Theology

“If Jesus is not the answer, there is no answer.”

Over the course of Jones’ life as a devoted Christian and evangelist, his fundamental theological convictions emerged. Unafraid to probe his own mind and heart, Dr. Jones asked himself the following questions: “Stanley, you have been a Christian for 50 years. You walked with Christ for 50 years and you have faced life together. What have you learned? What has life taught you in these 50 years? What are the convictions which you hold, or deeper, which hold you?” Through his sermons and writings, he expressed 12 primary convictions, all revolving around his understanding that “if Jesus is not the answer, there is no answer.”

We Live in a Moral Universe. The moral universe that God created is dependable. We experience results or consequences in this God-created universe.

“The God who is behind this moral universe stands in relationship to us as a Father who loves us, cares for us and would redeem us. The creator of this universe is a God who is Love and who seeks all of humanity as the object of His love. The New Testament tells us that God revealed Himself in His most perfect and loving form in the person of His son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is incarnate God. Jesus is the “Word” become “flesh.” Jesus is God become man. The divine word became flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus shows us how to live in that He is our example and disposes us to live in that He is our redeemer.

The center of the incarnation is the cross. The cross represents the reality of God’s full identification and experience with our suffering. What fell on Jesus fell on God, what He bore, God bore; Jesus’ cross was God’s cross. Self-surrender reflects our presence at the cross.

The way of Christ is written into me and into the nature of reality. The Way is written into the nature of reality and into our natures. Christian living has cosmic backing, for it is the natural way to live. The message of revelation and the facts of science both end up at the feet of Christ.

The way to live is by grace and receptivity. Self surrender enables us to take the gift of God which transforms us and enables us to walk upon the Way! We travel upon that Way by grace and receptivity.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is the birthright of all Christians. The Holy Spirit makes Christ our contemporary, for the Holy Spirit is Christ in us now!

The Kingdom of God is the ultimate order and God’s answer to man’s total need. The Kingdom of God is to be taken seriously as a present reality. Jesus believed in life and in its redemption. The Kingdom of God is the collective redemption of all mankind.

The way to meet unmerited suffering is to use it. Unmerited suffering and injustice can be used. Jesus took the cross, the symbol of death, and turned it into the symbol of redemption. All injustice and evil can be used as an occasion of a testimony to the glory of God.

Jesus is Lord and will have the last word in human events. Jesus is Lord, and if we have any doubt, we can simply recall the resurrection on the third day. “Put out the candles, the sun is up.” Jesus is alive now and Jesus is Lord.

Love is the strongest force in the world and will ultimately win. The love of God is the biggest thing in the universe, and when that love is incarnate in a person, we know that God’s love has sought us out in the way that mankind can grasp and follow.

Jesus is the one perfect gift that we have to give to the world. Jesus is a gift to be shared with the world: “In the person of Jesus Christ the Christian church holds within itself a motive and a power that produces transformed persons.”

Victory Through Self-Surrender

In His Own Words

Once “crucified” with Christ, that is “surrendered to Him,” you in fact can live and have meaning and purpose in your life. If you are not crucified with Christ voluntarily and with set purpose, then you will be crucified on the cross of your own contradictions and your own conflicts. It isn’t a question of if you would rather be crucified or not. You will be crucified. However if you accept being crucified with Christ, through self-surrender, you can now focus on a new center, which has been cleansed, and you can cultivate yourself around that surrendered self.With self-surrender, Christ asks us to take the one thing that we own (the self) and give it back to God. In surrendering the self, we may naturally fear that nothing will be left. We wonder, according to Jones, about how we are to live without the self, which gives us identity, value, and worth in this world.The response sounds paradoxical, for it is in the total surrender of one’s life that one finds true meaning and joy in life. The surrendered self no longer accommodates itself to the pattern and values of this world, for it has been liberated from the demands of the world and placed in the hands of Jesus. The self is now free.It is possible to cross the seas and leave your home and your friends and give up your salary and everything else and yet not give up the final thing – the surrender of one’s self.Self-surrender is the only remedy. I cannot go down any road on anything with anybody who has problems without running straight into the necessity of self-surrender. All else is marginal; this is central. I only have one remedy, for I find only one disease – self at the center; self trying to be God.

(E. Stanley Jones, Victory through Surrender)​

The Round Table Approach

E. Stanley Jones felt strongly the he had no right to teach others if he was not learning from them. He writes:

In looking back at the Round Table approach, I see now how daring and decisive this approach was: Here we were putting our cards on the table and asking the non-Christian world to do the same. Suppose our ‘hands” with which we were playing the game of life should turn out to be inadequate; and suppose other ways of life should prove more adequate. This was a showdown, and the stakes were high. In every situation the trump card was Jesus Christ. He made the difference. The people who followed Him might be spotty and inadequate, but they had hold of the spotless and adequate or better Christ had hold of them!I came to India with everything to teach and nothing to learn. I now learn as well, and I am a better man for having come into contact with the gentle heart of the East.The Roundtable meetings were a more intimate approach than the public lectures.  Leading representatives of different faiths, including agnostics and atheists (30-40 people) would be invited to share what their faith or lack of faith meant to them in experience. He would ask, “Tell us what you have found through your faith – What does it do for you in your everyday life?

(E. Stanley Jones, A Song of Ascents)

Present day dialogues with non-Christian faiths have been heralded as something new, and they are surely important. E. Stanley Jones held these conversations 80 years ago.