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28 July 2011

Tributes to former Alliance president Dr John Stott

Tributes to former Alliance president Dr John Stott

Tributes have poured in for one of the greatest evangelical thinkers of the past century - the Rev Dr John Stott, 90, who died yesterday.

The former president of the Evangelical Alliance, described by Time magazine as "one of the 100 most influential people on the planet today," also known as the "the pope of evangelicals worldwide" and "Uncle John", was mourned by among others, close friend and evangelist Billy Graham.

"The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen," he said, "and I have lost one of my close personal friends and advisors."

Speaking just after his death, Mark Meynell, senior associate minister at All Souls Church, Langham Place, where John Stott had attended since a child and led his ministry since 1945 said: "Today is a bitter-sweet day. Bitter because we have lost one of the 20th century Church's greats. A man of great conviction, ministerial gifting, intellectual clarity, personal integrity, profound compassion and humility…But it is surely a sweet day. His prayer in recent months has been to 'die well'. He has certainly done that. And in that hope we rejoice, and for his life we thank God."

Passionate commitment

In 2006, John Stott was awarded a CBE for services to Christian Scholarship and the Christian world. He was also Chaplain to the Queen from 1959 to 1991.

One of his most widely recognised contributions was the chairing of the International Congress on World Evangelization in 1974, that led to the Lausanne Covenant, seen as one of the most significant milestones for evangelicals in understanding links between evangelism and social responsibility.

Douglas Birdsall, from the Lausanne Movement, said: "He [had] a passionate commitment to evangelism [and] profound commitment to the needs of people in suffering and brokenness… [and this is] best expressed in The Lausanne Covenant, of which he is the chief author…seen as the defining evangelical document of the 20th century."

Producing over more than 50 books in 65 languages, his most famous were Basic Christianity (1958), Christ the Controversialist (1970) and The Cross of Christ (1986) with his most recent work The Radical Disciple published in 2010.

Dr Stott was credited with writing about theology for audiences who were less academic and widely recognised as providing a solid base for the evangelical movement after World War Two.

The BBC's religious affairs spokesman Robert Pigott said the theologian had an ability to communicate the complexities of theology for evangelicals and had a "particular gift and emphasis on evangelism and making that movement worldwide".

Dr John Stott was born in 1921 in London, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Of his conversion he said: "I had high ideals but a weak will. . . . [W]hat brought me to Christ was…the astonishing news that the historic Christ offered to meet the very needs of which I was conscious."

Together with writing theology for the masses, he received several academic accolades; a Lambeth doctorate in divinity in 1983 and honorary doctorates from schools in America, the UK and Canada. He was also president of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

John Stott Timeline

Alliance connections

With strong links to the Evangelical Alliance, John Stott was president from 1973 to 1974 and on the Executive Council from 1950-1972. He wrote on various subjects for the organisation including the publication Fundamentalism and Evangelism in 1956 at the height of the fundamentalism versus liberalism debate of the post-war years. 

Involved in many evangelical organisations, he was chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council for 17 years, primary author on the World Evangelical Alliance's constitution, president of Scripture Union for nine years and president of Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF) between 1961 and 1982.

He frequently led week-long evangelist meetings at universities in Australia, Asia, Africa, North America. One event drew 18,000 students.

The Archibishop of Canterbury paid tribute by saying: "Without ever compromising his firm evangelical faith, he showed himself willing to challenge some of the ways in which that faith had become conventional or inward-looking."

Dr Stott also had a great passion for evangelicalism becoming a worldwide movement and said: "We must be global Christians with a global mission, because our God is a global God."

He started the Langham Partnership that grew into five national and 10 regional non-denominational movements training leaders in the developing word in ministry. Stressing social responsibility for the world's poor, he was president of Tearfund for 14 years and patron to Mexican charity Armonia.

Many have been paying tribute to the renowned evangelist and theologian particularly on social media. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback church tweeted: "John Stott, one of my closest mentors, just died. I flew to the UK recently just to pray for him & sit by his bed. What a giant!"

Jonathan Wynne-Jones, religious correspondent of The Telegraph, posted: "Sorry to hear of John Stott's death. The Church has lost a man of rare integrity. If Anglicanism made people saints, he'd be first in line."

National broadcaster Jeremy Vine also tweeted: "For anyone who knew of Dr John Stott, he was a friend of mine and he died this afternoon. He was a very great Anglican theologian."

You can find out more about his ministry at the Langham Partnership 

For more, visit the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity