Comment by Edward Fudge — July 30, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  15. I remember, as a student at Reformed Theological Seminary, John Stott speaking on our campus. He was gentle, humble, challenging, humble, gentle, bold, gentle humble… you get the picture. I’m sure the RTS of today would have quite a pickle on their hands to allow him on the campus as a theologian who affirmed women’s ordination and was an annihilationist. In fact, as groups like The Gospel Coalition laud him as a great evangelical leader, he would not be allowed to join their club and be labeled a heretic if he wasn’t named “John Stott”. He was filled with grace. He wrote books to show us Jesus and stay out of the way, not brand himself. He always reached for a third way that would unite, rather than an only way that would divide. John Stott… Roger Nicole…. these are the great losses of the past year, and we must pray that these kinds of leaders will be raised up again in their stead. Perhaps his passing will be a time for us to remember him well, and embrace again, a more charitable orthodoxy. I loved what one of the many blogs I read on his passing said: “And underlying it all was an irenic spirit. He was polite not because he was an Englishman, but because the grace of Christ required it.” Indeed.

    Comment by Fred Harrell — July 30, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

  16. Thank you for these comments and the opportunity to add one.
    Stott’s teaching and books have been a great help to me.
    One of the best obits I read was this one in The Independent (UK paper)

    Comment by Andrew Butler — July 31, 2011 @ 2:24 am

  17. Posted this story earlier… but thought it appropriate here.

    Was privileged to hear John Stott preach in the 90s. It was a traditional church with a balcony (where we sat) and a pulpit raised high above the stage. As Stott made his way up the windy narrow stairs to the pulpit, everyone waited in silence.

    What I remember is a humble, yet confident, strength. A dry sense of humor. And most of all, Stott continually focusing us on the text and what it revealed about God and us… nothing ‘flashy,’ but powerful and to the point!

    As a young youth minister, his writings and commentary were some of the first I would often turn to.

    He’ll be missed for sure!

    Comment by MattR — July 31, 2011 @ 10:19 am

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