Although John Stott was confirmed into the Anglican Church in 1936 and took part in formal religious duties at school, he remained spiritually restless.
As a typical adolescent, I was aware of two things about myself, though doubtless I could not have articulated them in these terms then. First, if there was a God, I was estranged from him. I tried to find him, but he seemed to be enveloped in a fog I could not penetrate. Secondly, I was defeated. I knew the kind of person I was, and also the kind of person I longed to be. Between the ideal and the reality there was a great gulf fixed. I had high ideals but a weak will… [W]hat brought me to Christ was this sense of defeat and of estrangement, and the astonishing news that the historic Christ offered to meet the very needs of which I was conscious. (1)
On 13 February 1938, Eric Nash (widely known as ‘Bash’) came to give a talk to the Christian Union at Rugby School.
His text was Pilate’s question: “What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?” That I needed to do anything with Jesus was an entirely novel idea to me, for I had imagined that somehow he had done whatever needed to be done, and that my part was only to acquiesce. This Mr Nash, however, was quietly but powerfully insisting that everybody had to do something about Jesus, and that nobody could remain neutral. Either we copy Pilate and weakly reject him, or we accept him personally and follow him.
After talking privately with Nash and taking the rest of the day to think further,
that night at my bedside I made the experiment of faith, and “opened the door” to Christ. I saw no flash of lightning …in fact I had no emotional experience at all. I just crept into bed and went to sleep. For weeks afterwards, even months, I was unsure what had happened to me. But gradually I grew, as the diary I was writing at the time makes clear, into a clearer understanding and a firmer assurance of the salvation and lordship of Jesus Christ. (2)