(Originally posted on Amazon October 30, 2005)
All for Jesus, is an important defining piece for a movement that stretches back to the late 19th century.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance was never intended to be a denomination. A.B. Simpson made it very clear that he believed that the Kingdom did not need another denomination, what was needed was a cross-denominational movement that focused on Foreign Missions cooperatively. Around this movement grew many independent Churches who wanted some form of central organization.
The Missions Movement was the Missionary Alliance. The organization of Independent Churches was the Christian Alliance. They were intended to be separate and maintain the cross-denominational, almost inter-denominational flavor of the foreign missions movement.
Over time the C&MA did indeed become more and more of a denomination tied to an emphasis on foreign missions. Despite the fact that it began more and more to walk like a duck, quack like a duck and go remarkably well with orange sauce, the views of the founder remained woven in the hierarchy and so the duck was kept in the closet …. but newspapers were spread and corn meal slipped under the door regularly to keep the duck healthy.
The duck came out of its closet in the 1970′s. The C&MA was ready to admit what it was functioning as for years; namely a denomination. Any good denomination ought to have a history, and this book, All for Jesus was the result.
It is a good work with a very good narrative through the years of the wonderful accomplishments through the C&MA. Good pictures and illustrations will be found.
The C&MA often struggles compared to other denominations for a sense of identity. Typically that identity includes unique doctrinal emphasis or a specific focus or purpose organizationally.
Doctrinally, the distinctive of the C&MA is the four-fold Gospel or Christ as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King. Unfortunately the emphasis of Christ as Healer and Sanctifier has diminished greatly over the years and the 4-Legged table upon which the C&MA once rested has 2 short legs and wobbles quite a bit. This has been true since the 1930′s when a large exodus of C&MA people and Churches went over to the Assemblies of God. In recoil against that movement, the C&MA now claims to be neutral to that which smacks of the Charismatic. In practice, those elements of healing and sanctification that were part of the C&MA heritage are not really highly present anymore and to the extent that they are, they are a shadow of what they once were.
The C&MA has thrown in it’s lot to a great extent with the Church Growth movement out of Fuller Seminary and sought for growth without always clearly defining what their distinctives are.
All For Jesus helps to fill this vacuum with a very well laid out history of Missionary work and the spread of the denomination oversees which has all but eclipsed the growth of the mother church back in North America.
If the C&MA has any one predominant identifying factor, it is the emphasis on Foreign Missions.
This is an excellent work and worth reading for anyone associated with the C&MA or indeed just in the general evangelical community who wants to see and understand the roots of foreign missions.
The C&MA still remains at a crossroads as it continues to figure out who they are and where they are going. Knowing where they’ve been is essential to this process. I wish them well and I recommend this book as an excellent resource for many.