Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mission: E Stanley Jones

Am rereading E Stanley Jones, missionary to India, friend of Gandhi and I believe several times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. What a genius. Writing in the 1920s he anticipated, and answered, all the modern critiques of missions. And his book is soul food.

Are missionaries 'international meddlers, creed mongers to the East, feverish ecclesiastics compassing land and sea to gain another proselyte?' Or are we satisfying some 'racial superiority complex' (as many democracy and environment activists surely are today)? Is there 'spiritual impertinence to come to a nation that can produce a Gandhi or a [Rabindrath] Tagore?'

Jones replies that both East and West need three things: 'an adequate goal for character'; 'a free, full life'; 'God'. Christlikeness is the supreme goal for every character. Christ is life realized, not theorized. And Jesus is what God is like. Hence we speak.

Here are some of his juicier quotes:

'Jesus appeals to the soul as light appeals to the eye, as truth fits the conscience, as beauty speaks to the aesthetic nature. For Christ and the soul are made for one another, and when they are brought together deep speaks to deep and wounds answer wounds.'

'Religion is the life of God in the soul issuing in the kingdom of God on earth.'

The quotes are from THE CHRIST OF INDIAN ROAD

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