August 1, 2011
John Stott and IVP
Sometimes a publishing house can become so closely associated with a single author that both come to mind when either is mentioned. With the passing of John Stott on July 27, 2011, I can't help but reflect on how true this is for IVP.
Starting in the 1950s, IVP published more than fifty books with Stott that have sold in aggregate over six million copies. John Stott and InterVarsity Press were very closely linked in the sixties and seventies, but also long after that. Linda Doll and I reflected on this in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength.
While new U.S. authors highlighted IVP’s bestseller list in the seventies, it was a decade when IVP’s British heritage bloomed as well. Mark Noll writes, “The thinking of what might be called middle-brow American evangelicals, who are by habit and sometimes conviction systematically unecclesiastical, has been decisively influenced in the period since World War II by at least three English churchmen—C. S. Lewis and John R. W. Stott as well as [J. I.] Packer.” IVP was clearly marching a path in the seventies as the primary publishing conduit in North America for two of these three key figures, selling more copies of books by Stott and more by Packer than were sold by all other U.S. publishers combined. . . .
It was also in the seventies that Stott’s influence in the United States reached new heights. In 1974 he chaired the drafting committee of The Lausanne Covenant, one of the most significant documents on evangelical doctrine and mission produced in the twentieth century. Stott spoke at all four Urbana conventions in the seventies, and his sales of IVP’s edition of Basic Christianity (twenty years after its first release) reached all-time highs in the United States. Even twenty years later Mark Noll would write, “I consider John Stott the sanest, clearest and most solidly biblical living writer on theological topics in the English language.”
As I wrote earlier, Stott has been a model of both Christian civility and conviction that all of us would do well to emulate in this era of extreme viewpoints and harsh rhetoric. If IVP is to be associated with one author more than any other, it is hard to imagine anyone better than John Stott.