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John R. W. Stott, at the age of 90, went home to be with the Lord earlier today (3:15 PM London time, 9:15 AM CST).

Ten years ago Timothy Dudley-Smith, his longtime associate at All Souls Church, Langham Place, wrote the following about the essence of the man:

To those who know and meet him, respect and affection go hand in hand. The world-figure is lost in personal friendship, disarming interest, unfeigned humility--and a dash of mischievous humour and charm. By contrast, he thinks of himself, as all Christians should but few of us achieve, as simply a beloved child of a heavenly Father; an unworthy servant of his friend and master, Jesus Christ; a sinner saved by grace to the glory and praise of God. ("Who Is John Stott?" All Souls Broadsheet [London], April/May 2001)

Stott was confirmed in the Anglican Church in 1936, but was not converted until February 13, 1938, when he heard Rev. Eric Nash deliver an address to the Christian Union at Rugby School. Stott recalls:

His text was Pilate's question: "What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?" That I needed to do anything with Jesus was an entirely novel idea to me, for I had imagined that somehow he had done whatever needed to be done, and that my part was only to acquiesce. This Mr Nash, however, was quietly but powerfully insisting that everybody had to do something about Jesus, and that nobody could remain neutral. Either we copy Pilate and weakly reject him, or we accept him personally and follow him.

After the address Stott was able to talk to Nash (who would become a mentor), who pointed Stott to Revelation 3:20. Nash asked him, “Have we ever opened our door to Christ? Have we ever invited him in?”

Stott later recalled:

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.

Later that night, at his bedside, Stott

made the experiment of faith, and "opened the door" to Christ. I saw no flash of lightning . . . in fact I had no emotional experience at all. I just crept into bed and went to sleep. For weeks afterwards, even months, I was unsure what had happened to me. But gradually I grew, as the diary I was writing at the time makes clear, into a clearer understanding and a firmer assurance of the salvation and lordship of Jesus Christ.

Stott went on to study at Trinity College, then Ridley Hall Theological College, at the University of Cambridge.

He was ordained in 1945, and became a curate at All Souls from 1945-50. He then served as rector at All Souls from 1950-75, becoming Rector Emeritus in 1975.

He also served as chaplain to the Queen from 1959 to 1991. In 1974 he founded Langham Partnership International and was one of the principal author of the Lausanne Covenant that same year.

He retired from public ministry in April of 2007 and had been living in a retirement community for Anglican clergy.

He never married and remained celibate his entire life, considering celibacy a vocation.

Here is a brief recap and memorial video published by Langham Partnership:

John Stott penned dozens of influential books and commentaries, the bestselling one being Basic Christianity, which was written in 1958 when Stott was 37 years old and has sold over 2.5 million copies.

His outstanding book on preaching, Between Two Worlds, was published in 1982.

His most substantial book is probably The Cross of Christ (1986), about which J. I. Packer says, “No other treatment of this supreme subject says so much so truly and so well.”

His  final published words came at the end of his last book, The Radical Disciple, published in 2010:

As I lay down my pen for the last time (literally, since I confess I am not computerized) at the age of eighty-eight, I venture to send this valedictory message to my readers. I am grateful for your encouragement, for many of you have written to me. Looking ahead, none of us of course knows what the future of printing and publishing may be. But I myself am confident that the future of books is assured and that, though they will be complemented, they will never be altogether replaced. For there is something unique about books. Our favorite books become very precious to us and we even develop with them an almost living and affectionate relationship. Is it an altogether fanciful fact that we handle, stroke and even smell them as tokens of our esteem and affection? I am not referring only to an author's feeling for what he has written, but to all readers and their library. I have made it a rule not to quote from any book unless I have first handled it. So let me urge you to keep reading, and encourage your relatives and friends to do the same. For this is a much neglected means of grace. . . . Once again, farewell! (pp. 136-137)

Much more will be written in the days ahead about this servant of the Lord. (The first obituary has been penned by Tim Stafford at Christianity Today.) But no words of commendation will be as significant as the words John Stott heard earlier today: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”

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45 thoughts on “John R. W. Stott (1921-2011)”

  1. Q. Hood says:

    Thank God for the life and ministry of John R.W. Stott. May he Rest in Peace!!

  2. Denny says:

    “But no words of commendation will be as significant as the words John Stott heard earlier today: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.””

    Amen and amen!

  3. Mike Johnson says:

    You didn’t mention his other highly influential work, “Between Two Worlds; The Challenge of Preaching Today.” It’s a great book written by a great man. It has a really catchy title too.

    Thanking the Lord for the life of John Stott.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Mike, I had thought about it, but I reasoned that I couldn’t mention all of his books. But you’re right—this one deserves to be highlighted. I’ve adjusted the post. It was looking at this book on my shelf that caused me to steal the title for the name of this blog.

      1. Mark says:

        We could probably mention all of his books, but Christian Mission in the Modern World is more relevant than ever and his commentary on Romans is wonderful, being both scholarly and accessible.

        1. JRJ says:

          right on, Mark. I read Christian Mission four years ago (while overseas) and it’s served me well in keeping me here…

  4. Ivan Lambert says:

    John Stott has been a man whom God has used to exalt Jesus in my mind / heart.
    Stott’s Basic Christianity was a small book with a big Jesus!
    His Cross of Christ is one I turn to from time to time, to be reminded of our Savior dying for bad people like me.
    I recall with fond memories reading to my boys when they were such little guys, Stott’s The Birds our Teachers, learning of God’s wisdom in creating and designing birds for his creation.

    The Lord has given us John Stott and the Lord has taken away John Stott. Praise the name of the Lord!

  5. Mark says:

    What a man. A great example for us all. Read everything you can find by him. He is a true hero of the Christian faith.

  6. RFB says:

    A man you ran the race well. Grateful for his work, grateful that he is in the presence of the Lord and Savior

  7. Evan C. Hock says:

    Among his NT commentaries, Acts and Ephesians, are particuarly helpful to the preacher. Of course, his Romans is well-thought of also. His concept of church ministry, as in Ephesians 4, is less hierarchial and more egalitarian than some would like, at least in a few Presbyterian circles, i.e. each member a “minister.” Yet he nevertheless argues defensible positions from the text, rather than from antiquity. He had a deep respect for unleashing the laymen, with a healthy restraint towards a creeping clericalism.

  8. Anthony says:

    It was with a mixed of sadness and gratefulness that I read about Uncle John’s passing today. He was without doubt a great and humble man and servant of the Lord. I can still vividly remember being warmly embraced with both arms by Uncle John as I made my way out of All Souls after the service on one Sunday morning in 1989 – he did not know me, as I was new to All Souls and to London, but he made me felt loved by him, by the church, and by Christ. More than that, as a young Christian then, I learned from him for the first time about the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ and the fullness of God for us when he preached on Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, and indeed for all Christians, in Eph 3:14-21 on the final Sunday of 1989. So, I can but be sadden by his passing, and yet so very grateful to our Lord for Uncle John’s life at the very same time. And I can but continue to look forward earnestly to the day when I will meet with our Lord and Saviour, and with Uncle John again. Hence I sing and pray again today – Come, Lord Jesus! Come!

  9. Ron Harvey says:

    I was a student at Capernwray Bible School in Carnforth, England from 1969-70. In that year I had the privilege of hearing Martyn Lloyd-Jones, F.F. Bruce, and John Stott(separately). All three lectured every day for a week. I later went to Manchester and University of Manchester and sat in Dr. Bruce’s Exegesis class and heard him lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Epic.

  10. Ephraim Chaim says:

    Sad to see the passing of John Stott, but also troubling. His view on Hell paved the way for Rob Bell’s book earlier this year; it also carries with it the anathema originally proscribed against Origen. Not sure how to square these two, and not sure that we should shy away from trying to think this one out.

    1. TLin says:

      You must judge, then judge him by his life. John Stott dedicated his life to worldwide evangelism.

  11. Rev chandra sekhar swain says:

    Sad to hear passing John Stott. Man of God contributed and invested his skills and talent to world and people of God in world will be benefited remembering his contribution.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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