Known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, and communicator of Scripture, the late John R. W. Stott was once named among Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” His books have sold millions of copies and have inspired and transformed millions throughout the world. In commemoration of Stott’s one hundredth birthday in April 2021, InterVarsity Press (USA), IVP (UK), Eerdmans Publishing, Langham Partnership, and Faithlife are partnering to honor his ongoing legacy.
Together these organizations will be releasing commemorative editions of Stott’s books, highlighting articles and sermons and sharing tributes and reviews from thought leaders. These celebrations of his work will be highlighted at the forthcoming John Stott 100 website.
Jon Boyd, editorial director at IVP Academic (USA), said, “All the most interesting thinkers are bridge builders if not boundary breakers, and Stott built bridges of conversation and insight everywhere he turned his attention, whether across the institutional barriers of university and church or into the fields of biblical studies, theology, social criticism, and leadership. Although he wasn’t employed as a scholar (can one ever be?), Stott moved easily in academic circles—but perhaps more importantly helped others to do so. He boosted the ‘street cred’ of Christian thinking on both sides of the Atlantic and of the equator (just the kind of ambassador, I can’t help thinking, that we could benefit from these days once again). His deep legacy is not only in his books but in his many students and apprentices.”
InterVarsity Press will be releasing a centennial edition of Stott’s influential book The Cross of Christ on April 13, 2021. Anne Graham Lotz, author of Just Give Me Jesus, said, “Outside of the Bible itself, this may be the best book I’ve ever read on the cross of Christ. It is thorough, thoughtful, and timely. As I read it, my mind was challenged, my heart was warmed, my faith was strengthened, and my focus was sharpened on the cross. Praise God for just giving us Jesus with nail prints in his hands and feet!”
Stott’s influence on evangelicalism throughout the world is extensive. He has written over fifty books, including various Bible studies and Bible commentaries. For many years he served as rector of All Souls Church in London, where he carried out an effective urban pastoral ministry.
New York Times columnist David Brooks once wrote (quoting the late Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center) that if evangelicals chose a pope, they would likely select John Stott. As a principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant (1974), a defining statement for evangelical Christians, Stott was at the heart of evangelical renewal in the UK for more than half a century.
Andy Le Peau, who served as an editor at InterVarsity Press for more than forty years, said, “One aspect of John Stott’s multifaceted ministry that I deeply admire was his role as a Christian statesman—a decidedly vanishing breed. He never sought to divide believers, to win over people to the particulars of all his viewpoints. Rather he worked to unite Christians in the basic convictions of the faith. Stott did not emphasize the differences Christians have with one another but what we have in common. He never aimed to win so much as to be winsome. In this he was truly pastor to the world.”
Stott is best known for his many books, especially Basic Christianity (InterVarsity Press and Eerdmans), a clear statement of the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been translated into over sixty-three languages; The Cross of Christ (InterVarsity Press), which former InterVarsity Press publisher James F. Nyquist says “demonstrates the depth of Stott’s understanding and lifetime commitment”; Christian Mission in the Modern World (InterVarsity Press), in which Stott makes the case that Christian outreach must encompass both evangelism and social action; Your Mind Matters (InterVarsity Press), a forceful appeal for Christian discipleship that engages the intellect as well as the heart; The Preacher’s Portrait (Eerdmans), in which a biblically faithful portrayal of what preachers are supposed to be emerges from Stott’s reflections; and The Birds, Our Teachers (Baker and Hendrickson), a study on birds combined with biblical truths and personal anecdotes. InterVarsity Press published a biography of John Stott titled Basic Christian by Roger Steer. Stott was also the New Testament editor and a major contributor for the highly acclaimed Bible Speaks Today commentary series.
As Stott’s main publisher in the US, InterVarsity Press enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the man they called Uncle John.
“Some authors and books are inextricably linked to InterVarsity Press throughout its seven decades of history. Such is the case with John R. W. Stott and books like The Cross of Christ and Basic Christianity among many others,” said Jeff Crosby, IVP publisher. “In his slim but powerful volume Your Mind Matters, Stott wrote that ‘Knowledge is indispensable to Christian life and service. If we do not use the mind which God has given us, we condemn ourselves to spiritual superficiality.’ That characterizes the profound work of this man, whose birth one hundred years ago we are joining with other of his publishers in celebrating. Through his speaking, writing, and pastoral work at All Souls Church in London, Stott challenged us to deep thinking and Christlike service.”
Whether in the West or in the Majority World, a hallmark of Stott’s ministry has been expository preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. “From its earliest days one of the defining voices of InterVarsity Press has been John Stott. His ability to exposit Scripture in a compelling, biblically reliable, and relevant way is nearly unparalleled. During a college semester in London I had the opportunity to attend All Souls and was riveted by his hour-long sermons through key passages of Scripture,” said Cindy Bunch, associate publisher and director of editorial at IVP. “He was a balanced, centrist voice often creating a bridge between theological factions. In today’s context it is hard to find—or even imagine—a figure who can bring people together in the way Stott could. Finally, in using his royalties to fund Langham Trust, he built into leaders around the world both in his investments of travel and teaching and in providing books and theological education to equip pastors in the two-thirds world. I am grateful for his writing and for the example of his humble ministry.”
In 1969, Stott founded the Langham Trust to fund scholarships for young evangelical leaders from the Majority World. More than three hundred Langham Scholars from ninety countries have since received doctorates and returned to teaching and leadership roles in their home cultures. Stott then founded the Evangelical Literature Trust, which provided books for students, pastors, and theological libraries in the Majority World. These two trusts continued as independent charities until 2001, when they were joined as a single charity: The Langham Partnership. Langham’s vision continues today to see churches in the Majority World equipped for mission and growing to maturity in Christ through nurturing national movements for biblical preaching, fostering the creation and distribution of evangelical literature, and enhancing evangelical theological education through the support of biblical scholars.
“I would describe John Stott as both Abrahamic and apostolic,” said Chris Wright, whom John Stott invited to take over the leadership of Langham Partnership in 2001 and is now its global ambassador and ministry director. “He was Abrahamic both as a ‘blessing to the nations’ in his global friendships and influence and also in his insistence on the obedience of faith. The gospel has not been understood and truly received if it is not also being obeyed in radical whole-life discipleship and ethical transformation. And he was apostolic both in his lifelong commitment to evangelism—faithfully preaching and teaching the good news first proclaimed by the apostles—and also in his insistence on the need for rigorous biblical teaching so that churches would grow in depth and maturity and penetrating mission in the world, not just grow bigger in numbers alone. Langham shares these convictions and strives to multiply his legacy in serving the global church that he loved.”