A word from John Stott  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,

Over the years I have grieved that most of the time when an “evangelical spokesperson” is quoted in the media, it is someone I do not want speaking for me. Some are famous simply for having large congregations, or for being an inspiring speaker. Some have gained attention through their popularity on religious media, addressing topics for which they have developed no true expertise over years of careful thought and disciplined service. Some are far more consistent as commentators for political ideologies like conservatism, or Christian Zionism than they are for biblical orthodoxy or a clear application of the gospel of grace to the things of life. (I appreciate the fact that some journalists understand my dilemma here; Read David Brooks' New York Times column, "Who is John Stott?" here.)

He is retired from public ministry now, after a lifetime of faithful service, but one person I have always tried to listen to with care is John Stott. His voice is marked by wisdom, shaped by the Scriptures, moderated by the long tradition of orthodox belief and practice in the church, and never in service of some political ideology. Listen to this from Rev Stott at the beginning of a new year, a new decade, and let it hone your prayers today:

Our blind spot
It is easy to criticize our Christian forebears for their blindness. It is much harder to discover our own. What will posterity see as the chief Christian blind spot of the last quarter of the twentieth century? I do not know. But I suspect it will have something to do with the economic oppression of the Third World and the readiness with which western Christians tolerate it, and even acquiesce in it. Only slowly is our Christian conscience being aroused to the gross economic inequalities between the countries of the North Atlantic and the southern world of Latin America, Africa and most parts of Asia. Total egalitarianism may not be a biblical ideal. But must we not roundly declare that luxury and extravagance are indefensible evils, while much of the world is undernourished and underprivileged? Many more Christians should gain the economic and political qualifications to join in the quest for justice in the world community. And meanwhile, the development of a less affluent lifestyle, in whatever terms we may define it, is surely an obligation that Scripture lays on us in compassionate solidarity with the poor. Of course we can resist these things and even use (misuse) the Bible to defend our resistance. The horror of the situation is that our affluent culture has drugged us; we no longer feel the pain of other people's deprivations. Yet the first step toward the recovery of our Christian integrity is to be aware that our culture blinds, deafens and dopes us. Then we shall begin to cry to God to open our eyes, unstop our ears and stab our dull consciences awake, until we see, hear and feel what through his Word he has been saying to us all the time. Then we shall take action.

[From Culture and the Bible by John Stott (Downers Grove: IVP, 1981), p. 36.]

Every morning an email, Langham Partnership Daily Thought, arrives in my inbox, a brief excerpt from the voluminous writings of John Stott. This one arrived this morning, January 6, 2010, and as usual, I was glad to read it. The emails are free, and you can subscribe here.

I recommend subscribing, but be warned: wisdom shaped by biblical orthodoxy is far more bracing than the vacuous sound bites produced by media pundits who serve one ideology or another.

This entry was posted at Wednesday, January 06, 2010 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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