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The Christ of the Indian Road

Introduction:

 

Stanley Jones was born in Baltimore, Maryland, January 3rd 1884. He was educated in Baltimore schools and studied law at City College before being graduated from Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky in 1906. He was on the faculty of Asbury College when he was called to missionary service in India in 1907 under the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a close friend of Gandhi and witnessed to him repeatedly. He began his work among the members of the very low castes and the outcastes. He did not attack Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or any Indian religion. He presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ, disentangled from western systems and cultures, and their sometimes non-Christian expressions. “The way of Jesus should be—but often isn’t—the way of Christianity,” he said. “Western civilization is only partly Christianized.”

Dr. Jones conducted great mass meetings in leading Indian cities. At one such meeting, their leader said, “We may not agree with what Dr. Jones is saying, but we can certainly all try to be like Jesus Christ.” He inaugurated “round table conferences” at which Christian and non-Christian sat down as equals to share their testimonies as to how their religious experiences enabled them to live better. Thirty years before the United Nations came into being he proposed a Round Table of Nations.

            His work became interdenominational and world-wide. He held before men the example of God’s reconciliation to mankind through Jesus on the cross. He made Him visible as the Universal Son of Man who had come for all people. This opening up of nations to receiving Christ within their own framework marked a new approach in missions. It came to be known as “indigenization”. He helped to re-establish the Indian “Ashram” (or forest retreat) as a means of drawing men and women together for days at a time to study in depth their own spiritual natures and quest, and what the different faiths offered individuals. Many came to refute the Christian Gospel or to extol their own, but many came to accept Christ’s way of life. These confrontations of man with man and religion with religion greatly influenced the thought life of India’s leaders and the views and activities of its ancient faiths. Then in 1930, along with a British missionary and Indian pastor and using the sound Christian missionary principle of indigenization, Dr. Jones reconstituted the “Ashram” with Christian disciplines. This institution became known as the “Christian Ashram.”

            In 1959 Stanley Jones was named “Missionary Extraordinary” by the Methodist missionary publication World Outlook. A well-known Bishop described him as “the greatest Christian missionary since Saint Paul.” He traveled among the peoples of the earth, speaking three or more times daily. In December 1971, at the age of 88, while leading the Oklahoma Christian Ashram, Brother Stanley suffered a stroke that seriously impaired him physically but not mentally and spiritually. He was severely impaired in his speech, but dictated onto a tape recorder his last book The Divine Yes and in June of 1972 gave moving messages from his wheel chair at the First Christian Ashram World Congress in Jerusalem. He died January 25, 1973 in his beloved India. E. Stanley Jones was truly a “Missionary Extraordinary” to the twentieth century!

Comments:

In the book of ‘The Christ of the Indian Road’ the writer Stanley Jones discussed about many personal issues related with mission in India. The author has tried to be scrupulously careful not to overdraw the picture. He has let non-Christians themselves largely tell the story of the silent revolution in thought that is taking place in India. He also said, Christian missions have come to a crisis in India. A new and challenging situation confronts us. If we are to meet it, we must boldly follow the Christ into what are, to us, untried paths. In any case Christian missions are but in their beginnings in India. With adjusted attitude and spirit they will be needed in the East for decades and generations to come.

In further he mentioned about three reasons. First, Indian is aggrieved, and he think rightly so, that Christian missionaries in order to arouse the West to missionary activity have too often emphasized the dark side of the picture. He does not believe a superiority complex to be the proper spring for missionary activity. As Americans we have resented it as being an untrue picture. Then as Christians we should do unto others as we would that others should do unto us. Second, Indians themselves are now alive to these evils and are combating them. The impact of Christian ideals upon the situation has created a conscience in regard to these things and we trust Indian to right them as she is, in fact, now doing. The fact is that racial lines are so drawn that India will probably deal more drastically with her evils if she does it from within than if we foreigners were always insisting upon it. Third, he has tried to lay the foundations for Christian missions deeper than upon particular evils found in a particular race. Taken at their very best, pagan men and systems in East or West need Christ. He has said to India very frankly: “I don not make a special drive upon you because you are the neediest people of our race, but because you are a member of our race. We are all in the same deep need. Christ, I believe, can supply that need.”

Another word should be added in regard to another seeming lack of emphasis. He has not emphasized the mass movement among the low castes because his book has been the story growing out of his own sphere of work. His work has been more connected with that mass movement in mind described in these pages than with the mass movement among the low castes. In spite of its obvious weaknesses and dangers he deeply grateful for and rejoice in this later mass movement in which there is a turning of these dumb millions to Christ. In spite of statements to the contrary, this movement is going on with unabated force.

When the early evangelists of the Good News were sent out on their own, they returned and told Jesus, “what they had done and what they had taught.” It will not be primarily an account of what has been done through him, but what has been done to him. The writer thought his task was more complex than he now sees it to be; not less difficult but fewer complexes.  When he first went to India he was trying to hold a very long line—a line that stretched clear from Genesis to Revelation, on to Western Civilization and to the Western Christian Church. He was worried. There was no well-defined issue. He found the battle almost invariably being pitched at one of these three places: the Old Testament, or Western Civilization, or the Christian Church. The he saw that he could, and should, shorten his line, that he could take his stand at Christ and before that non-Christian world refuse to know anything save Jesus Christ and him crucified. He saw that the gospel lies in the person of Jesus, that He himself is the Good News that my one task was to live and to present Him.

 As Bossuet says, “whenever Christianity has struck out a new path in her journey it has been because the personality of Jesus has again become living, and a ray from his being has once more illuminated the world.” Out of a subject race came this gospel in the beginning, and it may be that out of another subject race may come its clarification and revivification. Some of us feel that the next great spiritual impact upon the soul of the race is due to come by way of India.

Application;

        Through this book I learned many mission strategies how to deal with different kinds of people around us. But I like the word that Stanley Jones mentioned into a Poem: A Kingdom where there is no East nor West; There are no walls dividing clan from clan; But brotherhood as wide as humankind, And with a King who is the “Son of man.”

 

Bibliography:

The Christ of the Indian Road by E. Stanley Jones, The Abingdon Press, New York, USA. 1925.

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