Godly Ambition: John Stott and the Evangelical Movement

Godly Ambition: John Stott and the Evangelical Movement

Godly Ambition: John Stott and the Evangelical Movement

Godly Ambition: John Stott and the Evangelical Movement

Synopsis

British Christian leader John Stott was one of the most influential figures of the evangelical movement during the second half of the twentieth century. Called the pope of evangelicalism by many, he helped to shape a global religious movement that grew rapidly during his career. He preached tothousands on six continents. Millions bought his books and listened to his sermons. In 2005, Time included him in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Alister Chapman chronicles Stott's rise to global Christian stardom. The story begins in England with an exploration of Stott's conversion and education, then his ministry to students, his work at All Souls Langham Place, London, and his attempts to increase evangelical influence in the Church of England. By the mid-1970s, Stott had an international presence, leading the evangelical Lausanne movement that attracted evangelicals from almost every country in the world. Chapman recounts how Stott challenged evangelicals' habitual conservatism and anti-intellectualism, showing his role in amovement that was as dysfunctional as it was dynamic. Godly Ambition is the first scholarly biography of Stott. Based on extensive examination of his personal papers, it is a critical yet sympathetic account of a gifted and determined man who did all he could to further God's kingdom and who became a Christian luminary in the process.

Excerpt

On April 18, 2005, Time magazine published its annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. Alongside predictable names such as George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates, three church leaders appeared. the first was the Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became pope the day after Time published its list. the second was Rick Warren, a popular author and pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California who later gave the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. the third was the English clergyman John Stott. the citation called him “a touchstone of authentic biblical scholarship that … has scarcely been paralleled since the days of the 16th century European Reformers” and said that his work had been “a significant factor in the explosive growth of Christianity in parts of the Third World.” However, most of the people who read Time that week would never have heard of him.

Six months earlier, the New York Times had published an article by David Brooks entitled “Who is John Stott?” Brooks, a regular columnist for the Times, was writing shortly after the re-election of George W. Bush to the White House, an election in which the influence of evangelical Christians had been discussed endlessly. Brooks suggested that the representatives of that tradition whom the media usually presented as normative, such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, were in fact caricatures. It would be much better, he went on, if more people knew about John Stott. Stott “believe[d] in evangelizing among non-believers,” was “pro-life and pro-death penalty,” and did not believe “that all faiths [were] independently valid,” yet he spoke with a voice that was “friendly, courteous and natural…. confident, joyful and optimistic.” He was the person whom “if evangelicals could elect a pope … they would likely choose,” and an “authentic representative” of evangelicalism in a way that Falwell and Robertson were not. Yet Brooks assumed that most of his readers had no idea who Stott was.

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