“Clarence Jordan spoke with an unwavering prophetic voice. He firmly rejected materialism, militarism, and racism as obstacles to authentic faith… He was a fearless and innovative defender of human rights.” —President Jimmy Carter
On 440 depleted acres in Sumter County, Georgia, a young Baptist preacher and farmer named Clarence Jordan gathered a few families and set out to show that Jesus intended more than spiritual fellowship. Like the first Christians, they would share their land, money, and possessions. Working together to rejuvenate the soil and the local economy, they would demonstrate racial and social justice with their lives.
Black and white community members eating together at the same table scandalized local Christians, drew the ire of the KKK, and led to drive-by shootings, a firebombing, and an economic boycott.
This bold experiment in nonviolence, economic justice, and sustainable agriculture was deeply rooted in Clarence Jordan’s understanding of the person and teachings of Jesus, which stood in stark contrast to the hypocrisy of churches that blessed wars, justified wealth disparity, and enforced racial segregation. “You can’t put Christianity into practice,” Jordan wrote, “You can’t make it work. As desperately as it is needed in this poor, broken world, it is not a philosophy of life to be ‘tried.’ Nor is it a social or ethical ideal which has tantalized humankind with the possibility of attainment. For Christianity is not a system you work – it is a Person who works you.”
This selection from his talks and writings introduces Clarence Jordan’s radically biblical vision to a new generation of peacemakers, community builders, and activists.
"The power of Clarence Jordan's words comes mostly from the fact that he lived out the Gospel rather than just preaching it, and he did that with courage and a sense of humor." -Don Mosley, founder, Jubilee Partners "Clarence Jordan spoke with an unwavering prophetic voice. He firmly rejected materialism, militarism, and racism as obstacles to authentic faith, yet he never took part in the public demonstrations of the civil rights era. He believed we could all affect greater change in this world through living an authentic Christian life." -President Jimmy Carter Here was a son of the Old South, a white Baptist minister doing what we were only talking about. I went to Koinonia to see it for myself and couldn't wait to leave because I was sure that the Klan would show up and kill us both. -Martin Luther King, Jr. The distinctive mark of Jordan...is the way in which he acted in costly and dangerous ways that embodied the cross; he walked the talk! -Walter Brueggemann We are lucky to have the legacy of such a man. For those of us who are hesitant to embrace Christ's suffering, we have an example. For those of us who struggle as part of a young community of Christ to see our place in history, we have encouragement. His vision has endured. -Joyce Hollyday, author of Pillars of Fire I can critique some of the things Clarence Jordan believed about the Bible, but I cannot critique the way he lived it. This collection of writings from a too-often-forgotten sage is a gift to all of us at a time when we need models of costly courage and conviction. -Russell Moore, Baptist preacher and theologian, Christianity Today Clarence Jordan has you saying "Amen" one minute and thinking "I'm not sure about that" the next. He guarantees thoughtful interaction with his practical application of the Bible, which clearly comes from tending a farm. If Christians embraced at least some of his ideas, we'd have a different effect on our world: less hypocrisy and more action. Jordan sharpens us to our great benefit; read him and think. -Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm Flannery O'Conner famously said that her native South was 'Christ-haunted.' But for Clarence Jordan, Jesus was more than a ghost. He was a living presence in the poor and rejected, inviting us into beloved community as a real and practical alternative to the plantation economy. Jordan's words are as relevant today as when he delivered them. -Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of Revolution of Values Few have lived, spoken, and written with such power, depth, and simplicity about Christian discipleship as Clarence Jordan did. His life is a testimony and a provocation to what God's love for the whole world demands of us today. The Inconvenient Gospel is an essential book. It will inspire and challenge those willing to take its message to heart. -Norman Wirzba, Duke Divinity School Clarence Jordan cultivated a demonstration plot of God's kingdom at Koinonia Farm. Now, with The Inconvenient Gospel, we have field notes from that experiment. Wise and often witty, Jordan's words are a call to join God's mission, even on our home soil where loving our enemies and our neighbors may be the same thing. Whenever I need a reminder of what it means to follow Jesus, I'll reach for this book. -Ragan Sutterfield, author of Wendell Berry and the Given Life In living a life of radical discipleship informed by the Sermon on the Mount (and paying the price for it), Clarence Jordan may be closest thing we have to an American Bonhoeffer. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where Jordan was read and admired, but too few today know of this Southern prophet. I'm heartened by the publication of The Inconvenient Gospel, to introduce a new generation of readers to Jordan's unique and prophetic voice. -Brian Zahnd, author of When Everything's on Fire Dallas Lee said of Clarence Jordan, "The promise of something wise or something fun or just something good to know danced in this man's eyes." That wisdom, that fun, that good dances in his words too. Every chapter of this book illustrates that. As a member of the koinonia Clarence cofounded, I'll return to these pages as a guide, but anyone reading them can expect to be challenged and perhaps even changed. -Bren Dubay, director, Koinonia Farm I'm impressed that this book isn't just about Clarence - it is Clarence. His clear insights and simple presentation make the gospel come to life. He once wrote, "What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but coworkers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable and just way of divesting themselves of their overabundance." That insight gave birth to the affordable housing movement-surely the most far reaching of Clarence's many gifts to the world. -David Snell, president & co-founder of The Fuller Center for Housing An excellent introduction to this significant man, who faced death threats and confrontations with the Ku Klux Klan. Jordan's texts will challenge readers as they point to the radical nature of Christianity which, he argued, requires believers to live out their faith in ways that run counter to-and even confront-the society and culture around them. -Library Journal If, like me, you sometimes become distraught as you think of the work still needed to heal the church, you should read The Inconvenient Gospel. Reading the life and words of Clarence Jordan refreshed my soul like a morning rain, filling me with hope and inspiration to keep fighting for God's perfected church where we are neither Jew nor Greek but all are one in Christ Jesus. The Inconvenient Gospel is a lightning-strike reminder for the family of God to stand firm against the racism that still plagues the body of Christ, by living out koinonia in our daily lives. -Anika T. Prather, Howard University Plough has done it again! This particular book is a welcome addition to their "Spiritual Guides" series. Seriously, order the whole set-it's an incredible collection of great hearts and minds, and each work includes a distilled biography and introduction along with a treasury of primary source material from each author. -Brad Jersak, Clarion Journal Offering a biblical vision for a new generation of peacemakers, community builders, and activists, The Inconvenient Gospel features a selection of Jordan's talks and writings on nonviolence, economic justice, racial reconciliation, sustainable agriculture, and more. -Publisher's Weekly In bold opposition to the hypocrisy of churches that condoned racism, militarism, and economic inequality, Jordan brought together a community which proved through its life that a different way was possible. Koinonia's lasting impact is a model for those seeking to live out the gospel in our day. -Christian Century