By John A. Sanford The Kingdom Within The Inner Meaning of Jesus Sayings

I want to explore this book a little and maybe offer it to those of you who can see it in your interest to explore further.

The big plus is: John Sanford locates the Kingdom of God within. I think that is where it is. Sightings of the Kingdom without occur because the one who sees has changed, not that the world has changed. World changing comes next and it involves changing the world within others. Which is why screaming at the world does not work.

 Here is the problem. John skitters between the somewhat factual world of the Gospels, (granting a broad definition of “factual”) to a description of the inner life based on Jungian psychology. That sounds simple but its not. Take for example the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

The parable in short form: Man has two sons. Younger one takes his inheritance runs off to another land, squanders what he has and returns only with a desperate hope for a job on the plantation. Dad gets excited about his return and heaps all sorts of good things his direction. The other son, the elder who by custom is the inheritor of all when dad dies, works his bottom off on the farm and discovers that the kid is home when he is told while working in the field that his dad has set a banquet for the kid to which he can come if able. (The scholars I read are confident that this is pretty close to what Jesus said.)

This leads John Sanford to explore briefly the Jungian types of the two sons and the need for self-confrontation. Ta, da! Except Jesus does not know Jungian psychology and the scholars are confident that the villain of the story in the minds of those who heard it was the father who was acting like a wimp, worse, a woman. What Jesus was pushing at them was the possibility of a less authoritarian family and a softer role for a father which idea they liked not at all.

Now why does not John Sanford, a Jesuit, the order that prides itself on brains, know this?  Simple. The book was written in 1970 before any such possibilities were being explored except in a seminal way by some scholars buried in new data in some universities, monasteries, archeological diggings, scattered across the planet. Now we have books on these subjects, (cf. The Jesus Scholars,) written for laypeople (non-scholars) in your local library.

This stress continues throughout the book. Excellent ideas from Jungian sources and loosely linked to the scripturesincluding what seems to me the critically important fact that Jesus was not peddling Jung.

Outside of that. It is a good book.  You learn that the kingdom is inside and some deep ideas about how the inside works, according to Jung. You might want to buy, quite expensive but very useful, The Five Gospels by Funk et al. to check the scripture passages and see what modern scholarship has to say about them. It will help keep your head on straight.