He was one of the most important evangelical leaders of last century. John Stott passed away yesterday at age 90. I will remember him mostly as the guy behind the Lausanne Covenant – his story and influence was all over the Lausanne Congress I attended last year in Capetown – but I will also remember him as I first saw him: the guy in the ugly blue sportscoat who spoke to us at Fuller School of World Mission.
And when I say UGLY blue sportscoat, I am talking about an putrid shade of blue that could only be conceived in 1970’s England. Not the blue in this photo. Oh no .. . a shade far paler and pukier – a kind of blue that is somewhere between James Bond in the wrong decade and Austin Powers without his mojo.
Sometimes I see that blue colour and I think of John Stott. Sorry Uncle John. But one bad fashion moment can have a lifetime effect. [Don’t worry – I have chosen a photo for this post with a blue that is far more acceptable.]
But more importantly, I will also remember what John Stott was talking about and why it surprised me. It was the mid-nineties and some crazy Canadians from Toronto at a Vineyard church near the airport were experiencing some really weird physical side effects during their protracted prayer meetings. They had just come down to USA for the first time and were holding a few meetings at John Mott auditorium in Pasadena, where I was living.
I expected John Stott, when he was asked what he thought about the “Toronto Blessing” to just dismiss it, or perhaps condemn it like most other evangelical leaders at the time. Instead, he said he was “suspending judgement”.
I decided to do the same. To suspend judgement until I knew some more. So I visited the meetings, met the leaders, chatted to the crazy Canadians and found myself in a better position to make judgement after that suspension.
I still find myself faced with complex issues that need a “suspended judgement” and that’s when I remember John Stott.
BBC said something similar:
‘ . . . it was his success in decoding the complexities of theology for lay people for which he will be best remembered. ‘
Oh . . and if you were wondering where my “judgement” landed in regards to the Toronto Blessing. Well, if I told you, you would probably LAUGH!