Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Arnold Stott's Healthy Journey

On our recent trip to Austin, Macon gave me a copy of Basic Christian - the Inside Story of John Stott, published by InterVarsity Press and written by Roger Steer. Part of this biography describes the fascinating and difficult relationship that developed between John Stott and his father, General Arnold Stott, during WWII. John's desire was to pursue theological studies during the war and his father's desire, equally fervent, was that John defer those studies and take his place in the Armed Forces to fight England's enemies, as most of John's peers were doing. It is a credit to both men that their relationship during this period, while very heavily strained, more than survived, because John pursued those studies, treating his father firmly but with the utmost respect, and his father, very grudgingly at times, continued to supply him with the financial means to do so.

John's single mindedness about God's call on his life, his discipline, and great gifts, resulted in John becoming,at the age of 29, Rector of All Soul's Church in London, not long after the war ended. At a reception after John's installation, Steer, the biographer, describes a scene between John's father and Eric Nash, the minister who brought John to Christ when John was a teenager and attended one of Nash's summer camps. (In a way, then, Nash was John's spiritual father.) Rev. Nash's nickname was Bash, and John's parents knew well who he was, particularly how deeply Bash had influenced John.

Bash found John's father standing [at the reception] smoking a cigarette and (as Bash later told John) 'looking very proud of you and yet out of his depth by turns'.

'Good evening, Sir Arnold,' said Bash cheerfully.

Arnold slowly turned his head towards the speaker. There was a long pause.

'Who are you?' Arnold growled.

'I'm Nash, John's friend. We met in 1940. Do you recall me?'

There was another long pause. 'Yes, I do. What are you doing?'

'Oh, youth work,' Bash replied. 'You must be a proud man tonight, Sir Arnold. Wasn't it to be the Foreign Office for John, in those pre-war days?'

Arnold looked sour, almost startled, and puffed his cigarette. 'I was never against this. I only wanted no hasty decisions.'

'You've hardly a grey hair,' said Bash. 'You wear very well.'

I'm thin,' replied Arnold solemnly. 'You see?' he concluded and managed a smile.

Lilly [John's mother] arrived, beaming all over her face. 'I must shake hands with dear Bash again!'

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