John Stott – The Early Years by Timothy Dudley Smith

I am almost certain that I have sat next to Timothy Dudley-Smith for dinner. I am certain because when I was at Oak Hill Theological College I sat next to an Oak Hill Trustee who was a hymn writer – and Timothy Dudley-Smith was a trustee of Oak Hill!

 

That has no bearing on this biography, other than the fact he is both a close friend of John Stott and the author. John Stott is, and wil be remembered as one of the most important figures in Anglican Evangelicalism of the 20th century. It’s fitting then that this first volumne of John Stott runs to some 400 pages. It tackles the early years – his childhood, school days and early ministry. Stott was well eductaed – Rugby school and then Cambridge. But his conversion and subsequent sense of the call into ordained ministry not only challenged his relationship with his father but also, for a while, placed his integrity under scrunity. Stott felt a call to the priesthood in the middle of the Second World War and both his father and mother questioned whether Stott, a healthy young man should be pursuing the priesthood – surely he should be signing up to fight. In those days, a priest was not expected to be drafted.

 

But ordained he was and he went to All Souls Langham place – a place he was going to spend his entire ministry. The sudden death of his rector thrust a very young priest (29 years old) into the role of Rector of a large London Church.

 

The book is well written and informative, if not a little too obsessed with Stotts early camp days. Other than that this was a great read.

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