John Stott announces his retirement

I thank Adrian Warnock for the news that John Stott is to retire at last, at the age of 86.

Adrian also clarifies Stott’s position on penal substitutionary atonement. I don’t think I can fully accept this position. But at least this confirmation that Stott’s view of PSA is clearly different from Chalke’s spares Stott from a danger of severe embarrassment: the invitation for his final speaking engagement at Keswick will not be withdrawn because he is perceived as taking a “soft” position on PSA.

I greatly appreciate Stott’s ministry, despite our relatively minor differences over PSA and also some different opinions on charismatic issues. It is now over 30 years since Stott’s book Christ the Controversialist (IVP, 1970) played a major part in bringing me from a rather vague Christianity to a committed evangelical faith. The book is still on my bookshelf.

Stott will be greatly missed. I wish him a long and happy retirement.

0 thoughts on “John Stott announces his retirement

  1. Thanks for the post…amazing that Stott has been in ministry for so long!

    Peter, could you clarify where you would disagree with Stott’s version of PSA? It looks fairly close to my “soft” model!

  2. Actually, answering my own question (!), I’m thinking that in this quote, as opposed to to a previous one which Adrian noted, Stott comes out with the “hard” model which, as I defined it, places emphasis on the punishment/condemnation of Jesus.

    So sometimes theologians shy away from using the hard model, whilst still holding to it!

  3. I believe D.A. Carson somewhere mentioned Stott’s The Cross of Christ as the best popular treatment of the atonement issue. So he would probably take a similar position if he thinks Stott’s book is that good.

  4. I think it is a real shame that Adrian has chosen to highlight John’s position on the atonement as the central feature of his post on his retirement. I agree that John does hold this position, but the entire character of his ministry has been to find points of agreement with others, not to score controversial points. I would define John by such emphases on the Lordship of Christ, the authority of scripture, the primacy of preaching, the need for mission to be holistic, the requirement to live a simple lifestlye, and so on. His view of the atonement is only one component of his ministry, and I think it was a cheap political shot to use John’s retirement announcement to score points in this way.

    A few years ago I had the opportunity to speak (on different occasions) to both Jim Packer and John Stott about John’s book ‘The Cross of Christ’. Packer said that he thought a weak point of the book was that Stott had said nothing about ‘limited atonement’. When I mentioned this to John, he smiled in his usual gracious way and said, “I did that on purpose!”

    I will remember that smile, and that graciousness, with affection and gratitude. Thank God for the ministry of this gifted and loving tracher of the scriptures.

  5. Jeremy, you may well be right about Carson’s position. But surely it is a logical fallacy to infer from someone saying that a book is a very good one that that person agrees with every position taken in that book. I’m sure there are philosophy books which you consider masterful without actually accepting all their conclusions. Why shouldn’t the same be true of Christian books? Well, I guess there is a certain fundamentalist tendency for people only to recommend books they entirely agree with and condemn as completely heretical those they have any disagreements with. But I don’t think Carson is part of that tendency.

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