STANLEY EVANS: PROPHET OF THE SOCIAL HOPE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH


Stanley Evans (1912-1965) appears today as a rather marginal figure even to many with an interest in Christian Socialism. To mention his name to many in those circles is to bring forth either a knowing smile or a confession of ignorance. Evans, like Alan Ecclestone, worked at a time of transition between the marching optimism of John Groser and the grassroots organizing of Ken Leech. Groser's association with Socialists and Communists helped him find an appointment in the East End while Evans was among a number of clergy blacklisted by Lambeth in the 1950s for the same reason. Evans had trained at Mirfield with the Community of the Resurrection before coming to London to serve a succession of curacies where he quickly became disillusioned with the politics of his fellow clergy. His politics during the 1940s meant that he was able to report on the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty for the Communist Party of Great Britain's Daily Worker, but was unable to secure an appointment as an incumbent in the Church of England. Even if he was not a member of the Party, he was enmeshed in its political scene. His sermon at a requiem for Stalin at St. George's, Queen Square in 1953 speaks both to his refusal to discount the Communist project at that time as well as to his ambivalence about some of his strange comrades. In the intervening years, Evans appears to have become disillusioned by the state of the Soviet Union and in 1965 could describe Stalin's “sub-human ruthlessness.” The failure was partly an infidelity to Marx, a lack of awareness of humanity, and a “crudity of thought” leading to “a cruelty in action.”


Out of this time of disillusion, Evans eventually emerged as a successful parish priest who took services out into the streets and saw the need to train working people for the priesthood. He became a canon of Southwark Cathedral as Southbank Religion was emerging. He helped develop a model of theological training for people unable to leave behind work to go to a college of any sort. Evans remained radical throughout this time even as he shed some of his earlier sympathies. He saw, following Jack Putterill, the need to closely link the worship, prayer, and devotion of a parish with its own internal economy of sharing. He took so many attempts to stop Christians from pursuing the discipline of sharing as so many refusals of genuine discipleship. For him, the only division in the Church was between those who knew the Kingdom of God demanded the transformation of the world and those who did not. His great work, The Social Hope of the Christian Church, forcefully argues for the need for this transformation. The Social Hope was published the year of his death and stands as a testament of his thought.


In this work, he takes up at length arguments made earlier in The Church in the Back Streets, Return to Reality, and Christian Socialism: a Study Outline and Bibliography. In it he provides a dialectical account of what he describes as the “social tradition” in Christianity beginning with Jesus and ending in his present. Influenced by his time among Communists, Evans does not take a Romantic view of Church history. He does not valorize or glamorize the Middle Ages, viewing them as only marginally better than the Reformation. The time when Christian life was properly shared, when its unity was manifest, when the faith was truly preached, was the Apostolic age. The social tradition is the faith of the Apostles. To preach the social implications of the Gospel is not to add anything to it. The long sections of the book on Church history are a dialectical account of the emerging, submerging, and rediscovery of this fact of the gospel. Evans' goal in The Social Hope of the Christian Church was to show how this fact of the Gospel might once again be recovered, how we might return once again to the Apostolic faith. However disillusioned he became with some forms of Communism, Evans remained faithful and hopeful to the coming of God's Kingdom among us. The true faith remained.


In what follows, I am going to try to restate the heart of Evans’ vision in The Social Hope. Putting to the side his account of Church history, I will concentrate on the Kingdom of God in the preaching of the Prophets, Jesus, and Paul. Jesus makes a decisive intervention into previous prophetic work. Paul establishes the strategy and tactics of the new situation following Christ's ascension. The longer historical sections of the book detail the attempts of various Christians to avoid or to engage in their contemporary situation. The heart of the work calls us to that engagement now.


The Origin of the Kingdom of God


Evans builds The Social Hope of the Christian Church around the idea of the Kingdom: what it is; how it has been pursued; how we strive for it today. He does not take up the concept out of an ideal curiosity or an academic desire to generate research. Repeatedly throughout the book, Evans returns to the fact -- and he believes it to be a fact -- that the Kingdom is essential to what Christianity is. As he puts it towards the end of the book: “It is important to grasp the fact that this is not something added to Christianity by those who think a particular kind of way, it is of its essence.” (245) The “social” tradition of Christianity does not come late to the scene but is precisely how Christianity initially appears.


The source of this view is, of course, the Bible. By “Bible,” Evans does not mean the text drawn through any number of contemporary interpretive schemes or secured in fundamentalist bulwarks. The Bible we have received conveys a coherent message of God's self-revelation to humanity and the wending of humanity's response to that self-revelation. The human response to God's self-revelation is a way of living together. The composition of the Bible by different human people is evidence of the coherence of this self-revelation across time. Evans sketches his view of the Bible to show that his reading is faithful but also to show his readers that they too can engage with the Bible as a source of life. He sees parallels between the minute parsing of Origen and later historical-critical scholars but insists that the primary thing is to read the Bible seriously as a whole. He, therefore, places Jesus within the twists, turns, and contradictions of the Bible as a whole.


The social hope pursued by Christians is the Kingdom of God. The phrase, announced powerfully by Jesus in Mark 1:15 -- “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel,” is a phrase with a history. The basic structure of the kingdom exists already in the Old Testament.

This story is, in a sense, the key to the whole of Hebrew history. Moses is the liberator, the inspired leader who found the way to freedom, and the law enshrines the way of living of those who were slaves but have become free. It was not a chain that bound but a sword that released. (15)


The law comes about as the Israelites become a people in the desert. It enshrines the form of their unity. The unity and freedom of this people requires an egalitarian way of life wherein things are shared. The law begins with the idea that the land belongs to God rather than being owned as private property. “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.” (Deuteronomy 10.14) Evans is aware, of course, that this egalitarian approach has often failed. It is unclear, for instance, if the envisioned regular erasure of debt was ever practiced. Nevertheless, some form of life together based upon sharing was practiced that was capable of generating this law. Even if it was never fully practiced, the law still announces this vision for a society that can be pursued where such erasure could be a regular if not constant practice.


The law points to an ideal pursued in the progressive discovery of the life and morality God has intended for God's free people. The discovery of the law of the Kingdom of God is an ongoing process in the Bible. The prophets again and again call people back to the unity of life announced in the law. More than this recollection, though, they continually press the implications of God's will for a truly equal society. Evans explains this critical function in two ways.


First, the prophets resist the impulse to move the relationship of human beings to God into a separate “religious” sphere. The attempt to sequester God into a religious sphere, to cordon off worship from life, is moral choice and dereliction of the law.


Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:13-15)

Second, the prophets recall their hearers back to this integrated version of life. They knew that to abandon this way of the law was to court destruction. “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7) God's concern is with the morality of the community as a whole, and so they must be recalled as a whole or they will fall as a unit. Evans goes on at length to show how this concern manifested itself in the prophets as a concern for the very concrete machinations of empires, armies, and politicians at the time.


Evans sees two emerging elements in this theology that prefigure the coming of Jesus of Nazareth.


First, in books like Jonah and in the Wisdom literature, one can see an emerging internationalism wherein the pursuit of the unity desired by God by a specific community is tied up with the life of all. The internationalism inherent in the life of the church finds its roots in these moments. The good life is only possible on the basis of justice and equality, and this equality will eventually extend to all.


Second, Apocalyptic literature points to the coming Kingdom of God as the return of the law:


For them as for the prophets the great consuming interest of life and of its future was the Kingdom of God and the Messiah comes into the picture only in connection with the Advent of the Kingdom. That the coming of the Kingdom involved struggle they never doubted and the real point of division between the general aspirations of the people and the Pharisees was the latter's rejection of struggle and growing view that the Kingdom could only come by the miraculous intervention of God. (33)


Announcing the coming Kingdom of God in its fullness, rather than its religious sequestration, meant announcing the suppression of all empires and dominions. The suppression and destruction of the oppressing empires happens in, through, and with the coming dominion of the Son of Man: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.”


And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7.13-14) Kingdoms are falling in the coming of the Kingdom of all peoples, all nations, and all languages. The one who is going to do this is a specific person.


Jesus and the Kingdom


Jesus of Nazareth takes up the prophetic work of preaching the Kingdom of God. Evans' exploration of Jesus' place in the coming of the Kingdom can at times seem theologically thin. It would be a mistake, though, to assume he is not taking Jesus or the dogmatic tradition seriously. Evans does not dwell at length on these issues simply because he assumes them as will be clear when his theology of worship is considered. He emphasizes in The Social Hope the practical work Jesus undertakes to preach the Kingdom as well as to begin the process of concretely bringing it about. The model for his work are previous religious figures like Moses and the prophets who help form the community into the unity that God desires. Jesus “discussed the method of its achievement; he came to inaugurate it.” (37)


As Evans describes the actual work of Jesus on earth, he makes a point with ramifications for his own theory of Christian practice. Jesus worked to fulfill the purpose and desire of the law,”'its aspirations,” even as he changed the methods for pursuing the Kingdom. Jesus remains committed to the fundamentals of the Kingdom, he accepts entirely its strategy, but he acts tactically with freedom from previous pursuits of the Kingdom. The break becomes clear, for Evans, when we see the way Jesus does not simply accept the authority of inherited traditions. He sees himself as competent to judge their applicability to the Kingdom in terms of their practical value. The society that would follow from Jesus Christ would, like him, take practice rather than profession as its standard.


What standard of practice did Jesus propose for these judgments? “It was one of the coming of an actual corporate society upon earth in which all men should be adjudged of equal value, in which there should be no exploitation or oppression, but complete justice between man and man.” (37) As from the very beginning, God's desire is for complete justice through equality between all people. The Kingdom was and is the place where this justice through equality comes to dwell even if only in a fleeting way. Jesus undertakes to effect the Kingdom in such a way that it actually transforms those he is in contact with at this time. Evans describes how the initial temptation of Jesus is a temptation to accept shortcuts to the Kingdom.


Evans divides Jesus' mission into two parts. The first part of the mission is the calling and sending of the Twelve – preaching, healing, and confessing that Jesus is the Christ. This organizing work began to show people that there was a way of unity and equality in the law; and such cooperation let them live at least briefly under this law. Jesus was beginning to create a new society where justice, liberation, health, and life were possible. He was healing, feeding, and setting people free to be together. This campaign was leading to the moment when Peter would confess him as the Christ acknowledging what was tacit until now. As the prophets knew, the Kingdom would arrive as the assertion of God's total sovereignty on the earth. Jesus was and is the way of God's sovereignty over the earth: here is the Son of Man who is God ruling. Evans sees Jesus as God's act, defining what it is to be with God in this world. Jesus sets up the Kingdom, something we cannot do, but does so in such a way that we can become fellow-workers in that Kingdom. Divine sovereignty is whatever way Jesus acts. Evans is not, therefore, taking away from God's activity when he describes Jesus' teaching:


In germ, he taught, the Kingdom had actually come, it was among men, but in its fullness its coming depended upon its acceptance by men. It was a Kingdom of righteousness and peace and active unwearied forgiveness. The gospel meant a new community with new standards and the equality it produced included a full equality between men and women. (46)

The second part of Jesus' campaign is the move to Jerusalem and his assault on the authorities there, “where he deliberately ran his head into the noose that was to kill.” (44) The cleansing of the temple is a key moment in Evans' account of Jesus' mission. The move against the temple was not a solitary act by Jesus but one where he led a mob to overturn the tables. “It was a violent act: it was a usurpation of properly constituted authority, and for it he gave his reason, a reason which history must judge to be adequate: ‘My Father's House is a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves."' (45-46) Evans views Jesus as violent here because the turning over of the tables is a proclamation of divine sovereignty and power against another power. To declare Jesus and a mob in power will look revolutionary to those currently in power. Evans continues to exegete Jesus' trial so that the people did not abandon Jesus. The trial takes place at night in secret when the crowds and pilgrims were distant from Jesus. It is the Chief Priests and the Sanhedrin who shout for Barabbas. Once he is condemned the people do not simply abandon him. “And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.” (Luke 23.27) Later, as Jesus dies upon the cross, “all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.” (Luke 23.48) The people, the crowd, the mob, do not abandon Jesus at the cross. The struggle ending in the cross was not with the people but with the authorities. His solidarity with the poor could not be brought to an end.


The crucifixion is the overcoming of the authorities through the practice of sacrifice: “the only sure and final way to overthrow an evil domination was to place over against it a community bound together by love and prepared to sacrifice.” (49) The domination was to be defeated through unwearied forgiveness and sacrificial love. The resurrection was “the sign of the triumph of his Kingdom.” (55) It is possible at this point to take up this kind of sacrificial love, with accompanying dramatics, as a call to what is effectively political quietism. Evans takes this in another direction entirely. He endorses neither a quietism, nor a busy activism. He knows that Christians cannot simply bring the Kingdom, “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1.7) They are not, however, meant to be idle: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1.8) The followers of Christ do not know when the Kingdom will be restored in fullness, nevertheless, they possess the power appropriate to their task. When they go out to Judaea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, they will go out with powerful good news. “Not good news which bypassed their real problems. This it did because it proclaimed the advent of a real kingdom of justice and denounced the false kingdom in which they eked out an inferior existence.” (54)


The Church and the Kingdom


Following the Ascension, we are faced with the question of how to be duly commissioned fellow-workers in the Kingdom inaugurated by Jesus Christ. We are set free from the strictures of the world to live from the love given to us in Jesus Christ. The basic structure of prophetic action reappears in the church who now call all people to the unity made known in the Kingdom of God by Jesus Christ freeing them from worldly respectability. The dynamic of struggle in Christ's life, his powerful embodiment of the laws of the Kingdom against its enemies, leading to his sacrifice upon the Cross, reappears in the life of the church.


The complexity of the Church’s current situation is the result of two factors: grace and internationalism. Evans turns to St. Paul, “both the leading strategist and the leading tactician of the infant Christian Church,” to show how these two factors can be negotiated as part of the preparation for and fellow-working in the Kingdom of God by the Church.


Paul does not offer a new interpretation of the law or additional laws. Paul's teaching “was a belief in the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon his servants, the result of which was that whatever they did was right. They were no longer under law but grace.” (68) The doctrine was clearly dangerous and remains a source of danger today. The temptation will be to see the movement of the Holy Spirit as freedom from engagement with the world around us. The error is temporal and moral. The error is temporal in failing to recognize the nature of the present time of transition into the Kingdom: “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” (I Corinthians 15.24) The current time is the prolonged period of Christ's destruction of all rule, authority, and power. The quietist position assumes the irrelevance of the historical process. It rejects the sense of creation as the theater of God's activity. The Christian position, however, sees the present time as the continuation of the struggle against rule, authority, and power in cooperation with Christ's power and his Spirit. “[Revelation 21.1-22.5] was a majestic vision, but it was a realistic vision; one which faced the cost involved in the fact that there is no triumph of good save with the collapse and overthrow of evil.” (79) The struggle continues in a manner appropriate to its location in the process of salvation. The Church cannot substitute any law-giving authority in the place of Jesus Christ. No bishop, no president, no judge, no court, and no police officer can take his place. The analogy for the present time is the desert years under Moses: here the future law is forged in the wrestle of worship with God so that the saints will be ready to take command of the situation at the right time.


Paul's victory in the early Church was to secure its internationalist commitments. The unity of the body was to be potentially unlimited. Paul saw the need for this because he saw the coming of the Kingdom not as a limited rescue operation but an attack on “a world-order based on hatred.” (70) The unity was not to be secured by either a homogenous identity in the Church or an abstract unity detached from concrete life. The tendency to see Paul as a reactionary or a conservative figure fails to appreciate the way Paul pursued the goal of an internationalist Church. Evans describes this failure as a failure to distinguish between strategy and tactics. The fundamental strategic commitment to the unity of all people in, through, and with Jesus of Nazareth cannot be questioned, but everything else could be negotiated.


We have to shock people on fundamentals. We are not bound by any details—we are under grace—but let us not shock people and divide our own ranks on things which are not fundamental. Let us not use our liberty as a cloak for maliciousness. Where things do not matter we can conform in order to press the deeper argument. (72)

The strategy of the Kingdom of God had to be pursued without wavering while tactically Christians were to go as far as possible without endangering the growth of the community. A number of seemingly faithful and conservative readings of Paul that attempt to continue to implement his specific guidance to early congregations in fact straightforwardly betray his intended purpose. So, Evans maintains, Paul could tactically call for submission to the oppressing State given the general situation while remaining fundamentally committed to the fact that the same State was passing away. The strategic fact was that Christ was going to abolish 'all rule and all authority and power' even if tactically the Saints needed to pay taxes.


Evans sums up Paul's approach: “[St. Paul] saw there could be no fundamental change, no ‘Kingdom of God,’ until the Roman Empire had doomed itself by its own rottenness, but also only then if the "Saints" were strong enough to take command of the situation.” (72)


How, if we remain in basically this same position, can we continue in this fellow-work of the Kingdom?


To continue this project, two things are necessary: worship and criticism.


Worship, which for Evans is primarily the eucharist, is necessary to the Christian life because in it we are united to God through Christ and to each other. Worship takes place in a specific place with the understanding that those specific circumstances are capable of showing forth our fundamental unity materially and spiritually. The whole of life comes to our worship, the offering of self and possessions in the offertory, to find its unity in the united act of the altar.


The sacraments enact and proclaim what Christian doctrine asserts, that good is not an abstraction but something which has to be made incarnate, that truth and peace and justice and all that is desirable are not phrases to be mouthed but realities to assert and realities which have to be worked out in the entire order of human society and expressed in material terms. (256)


The eucharist shows the unity of human beings with each other in concrete, material, and worked-out realities rather than in some abstract form. The worship of this group shows the possible unity just as the unity of the desert showed what was possible for the Israelites.


More than merely illustrating unity, worship of God transforms worshippers. In worship, we experience “God whose very being gives all human beings that serenity which is one of the deepest needs of their nature; the experience of Jesus of Nazareth, his life and teaching and suffering and resurrection” leading us to the exultant inspiration of the Spirit. (246) By beginning to live Jesus' life in our prayer and in our worship together, we are becoming like God. The experience of worship is at some level the experience of the Triune God as we slowly become incorporated into that God. At every level this participation engenders sharing in those who worship Jesus of Nazareth because to worship him, to follow him, is to accept his teachings. We are set free to follow his way of life because we, like him, are in total dependence upon God the Father for the nature of our identity. Our unity, our sharing, our suffering, and our love of others does not secure this identity given through Christ, but expresses it. “The tragedy of life is division: the goal of life is unity. The sacraments assert the unity of spiritual and material, for life is whole; they assert the unity of aspiration and fulfillment; they assert the unity of man with man; they assert the unity of man with God.” (256) Worship places us in the Spirit, and it is in the Spirit's power that we are able to live free from the false constraints of this world.


Worship is necessary for the life of the church because it enacts the actual dominion of God in this time and place. In it, we live in the future where Christ has “put down all rule and all authority and power.” For a time we taste the reality of the Kingdom.


The unity of the Holy Trinity in the life of the Church, and the unity of all people – a constant and perpetual Pentecost, leads us to the necessary work of criticism.


The work of criticism includes theological criticism of different forms of belief. We tend to become like what we worship so it “follows that there is no more important question than what Christians have thought that God is like.” (245) The exemplary instance of this criticism is the orthodox attack on Arianism. Arius affirms the Son as the first of creatures so Jesus is not, therefore, able to reveal the Father and is capable of change. Evans sees the Arian position as a denial of fellowship between Son and Father as well as a denial of the consequent fellowship between God and humanity. Arians would, then, have been on their way to denying the fellowship of the Church and the Kingdom. The Arian denies our knowledge of God by denying our fellowship with God and with each other. Against this position, the orthodox faith turns to a Son who is of one essence with the Father, capable of revelation, dominion, and fellowship for all time. With God and humanity united in Jesus of Nazareth, we know that humanity can be made like God in its worship and life through its fellowship with God in Christ. The deifying community established in the divine-human fellowship “is the perfection of community in which individuality is not blotted out, or unity, as a consequence, impeded.” (248) Orthodox teaching demands an egalitarian society wherein individuals are freed from the terror of competition. The attack on the egalitarian fact of the Kingdom will come as a revival of past heresies of Arianism and subordinationism and so our theology will need to be held in constant criticism in light of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ. Orthodox doctrine stands behind the social hope of the Christian Church. Part of our task is to work to proclaim in word and deed that faith in its fullness by judging our ideas in light of the fact of the incarnate God. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity and our fellowship with that God provide adequate criteria for making critical judgments about what we believe and how we live. Our doctrine cannot be separated from our life together: “It is important to grasp the fact that this is not something added to Christianity by those who think in a particular kind of way, it is of its essence.” (245) The orthodox confession demands the social life of the Kingdom. Those who are not interested in one will not, in the end, be interested in the other.


Criticism must have its way with our own moral lives as well. Justice and morality must “be applied fearlessly to all social life.” (237) Again and again Christians have been tempted to find some aspect of human life to exempt from the moral questioning Jesus requires of us. Such exemption allows, in subtle and in obvious ways, for the sin of Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky to recur in the life of the Church. Evans sees a close parallel between Marx and the New Testament when each point out the way morality is related to the social class of those attempting to be moral, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10.23) The counter to this socially-determined morality is a universal morality appropriate to the future unity of all people. The Christian and the Leninist part company at this point. The Christian cannot say that the peaceful ends justify the violence of means necessary to suppress the opposing classes. The reason is not so much pacifism, which Evans does not endorse, as the Christian insistence on an objective morality not entirely determined by social class, which puts the Christian rather than Leninist closer to Marx for Evans. There is some power that breaks through these class conceptions to point a way forward without them. The moral criticism falls just as harshly on the respectable gentleman. The person who aims for the life of respectability by following the moral code at hand, without asking after it, exempts their life from moral trial as surely as the revolutionary who murders without hesitation. Evans quotes Gore's stinging condemnation of the well-to-do Englishman, “Conscientious within the region of the traditional and expected, they are almost impenetrable to light from beyond.” (238) They may move through society as respectable planters, judges, priests, bishops, presidents, teachers, soldiers, and students capable of making sacrifices to fulfill their moral obligations. They will fail as fellow-workers in the Kingdom because they cannot see the need for moral progress and criticism.


What is the basis of this moral criticism? How do we know our morality is progressing towards the morality of the Kingdom?


The criteria of our morality is the same criteria as the Kingdom: the sharing of our life and the sharing of our goods. The sharing is the result of our love becoming manifest in our spiritual and material lives. The teaching of the prophets, of Jesus, and of the Bible:


...is that love has to be expressed in material terms as well as spiritual and when this happens it needs no explaining away. As to calculations about the end of the age, the entire mission of the Church was (and is) to be ready for the end of the age and replace it with something ordered according to the will of God. (62)

The real sharing of our lives, our real fellowship, is what we are forging, practicing, struggling, and sacrificing for as we prepare for the Promised Land where Christ has “put down all rule and all authority and power.” We prepare ourselves through this integrated life of love, sharing, peace, and righteousness to overthrow the evil of our division:


The only kind of economic system which is compatible with and is expressive of, the Christian way of life, is some form of sharing of the material goods of the earth and it would seem to be a primary Christian duty to play a part in bringing such a system into being. This is a Christian view because it is in fellowship which is expressed in sharing and arises out of sharing that the Christian sees heaven: fellowship is heaven, and lack of fellowship is hell. (232)


To say all of this, for Evans, is not to take a “social” or a “political” view of the Gospel. “It is a statement of the simple fact that there is no such thing as a Christianity which is not an assertion in the midst of the present world order of the life of the resurrection and which is not, therefore, in the deepest of all possible senses, a revolutionary agent in the world.” (249)


Will we be that agent? Will we read the Bible? Will we follow this Jesus of Nazareth? Will we worship the Holy Trinity? Will we share of ourselves?


Will Levanway

Chattanooga, TN

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