Monday 25 July 2011

Alister Chapman on John Stott

Alister Chapman, Associate Professor of History at Wesmont, has a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press on John Stott. His faculty page indicates it is due some time in 2011, but I can find no sign of it so far on the OUP site.

Meanwhile, there is a short piece by him here on what he calls ‘the educated evangelicalism of John Stott’. Stott was popular in the United States, according to Chapman, because he was a ‘highly educated’ evangelical. While there was and still is a ‘populist strain’, Stott’s primary appeal was to ‘university-educated evangelicals who wanted something more intellectually robust than the fare on offer at their evangelical churches, people who wanted a faith that could stand tall in the modern, educated world’.

Those closest to the situation on the ground in the UK will be in a better position than I am to judge Chapman’s view that ‘things were not always so rosy back home’, and that (in spite of Stott’s attempts to engage with the working classes in the vicinity of his parish), ‘All Souls was primarily a church for the educated, who listened to Stott’s learned preaching, classical music and the Queen’s English with gladness’.

Chapman goes on to explore Stott’s university ministry (because ‘he believed it had great strategic importance for the spread of the gospel in society) and the establishment of his global reputation around the world.

Towards the close of his piece, Chapman draws inspiration from Stott for his own institution, that it might be ‘an educational institution that is also deeply evangelical’. Even though he admits he doesn’t know exactly what this would look like, ‘Stott’, he says, ‘should be a real help to us, for he was thoroughly evangelical, thoroughly educated, and unapologetic about both of these things’.

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