You may have already heard that the Rev. John R. W. Stott died today at the age of 90. Stott was the long-time Rector of All Souls Langham Place in London, the author of dozens of influential books, and the architect of a thoughtful and balanced evangelicalism resolutely committed to world mission. He was also a very recent alumnus of Nashotah House, having been granted a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, in absentia at our May 26 Commencement.
Stott was the most influential Anglican of his generation, if not within Anglicanism, without question outside of it. And, though from the vantage point of Nashotah’s heritage, he was a “low” churchman, he was a churchman, and he opposed the separatist impulses so characteristic of evangelicalism and sought to influence the Church of England from within, at some dear personal cost. Above all, he quietly guided and nurtured countless Christians into a robust faith in Christ. For a celebration of his life and work, you might enjoy reading this or this.
If I might be permitted a personal word: I was an 18-year-old undergraduate when I first heard John Stott preach at the Urbana Missions Conference in 1979 — Romans, as it turned out; I still remember it. His seriousness of thought and depth of conviction captivated me, and I went home and over the next six months devoured the first half-dozen of what would be several dozen of his books. He became a mentor in print, and I, with his help, was being made into a more thoughtful and serious Christian. It is fitting that I would learn the news today from my 19-year-old daughter, who had already read numerous books by “Uncle John.” He mentors yet another generation. The news of his passing today reminds me that I owe him more than I could ever repay.