Tag Archives: E. Stanley Jones

colored people?


The next fleshcolorvery short anecdote  from the first half of the 20th century comes from E. Stanley Jones, who was a Christian missionary in India of whom you’ll find more interesting quotes on my blog if you use the ‘search’ function.:

“I am glad to introduce to you our coloured brother”
said an American chairman in introducing an Indian to an American audience,  to which the Indian replied when he arose,
“I am very glad to talk to you colourless people.”
(E. Stanley Jones)

Western people (I suppose in line with the ideologies of the Enlightenment) seem to think that they are neutral in some way, and that everyone who’s  different is the ‘other one’. But the skin color of ‘white’ people is as much colored as that of anyone else. We are not the norm..

(I can add that our cultural perspective is not neutral in any other way either. We are as neutral as the Piraha people or the ancient Greeks…. And neither will Western secularism or humanism ever be religiously neutral…)

peace

Bram

‘Saint’ Constantine the not-so-great vs the sermon on the mount… (E. Stanley Jones)


Regular readers of this blog will know how much I appreciate certain other Christian traditions. Traditions that I love deeply are quite incompatible streams in Church history like for example the Orthodox tradition, Franciscanism, certain strands of anabaptism and the quakers… I guess I do have my disagreements with every tradition (including my own tribe) as they do among each other too, but I believe that we need all of them (probably even those whom I do not like and don’t feel much affinity with, like fundamentalism and Calvinism) to complete the Church of Christ. And I am very likely to be wrong myself on some things too…

I like for example  the Orthodox for their connection with the early Church and the church fathers, which makes them the keepers of a lot of treasures that we modern Western Christians have lost long ago but are needing right now. But on the other hand I could never agree with some other things, like their veneration of someone like emperor Constantine the Great as a saint, and some of the nationalism going on in some Orthodox churches… Which is why I (as a postmodern generic charismatic and more-or-less Wesleyan evangelical) do think we need the Anabaptist testimony too…

The next piece from E.Stanley Jones in my opinion shows why we need to recover the emphasis on the enemy-love and the rest of the sermon on the mount, and it offers -very daringly- a critique to the emphasis of the ancient creeds. (I do not say that the next piece describes all of the fathers, I have read a lot from them that would qualify for good Lovers in the path of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.)

Suppose we had written it in our creeds and had repeated each time with conviction:

“I believe in the Sermon on the Mount and in its way of life, and I intend, God helping me, to embody it” !

What would have happened? I feel sure that if this had been our main emphasis, the history of Christendom would have been different. With emphasis on doctrines which left unaffected our way of life the Christian Church could accept Constantine as its prize convert. And yet Constantine, after his alleged conversion, murdered his conquered colleague and brother-in-law Licinius ; sentenced to death his eleven-year-old nephew, killed his eldest son, Crispus; brought about the death of his second wife; took the nails that were supposed to come from the cross of Christ and tised one in his war helmet and another on the bridle of his war horse. Yet he was canonized by the Greek Church and his memory celebrated “as equal to the apostles.” He talked and presided at the opening of the Council of Nicea, which was called to frame a creed, and he was hailed as “a .bishop of bishops.” Could this have happened if the men who had gathered there had made the Sermon on the Mount an essential part of the Creed? It had no place in it, so Constantine could be at home. What had happened was that the Christian Church had been conquered by a pagan warrior. And the church allowed itself to be thus conquered, for this ideal of Christ did not have possession of its soul.

E. Stanley Jones, the Christ of the Mount

As someone who borders on paleo-orthodoxy this is something I wrestle with, but I indeed do miss in the creeds the emphasis on Jesus as the Way, and on Christians as followers of the Way, which is Christ. And where do we find a better description of the Way of Christ than in the sermon on the mount?

And there is something highly disturbing about Constantine in a lot of ways…

So what do you think?

shalom

Bram

God fulfills the sermon on the mount? (E. Stanley Jones)


I wanted to share a piece of E. Stanley Jones (1884-1974), who was an important figure in Indian Christianity in the 20th century. I’m currently reading in e-version of ‘the Christ of the mount’,  a commentary on the sermon on the mount that is really interesting. I wanted to share this part, which coincidentally seems to fit perfectly with ‘virtue reborn’ by N.T. Wright in describing what Wright would call ‘Christian Character, but here he also turns it around, to apply it to God Himself. Which gives us quite the opposite of what some fundamentalists and new-reformed christians want us to believe, who have a godview that would make me an atheist! (And which looks more like the Capitol from the hunger games, as Sarah Moon points out here)

The reward of this kind of living which Jesus has been setting before us in the Sermon is in the quality of being : “Ye shall be sons of your Father,” or as Luke puts It “sons of the Most High.” Being willing to be the sons of the most low, you turn out to be sons of the Most High The reward is in the very make-up of your character.
It is not in being given a harp in heaven, but in winning a heart that has learned its song ;not in being allowed to walk on streets of fine gold, but in having the refined gold of character.
Your greatest reward will be that you will be like your Father. And that is heaven, whatever the future may bring. Every man will reflect himself in his environment, he will draw around Him in his environment qualities like his own. Any man that takes heaven with him is bound to have heaven. But the basis of that heaven and the degree of that heaven is character. As I have already said, in these twenty-seven marks of perfection there is not one that is irrelevant, and not one that will not be utterly necessary in the make-up of the perfect character for God and man. In the Father too ? Yes.
For these twenty-seven marks are in the Father himself:

He is surrendered in spirit in Christ he surrenders himself to the limitations, the trials, the buffetings and the cross of an earthly life; he mourns1 the cross is the symbol of that deep vicarious mourning ; he is the serving meek, if Jesus is the image of his person; he hungers and thirsts after righteousness not in himself, but in others, in his children the God of moral indifference has faded out and a God intensely ethical Is here. But in all Ms holiness he is the merciful toward imperfections in others; he is the pure in heart in him is no darkness at all ; the peacemaker an active intervener in love. He is persecuted and falsely spoken against, yet he rejoices and is exceedingly glad. He is the salt of the earth the silent power that keeps it from corruption and that pnts taste and worth and meaning into life. The light of the world take him out and the world turns to night. He keeps the least commandment that he lays on others. He is not indifferent to the painful struggle upward. He does not destroy it, he fulfills it. He is not angry with his children in the sense of revenge, but only in the sense of redemptive, moral indignation. He is quick to agree with his adversaries, going more than half way. He is above all impurity, even in thought. His word is simple and Yea, yea, and Nay, nay not subject to whimsicalities. He resists evil on the high level of turning the other cheek, going the second mile, and giving the cloak also. He gives to them that ask and from those that would borrow he turns not away. He loves Ms enemies and does good to them that despitefully use him. He sends the rain on the just and on the unjust, makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good.He loves them that do not love him and salutes those who pass him by he is the Perfect!
This kind of a God can have my heart. For as Jesus has been sketching for us the likeness of the Father I see in it his own likeness. God is Christlike; and if he is, then he is a good God and trustable.

The christ of the road, p 199-201

Shalom

Bram

Prayer for today (E. Stanley Jones)


Michael Frost posted this prayer by .E Stanley Jones today on facebook. I think it fits well with my posts about language being fallible, especially with the ones that aren’t finished yet probably… E. Stanley Jones has done very interesting things in India in the 20th century, so if you have the chance to read anything by him, do it! (I think ‘Christ of the Indian road is a recommendation, even if I’ve only I’ve read it in weird old-fashioned Dutch…. The English version is probably much more interesting…)

“O Christ,

I know that Thou art greater than all our descriptions of Thee.

When we have said all, then we stand in mute adoration

before the wonder of Thee – the Inexpressible.

But I see enough of Thee to love Thee

and to give my heart to Thee fully.

I do so, and I do so now.

I thank Thee. Amen.”

E. Stanley Jones

shalom

Bram