John Stott, world leader in Christian evangelism, 1920−2011

"Uncle" John Stott was pastor to the evangelical world. Photo: John Yates
"Uncle" John Stott was pastor to the evangelical world. Photo: John Yates
By on August 2, 2011

The Rev. John Stott, one of the most influential Anglican clergymen of the 20th century, died of natural causes on July 27 at the age of 90.

Time magazine once described him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and historian Adrian Hastings, in A History of English Christianity, 1920−1985, called him “one of the most influential figures in the Christian world.”

American evangelist Billy Graham said, “The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen, and I have lost one of my close personal friends and advisors. I look forward to seeing him again when I go to heaven.”

Stott was born in London on April 27, 1921, the son of a physician who wanted his son to pursue a career as a diplomat. After reading modern languages and theology at Cambridge University, Stott refined his leadership skills at All Souls, Langham Place, and inspired young clergymen to take a modern approach to preaching. All Souls remained his only parish, and he served there from 1950 to 1975.

Stott wrote more than 50 books, the best known being Basic Christianity, which sold two million copies and was translated into 60 languages. He was appointed an honorary chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II in 1959, and was one of the principal authors of the influential Lausanne Covenant in 1974. [The covenant is considered the manifesto of worldwide Christian evangelism.]

He never married, but when he died in his London home, he was surrounded by family and friends, listening to Handel’s Messiah, his favourite piece of religious music.

[Note: For an overview of Stott’s ministry, which was noted for brilliantly clear explanations of scripture in lay terms, see Portraits of a Radical Disciple, edited by Christopher J.H. Wright (Intervarsity Press 2011).]

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