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The Kingdom of God as a Wiser Radicalism

By Henry Garman Oct 9, 2014


E. Stanley Jones was the most famous Christian missionary of the twentieth century. Known and
respected worldwide as an evangelist, devotional writer and statesman, he was also prophetic,
foreseeing the future time when Christians would rediscover what Jesus taught of the Kingdom of
God and implement it in practical terms.

Time magazine in 1938 referred to Jones as "the world's greatest missionary", and the Christian
Century in 1941 observed that "perhaps no Christian leader in America commands a wider
following than he".

In 1935, after visiting Stalinist Russia, Jones wrote this book entitled "Christ's Alternative to
Communism". In this book Jones deals at length with the problem of the "social vacuum" of
Christianity and the challenge of totalitarian dictatorships.

Jones wrote that the world economy was headed for a supreme crisis - that the present order of
things was doomed, that its injustices were breaking it down, and that world events were leading
to a situation in which his generation or the next would have to decide between materialistic,
atheistic Communism or the Kingdom of God on earth. His conviction was that Christianity
contained within itself a wiser and better radicalism that that offered by the Communists, and that
Christians should take this radical program of Jesus and apply it to the remaking of the world.

Jones was convinced that what Jesus called the good news- the Gospel- had been lost- not
silenced, but lost as the directive of Christianity. He believed that the Christian movement had lost
its goal and the power to move onto that goal. Rather than the Kingdom of God being its central
concern, the church retained it only as a marginal concept, and substitutes became the goal. The
Kingdom retreated within and Christian experience became the refuge, the fortress to hold out
against the world. A crippled Christianity was the result.

Instead of teaching and experiencing the Kingdom of God as a present reality, total meaning, and
direction in every area of life, the church became satisfied with an individual experience now and
an collective experience in heaven. In between, vast areas of life were left out, unredeemed- the
economic, the social, the political. Into that vacuum moved the secular "gospels"- the earthborn
totalitarianisms.

"The Christian churches produce in their members a social conscience through the reading of the
prophets and the Gospels. But they do little to canalize that social conscience into concrete plans
and programs for social and economic change. A vacuum is formed. The Communists stepped into
that vacuum with a well-defined program. The Christians fell for it, for they felt frustrated. It was a
lack of program for social and economic implementation of the Christian conscience that opened
the door to the Communists."

Jones declared that he was "not a Communist, nor do I call myself a Socialist, but I am a Christian
seeking for a solution of this problem. I am sure- desperately sure- that Christianity must give a
lead at this place or abdicate. It is not enough to tell me that Christianity can and does change the
lives of individual men. . . Shall we rescue individual slaves and leave intact the slave system? Shall
we reclaim individual drunkards and not touch the liquor traffic? Shall we pick up the wounded in
war and leave intact the war system?"

It was Jones' conviction that Jesus came to offer a total redemption. Not only was the soul to be
saved, the whole of life was to be redeemed. The Kingdom of God is both personal and social:

"In recent centuries men have been content that it be a personal confession of the personal
saviourhood of Jesus, but we are again discovering that we must confess Christ as Son of God in
social, economic, and international relationships as well. And the church must embody that larger
confession or cease to be the Church of the Living Christ."

For Christianity to make an impact on the world, it would begin with the individual, but go as far as
his relationships extend. Either Christianity would provide an alternative to Marxist socialism or
succumb to it.

"We must meet radicalism with a wiser and better radicalism.. . I am deeply convinced that
Christianity has within it the program and the vitality for the remaking of the world, if we would
discover it and apply it. . . In the midst of disorder we must have more than oratory. Christianity
had been preached to death. We must get hold of a program for world reconstruction and boldly
apply it."

Jones recognized that for Christians to unite in a program, or movement, it would have to be an
integral part of the gospel:

"I am convinced that Christian forces will not throw themselves behind this movement . . . unless
they are sure that it is an integral part of their gospel. It must not be something imposed upon the
gospel as a changing social fashion, but the soul of its very soul. No movement ever took place
that did not grow out of deep convictions. . . The Christian Revolution must be founded in
convictions. . . that are the very foundations of the universe."

The Ultimate Program, Jones was convinced, the Christian Revolution, was announced by Jesus of
Nazareth at the beginning of his ministry. It was what Jesus called the Good News - the only thing
he called the Gospel:

"Jesus gave principles. We can see quite clearly what his program is. It is the Kingdom of God on
earth. In this conception he announced a higher order, founded on love, good will, and
brotherhood, breaking into and transforming and ultimately displacing the lower world order
founded on greed, selfishness, exploitation, and unbrotherliness. That Kingdom is the ultimate
order or goal of humanity. But while this Kingdom was his program in general, he put very definite
content into it, and marked out the lines of its advance when he made the great announcement in
the little synagogue at Nazareth."