Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Stott: Called home

John Robert Walmsley Stott
27 April 1921 – 27 July 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

For all of us who were together in Cape Town for the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, we will remember the moving tributes given to the two giants of The Lausanne Movement, Billy Graham and John Stott. They were personal friends who loved and admired one another, and they were the defining figures of global evangelicalism for the last sixty years.

Today (27 July 2011) “Uncle John” went home to be with the Lord. (Read more) He is now with the One who he served all his life and in whom he had total confidence.

John Stott impacted the church around the world in many ways. Perhaps his greatest contribution was to articulate clearly and to defend robustly the evangelical faith which he always understood to be biblical faith, grounded in the New Testament. Evangelicalism was to Stott an expression of historic, orthodox Christianity.

The Cross of Christ was central to the message. Stott preached the Cross as the sole means by which men and women could be made right with God.

The resurrection of Christ was the great hope of his life, as it is for all mankind, and the hope for life beyond death. This is the great reality he is now experiencing as the reward and vindication for all he preached and for which he lived during the many years of his ministry in London and around the world.

Perhaps more than any other person in the last century, John Stott restored confidence in the authority of God’s Word and in the centrality of biblical preaching and teaching. He inspired many evangelicals around the world to make a robust and clear affirmation of biblical truth while at the same time emphasizing that this must be backed up with a distinctive, godly Christian life.

He was able to hold together, in constructive biblical tension, a passionate commitment to evangelism along with a profound commitment to ministering to the needs of people in the context of suffering and brokenness. This is best expressed in The Lausanne Covenant, of which he is the chief author, and which is seen as the defining evangelical document of the 20th Century.

Everywhere John Stott traveled to teach, he encouraged “double listening.” This was a listening to the voice of the Spirit of God through his Word, and listening to the voice and the needs of our broken world.

Stott was known for his love for the Majority World and for students. He gave himself tirelessly to assisting and encouraging pastors and students in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the South Pacific and the Middle East. He leaves friends everywhere.

Of course, his friends and his hosts knew that he would also always want to take advantage of bird watching whenever the opportunity presented itself!

The church in the UK and around the world is richer for his great life. His simple lifestyle, his powerful preaching with its precision of thought and expression, his books written with such depth and clarity, have touched thousands and thousands of people around the world.

We are saddened by his departure, but strengthened with the knowledge that his great confidence and his lifelong hope in Christ has now been made real to him, and his life’s work has been vindicated.

Daniel 12:3: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

We were blessed to be impacted by a man we loved so much.

Let us seek to honor Christ, and also to honor John Stott, through a life that is lived for the glory of God and for the good of the church and the world.

Sincerely in Christ,

S. Douglas Birdsall
Executive Chair, The Lausanne Movement

Lindsay Brown
International Director, The Lausanne Movement

PS from Doug: In my last conversation with John Stott a few weeks ago, we were talking about The Cape Town Commitment. When I called Uncle John, one of his long time friends, Philip, was there reading the Commitment to him, line by line so that he could take it all in. During the course of our conversation, he said to me in a weak but clear voice, "Chris (Wright) did a masterful job in writing this with his team. And, you seem to have achieved an astonishing degree of unity with this new Lausanne document."

That was a joy to him. His desire was that The Cape Town Commitment would be made available together with The Lausanne Covenant and The Manila Manifesto. We can also honor his life by redoubling our commitment to the unity and integrity of the church and to the evangelization of the world, as expressed by these three great documents.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Let the people march

I like what Steve Oh wrote in Malaysiakini:

The July 9 Bersih march is an event worthy of support.

It is a march of the people, for the people and by the people.

Everyone who believes in the integrity of the democracy in the country should take part in such an event because it strikes at the heart of their nation and its integrity.

What is there to fear from an event that seeks to uphold the integrity of the electoral process?

It is not a political ceramah. It is not a political event.

It is a civic happening for the benefit of the nation.

What bad can come from it except from those who are bent on causing trouble, those who have much to fear and lose from seeing open, fair and trustworthy elections?

The police, among the best in the world, for controlling large crowds, should be able to control a peaceful march and take it in their stride.

In fact, the police are also voters and citizens and should have a stake in the integrity of their nation's electoral process.

Malaysia is fortunate to have citizens who will get out of their comfort zone to participate in the process of ensuring their country has an electoral system that will be second to none anywhere else in the world.

In fact rather than putting a wet blanket over the march, the government should be encouraging it as strong proof that it appreciates the rakyat's contribution to the country's public life and in trying to make the country better and it has nothing to fear from an improved electoral process.

Every political party should be sending representatives and ensuring that open, fair and trustworthy elections are guaranteed.
No electoral system is foolproof or without flaws and every attempt at ensuring there are improvements should be welcomed not opposed.

What has anyone to fear from the people asking that the voting process is open, fair and trustworthy?

It does strike every integrity-loving citizen and even any outside observer as odd that anyone who believes in a 'clean, efficient and trustworthy' administration should be opposing the people's contribution in enhancing it.

Why are those people opposing what is fundamentally good, and what will be good for the people and the country?

The stark incongruity in what is promoted and what is practised does create a problem of credibility for the government which may not want to open itself to the criticisms of hypocrisy, or worse, duplicity, if it is seen as afraid of calls for fair elections.

But it has much to gain in walking alongside the people on July 9.

Ultimately the electoral commission still has to ensure the system meets high standards of integrity because a march itself does not achieve that and no government can claim to have a mandate when gerrymandering and other voting irregularities exist to make a mockery of democracy.

No one who upholds the highest standards of public accountability, transparency and integrity ought to fear such an event except those who may have something to hide or will fear that if elections are open, fair and trustworthy, they may have to suffer the consequences.

It is pointless to paint the event as anything but the passion of the rakyat to elevate their country to a higher level of public accountability and integrity of the system that decides who gets the mandate to govern.

This is year 2010 not 1969.

There is no way and nowhere to hide the truth without it surfacing in the most uncanny manner sooner or later.
Many Malaysians are already marching in their hearts behind the integrity that is necessary for their survival. Nothing will not stop them from believing that open, fair, and trustworthy elections are in their and their country's national interest.

Malaysians march on their national day, they march in religious processions, there are long processions during the funerals of the famous and wealthy, and every day there are hundreds of marches and processions occuring throughout the world involving millions of people without any untoward incident.

A peaceful procession is a legitimate form of expression, a freedom and lawful activity guaranteed by the Constitution and we have seen the most vociferous crowds hold opposing rallies in countries
where the rule of law is properly upheld, the people's freedoms upheld and the police do their job of upholding law and order without fear or favour.

Let the people march and let them do good for their country - it is their country.