Remembering John Stott, Queen's chaplain and evangelical powerhouse
Online events to celebrate 100 years since Stott’s birth.
One hundred years ago today, a modest man was born who went on to strongly support the Queen’s faith and helped empower evangelical Christianity globally.
John Stott was born on April 27, 1921. He was made Queen’s chaplain in 1959, and the British believer also became a bestselling Christian theologian of more than 50 books.
In 2005, Stott was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Stott died in 2011, having established many ongoing international organisations including Langham Partnership, which supports “churches in the Majority World [to be] equipped for mission and growing to maturity in Christ”.
“Stott’s vision of a renewed evangelical identity, alert to the most pressing issues of our times – justice, human rights and human dignity, the environment and the arms trade – was always rooted in a clear-eyed and generous fidelity to the unique gift of God in Jesus Christ,” said former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
Celebration events online for Stott have been shaped to encourage Christians to make a difference where they are – whether on a small scale, or in response to global issues such as climate change or the COVID pandemic.
“John Stott’s radical vision remains as relevant as it ever was,” according to Paul Woolley, CEO of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC) that Stott founded.
“His perspective was simple but deeply powerful: that the Christian faith should lead us to seek the good of others, for the glory of God, in every part of life.”
Celibate throughout his own life, Stott lived in a two bedroom flat above the garage behind the rectory of All Souls, the inner London church where he ministered for 50 years (after growing up in its pews).
As Stott’s influence grew around the world after World War II – including launching the Lausanne Movement with Billy Graham in 1974 – his approach to living out Christian faith according to the authority of God’s word also informed biblical teaching.
“It is to John Stott I owe what ability I have to expound the Bible.” – John Chapman
As related by David Cook, the former principal of Sydney Missionary and Bible College, Stott’s visit to Sydney in 1965 impacted at least one person – someone who went on to be known as “Sydney’s leading evangelist for more than 50 years“.
Stott preached on 2 Corinthians at the CMS Summer School event, and his style of expository preaching – focusing on the words, grammar, content and context of a biblical passage to derive meaning – changed John “Chappo” Chapman.
“I heard only one of [Stott’s] Bible studies but I was so taken by the way he stuck to the text and stayed with it,” said Chapman, according to Cook.
“He could show you the logic of the argument in the Scriptures. Prior to that, I had tended to get an idea from the passage and to leap all over the Bible supporting the idea from other parts, so that the people I taught knew the ‘idea’ but not the passage from which it came– or how that passage fitted into some overall argument from the Scriptures.
“It is to John Stott I owe what ability I have to expound the Bible.”
As is often the case with Christian leaders of such clout and prominence, Stott’s views did not always align with others. In 1966, he politely pushed back against a public call that Welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones seemed to be making for evangelical Christians to abandon denominations and form a new unified group. Stott also stirred speculation about his view on the traditional doctrine of hell and whether he held to the “annihilationist” position – that those who reject God will at some point cease to exist, and not be punished eternally.
Stott was once asked in an interview what was his remaining ambition, given his impressive resume of academic, church and regal positions.
“To be more like Jesus,” Stott answered.