Born into a privileged home of a London doctor in 1921, John Stott was not destined to be a pastor or theologian. His father had served in the British Army and had different ambitions for his son. However, Stott was ordained into the ministry in 1945. The church where he would first serve would be the church he would serve for the remainder of his career. Albeit in a different capacity. Stott came to All Souls Church as a curate and was installed as rector in 1950, a promotion that was not all too common. Throughout his ministry, Stott has opportunity to move up or move on, but he decided to stay at All Souls because he loved the people and work that was going on there. Although All Souls Church was Anglican, it was distinctly evangelical. This was is what Stott loved about the congregation.
For many evangelicals in England in the mid-twentieth century, such as Martin Loyd-Jones, it was important o break away from the Church of England. Stott, however, chose to stay inside the church in an effort to seek reform from within. The primary way he sought change within the church was through a commitment to a high view of Scripture. He saw the Bible as the sole authority in the church and was committed to expository text-led preaching throughout his ministry. Another way he sought change was through evangelism and missions. Stott worked throughout his ministry to mobilize church members to seek the welfare of their community through evangelism and fulfill the Great Commission through world missions. His commitment to expository preaching, evangelism, and missions helped endear him to non-Anglican evangelicals throughout the world.
Even years after his death in 2011, John Stott is still relevant and his books are still influential among evangelicals. One reason why this may be, is that he was a Christian leader who sought the good of the global church, not just his own church or denomination. He was not in it for himself, but to point others to Christ. His desire was to help fellow believers see the Lordship of Christ in all aspects of their lives. Whether it be in work, politics, stewarding resources, or any number of means, Jesus is Lord of all and believers must live in that reality.
John Stott is probably best know for his book The Cross of Christ, which is considered by many, his magnum opus. Yet, his legacy consists far more than the popularity of one book. He was truly a theologian for the common man, because he always had a pastor’s heart. His teachings and writings were accessible to all believers, not just academia. Yet, even in that he saw the Christianity was not simply an emotional religion, but extremely rational. For Stott, Christians were called to live with a renewed and redeemed mind.
Stott on the Christian Life is an excellent overview of the theology and ministry of one of the twentieth century’s most important pastor theologians. The book serves as a great introduction to John Stott for those who are not familiar with him. It is also a wonderful resource for others who are more familiar with him, but want to learn more about his life and ministry. Tim Chester draws from Stott’s books, sermons, and other materials to provide a well rounded view of his teaching on the Christian life. It is a great jumping off point for those who want to “study under” Stott through his writings and sermons. The ministry of John Stott reminds us of the importance of the church’s mission in the world, the shining city on a hill.
Editor’s Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the book.