On November 15, 2012, I presented a paper at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society entitled “John Stott’s Influence Through Publishing.” I offer it here in five installments. The first installment can be found here.
Were there any limits on Stott’s influence? At least three can be mentioned.
First was his Anglicanism (and its associations with both mainline Protestantism and Catholicism) which made him suspicious in the eyes of some evangelicals.
Second were his views on annhilationism. While he held this view based on his careful study of Scripture, not on the basis of some wish to make hell less harsh, he also said he did not hold this view dogmatically. And while annhilationism for decades has been a very acceptable minority position within British evangelicalism, it raised questions in the minds of North American evangelicals as to whether Stott was sufficiently orthodox (especially with those who confused annhilationism with universalism, the latter of which Stott said did not support).
Third was his unwillingness to be a Christian “personality.” Stott was very reluctant to speak of his own experiences of any kind, whether spiritual or otherwise. Some of course saw this as a strength which actually enhanced his influence. But it did limit his notoriety in mass evangelicalism, such that he never became as well-known as Billy Graham.
Beyond the five influences I have mentioned, I have not had time to explore others such as Stott’s emphasis on expositional preaching, whose most obvious publishing manifestation is The Bible Speaks Today Series. The five I have focused on have certainly influenced the ongoing work in North America of the evangelical church, of the Christian academy, of InterVarsity Press and, least in the list, of me.