I can’t think of two greater Evangelical giants today than John Stott and Billy Graham. This morning (July 27, 2011), one of the two—Stott—went to be with the Lord.
I cannot sum up adequately what he has meant to the Evangelical world, but what I can do is offer my little slice of perspective. I have been involved with the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization for almost a decade now, and John Stott was instrumental in that organization.
In 1974, Billy Graham convened the first-ever Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. Though he was the visionary for this Congress—possibly the greatest Evangelical gathering of missionary leaders in history up to that point in time—John Stott was the chief author of the Lausanne Covenant, the document which came out of that conference.
Have you ever wondered what it means to be an Evangelical Christian? The word ‘Evangelical’ is so nebulous that it has been used in all manners of caricature, even by Evangelicals ourselves. Well, a lot of people think that a good definition of “Evangelical” is if you can affirm the Lausanne Covenant. Countless churches and mission organizations use the Lausanne Covenant as their litmus test for Evangelical faithfulness and orthodoxy. Basically, if you agree with the Lausanne Covenant, you are an Evangelical.
I wrote about this in the first chapter of my recent book of which you can read the second chapter here. I was also in attendance at the recent 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa (October 2010), where 4000 Evangelical leaders from all around the world gathered to strategize and unify for the sake of God’s mission. (The 2nd Lausanne Congress was held in Manila, the Philippines, in 1989).
All of these things were inspired by John Stott and what he did during his fruitful life. I cannot begin to express how much Stott has influenced me and the Evangelical world. During the twentieth century, Evangelicals lost the drive to social justice, even though our Evangelical forbears like John Wesley, Charles Finney, and William Wilberforce, all clearly helped the poor and oppressed as part of their Evangelical convictions. Stott brought an Evangelical reawakening to social justice which is now seen in people like Gary Haugen, Ron Sider, Jim Wallis, Os Guinness, and Dallas Willard, with his famous statement: “social activity not only follows evangelism as its consequence and aim, and precedes it as its bridge, but also accompanies it as its partner. They are like the two blades of a pair of scissors or the two wings of a bird. This partnership is clearly seen in the public ministry of Jesus, who not only preached the gospel but fed the hungry and healed the sick.” (from the Lausanne Occasional Paper #21, “Evangelism and Social Justice: An Evangelical Commitment”)
I remember when I was doing my doctorate in Oxford, I would go down to London often to All Souls Church to hear John Stott preach. I loved his sermons which were gentle but so full of conviction. Also, he was celibate and single in an age where often marriage is made an idol. He did the hard thing and served his God faithfully.
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.”
Copyright 2011 Scriptorium Daily. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Allen Yeh is a missiologist who specializes in Latin America and China. He also has other academic interests in history, homiletics, and the life & thought of Jonathan Edwards (America's greatest theologian). He earned his B.A. from Yale, M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell, M.Th. from Edinburgh, and D.Phil. from Oxford. Despite this alphabet soup, he believes that experience is the greatest teacher of all (besides the Bible). As such, Allen has been to 50 countries on all six continents, to study, do missions work, and experience the culture.