John Stott passed away this morning after decades as one of the most influential voices in evangelical Christianity. As a writer, pastor, teacher, thinker, and leader, Stott impacted countless Christians, shaping an entire movement along the way.
My first experience with John Stott came from reading The Cross of Christ in seminary. Since that time, I’ve read several other books/articles and listened to a few sermons/lectures. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to hear him speak in person. But, throughout, his emphasis on the centrality of Jesus Christ and his atoning life, death, and resurrection had the greatest impact on me. Here is just one of many poignant sections from The Cross of Christ.
I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as “God on the cross.” In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering. ”The cross of Christ . . . is God’s only self-justification in such a world” as ours. . . . “The other gods were strong; but thou wast weak; they rode, but thou didst stumble to a throne; But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, And not a god has wounds, but thou alone. ~John Stott, The Cross of Christ, pp. 326-27.
I’m sure more information about his passing with be forthcoming soon. Until then, you should also read Tim Challies’ collection of tributes to John Stott from Twitter and Allen Yeh’s reflection on Stott’s influence through the Lausanne Covenant.
As Allen concluded in his piece: “The world has lost a man of faith, integrity, vision, resilience, and a rare combination of ecumenical spirit and Evangelical fidelity. Uncle John, we miss you. I’m sure God is saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.'”