John Stott died last summer: a man with huge influence and authority – the present healthy state of evangelicalism within the CofE is in no small part down to him – and someone of whom I was naturally suspicious, mainly due to the people who claimed him as their leader. Plus he really didn't get postmodernism.
But when you actually get to read the guy, he was clearly a brilliant, original and orthodox believer; the kind of person, in short, who is worth following. Chris Wright said, 'He was, for all of us who knew him, a walking embodiment of the simple beauty of Jesus, whom he loved above all else.'
Here are some examples of his thoughts:
'Christianity is not primarily a theological system, an ethical system, a ritual system, a social system or an ecclesiastical system – it is a person: it’s Jesus Christ, and to be a Christian is to know Him and to follow Him and believe Him.'
'To become Christian is in a real sense to become human… But to assert joyfully that salvation includes humanisation is not at all the same thing as saying that humanisation (rescuing men from the dehumanising process of modern society) equals salvation.'
'The debate about the rival merits of evangelism and social responsibility is never necessary. It expresses an unbiblical dualism between body and soul, this world and the next.'
'Every Church should be engaged in continuous self-reformation.'
'Before Christ sent the Church into the world he sent the Spirit into the Church. The same order must be observed today. Without the Spirit, the Word is a lifeless and dead letter.'
'What people want is an easy-going syncretism, a truce in inter-religious competition, a mishmash of the best from all religions. But we Christians cannot surrender either the finality or the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. There is simply nobody else like him; his incarnation, atonement and resurrection have no parallels. In consequence, he is the one and only mediator between God and the human race. This exclusive affirmation is strongly, even bitterly, resented. It is regarded by many as intolerably intolerant. Yet the claims of truth compel us to maintain it.'
'The devil hates the gospel and uses all his strength and cunning to obstruct its progress, now by perverting it in the mouths of those who preach it, now by frightening them into silence through persecution or ridicule, now by persuading them to advance beyond it into some fancy novelty, now by making them so busy with defending the gospel that they have no time to proclaim it.'
'We have the means to evangelise our country; but they are slumbering in the pews of our churches.'
'Listen to the world’s many discordant voices: the cries of the poor and oppressed, the questions of the bewildered, the sighs of the hurting… We are called to double listen. We listen to the Word of God to believe and obey it and we listen to the modern world to sensitively understand it.'