EFAC Australia recognises with great sadness the passing of John Stott, the driving force and inspiration behind the founding of EFAC in London in 1961- exactly 50 years ago.
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You might also like to go to the John Stott memorial site to read and even add to the tributes that have flowed in from around the world
John was renowned around the world as the author of more than 50 books including Basic Christianity (translated into 63 languages), the Cross of Christ, Issues Facing Christians Today, and commentaries on many books of the New Testament in the Bible Speaks Today series. He was one of the authors of the Lausanne Covenant and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2005.
The President of EFAC Australia, Archbishop Peter Jensen, has written the following about the influence of John Stott.
John R W Stott
There are a few, a very few, who deserve to be called a Prince among the people of God. John Stott was one such.
We all see other people partially. I am not therefore going to try to give a rounded picture of the man. I am only going to mention briefly the areas in which his impact was strongest in our part of the world. But the source and nature of that impact was at the very heart of his whole ministry. It had to do with his treatment of Scripture.
The thing for which we will mainly remember him was as one who expounded the Bible as God's word.
All preaching worthy of the name Christian starts from the Bible. The biblical preaching of my youth would start characteristically from a verse, sometimes taken out of context and used as a starting point for an extended Christian homily with exhortation.
Our first hand experience of John Stott was different. He took passages rather than texts and gave rigorous attention to the context and the meaning of the passage taken as a whole. And he spoke with such spiritual vibrancy that you could immediately tell that the biblical text was shaping and informing his faith and his walk with God. Here was a man with something to say, precisely because he took it from Scripture.
The effects were profound. Not only did people come to know Christ through his preaching and not only were people built up in Christ. He modeled a preaching style which others could use as well. He was not the great orator who can only be admired but never emulated. He was a servant of the word who showed what can be done by faithful attention to the text of Scripture. Obviously few had his intellectual and theological skills; nonetheless we could all aspire to use his model.
His ministry had a multiplier effect.
First and foremost, he helped you to revere and love the Bible. His expositional commitment underscored the sufficiency of Scripture. His expositional method underscored the clarity of Scripture. His expositional habit underscored the authority of Scripture. You were more inclined to say, what a great passage, than what a great preacher.
There were two features of this preaching which I remember in particular. The first is to do with its simplicity. It was not that he strove for popularity and delivered trivia. On the contrary, it was the simplicity of the master craftsman, who could analyse the text of Scripture and by carefully tracing the development of its thought, help his hearers to be better readers. We could see what he could see, and we could be inspired to believe that we too could read the Bible for ourselves.
The second feature was the basis of the first - he was a scholar. I don't mean that he had a PhD or taught in a university. He was beyond such measures. I mean that he had mastered the arts needed for biblical exposition and he gave the time and energy to make sure of his results. You can only achieve true simplicity by working very hard. That is what he did. Our debt to him, under God, flows from his willingness to give time, energy and thought to the study of Scripture in the light of modern thought and modern needs and to pastor us through his preaching.
In this, as in much else besides, he was a Prince amongst God's people.
Peter F Jensen
Archbishop of Sydney