Friendly Witness: The Spiritual Ground of Quaker Social Action4th mo. 19, 2023 from 1pm to 6pm
Quaker Theological Discussion Group 202312th mo. 1, 2023 at 8am to 12th mo. 2, 2023 at 10am
Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Just read George Fox autobiography. There is a man who believed the Word of God enough to get moving for God -- and enough to stand against the established religion of the day. He condemned Anglican priests as "hirelings" and insisted that the Lord Himself would teach the believer. Not surprisingly he suffered great opposition - imprisonment and beatings - for standing up for the Word of God against the heresies of the day.
What is the heresy of established religion today? There are probably many, but I have encountered one in particular as I lead music for Methodist Church in rural North Carolina. It well known that many seminaries are turning out pastors who no longer believe the Word of God. They are not forthright about it because their congregations wouldn't accept them if they knew. In fact, the congregations are more faithful to the Word of God than their leaders.
Poses problems in denominations where the pastors cycle through churches, and leadership is responsible for choosing their pastors for them.
I was encouraged to attend a Bible Study called, DISCIPLE. This is a widely popular Bible study
In this study, which is supposed to take the Christian through the entire Bible, I discovered that denomination is pushing theories that run counter to the clear meaning of the Biblical text. And doing so as if it were established fact.
For example, in ISAIAH - one of the most remarkable prophetic books which deals with the kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon and their exiling God's people - in order to explain away the supernatural - they say, there were several Isaiahs - writing over hundreds of years.
Another example, in DANIEL - in which prophesies cover the rise and fall of four world powers as well as the coming of the Christ and the end times -- they don't even cover Daniel's prophesies in the DISCIPLE STUDY but instead cover the fiery furnace account - a bedtime story compared to the book's powerful prophesies.
Finally, JONAH -- DISCIPLE STUDY lumps together the mid-eighth century prophet, Jonah, with the post-exilic writings of Ezra saying Jonah was influenced by Ezra's xenophobia. But the Bible says Jonah was a contemporary of Jeroboam II.
What has this review of the DISCIPLE STUDY got to do with anything? Well, for one thing, the Methodist church is about to formalize their heresy. The split of the Methodist church which is likely to happen formally in 2022 - is likely to result in a slicing away of Bible-believers - likely only 20% of Methodist churches are still led by conservative pastors - though a majority of their congregations are still conservative.
Just as George Fox stood against errors of the 17th century - all Bible-believing Christians - not just Quakers - need to stand against the lies of the errant church. Perhaps it is time for all of us to follow the methods of George Fox (as well as the methods of the early Methodist movement) and take it to the streets.
I respect the experience of the Jews who described God as a 'wrathful God'. I respect the experience of the church leaders that selected the texts that became the Bible. It is not my experience, now. Nor is it the experience of the Quakers among whom I found my spiritual home.
Being expected to sing hymns that expressed ideas that were not mine was one of my reasons for leaving the church of my parents at 18. I joined the Quakers 5 years later (among other things) because Quaker worship (in Western Europe) doesn't imply that risk.
With f&Friendly greetings,
"Declension" should be "decline".
Please have a look at my "Secularization for the sake of religion" for my perspective on that 'decline', that is more pronounced in my country than in yours.
With f&Friendly greetings,
Wim wrote: "Your trials and tribulations when trying to document your contribution may serve to guide you to speak from own experience rather than invoking the authority of other people's writings?"
I usually quote others because they express certain ideas better than I can myself. And so it is with that elusive Anglican bishop whose name failed to come to me even in my sleep! I first read his powerful observation about the difficulty of telling inner light from outer darkness in the writings of John McCandless, a keen Quaker thinker. I then found a theological treatise by said Anglican cleric, and immediately bought it! A move to my childhood home and then to a nearby farm, both several states away, leaves me with most of my library still boxed up; the mystery Anglican's theological treatise is presumably in one of the shipping containers here on the farm!
We dare not discount what discerning Christians, including scholars, have learned in the past. Times do change and our ideas of God also change, but we are fundamentally in the same condition our ancestors were in centuries ago. And, at the risk of trying your patience, I want once more to recommend James Kugel's The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times. This is a book that will move beyond your own limited insights. Both Wim and Coleen could learn much from it that would carry them out of their own limited "boxes". And the good news is that it is available in hardcover on Amazon for a mere $6.00 US currency. https://www.amazon.com/Great-Shift-Encountering-Biblical-Times/dp/0...
I looked up this review of Kugel's book. Where does it move beyond my insights, according to you? What is the box that you see limiting me?
Yes, humanity is in the same condition as its ancestors in Biblical times. So religions of all ages repeat the same fundamental message in various words which has taught religious people of all times to be "humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout", but not what to do in their exact spot and time. That is what we need discernment and direct inspiration for.
With f&Friendly greetings,
And not only that, Wim, but even if you do everything right, is it enough? The Sermon on the Mount shows that even entertaining an uncharitable thought, in God's eyes, makes one guilty before the law -- (how many times have I been guilty of that - e.g. when on the road next to a rude or dangerous driver). That's why we needed a Savior.
Still, it would be nice to hear a synopsis of the highlights from Kugels book.
But you are not alone, Wim, in desiring a form of religion but denying the power thereof.
It appears to be yet another indication that the Bible has accurately described these times.
In fact, here are some evidences that the fourth kingdom spoken of by Daniel is imminent - if it isn't already here.
The internet has made it possible for a government unlike any other to arise. (the internet makes privacy nearly impossible for the whole world.)
And then look at the nation of Israel. How peculiar are they? A people who returned to the land after being in exile for two thousand years. A people who have revived an ancient (dead) language.
Who has ever heard of such a thing - and yet if the prophesies of Daniel are to happen -- Israel must be in the land - and a temple must be rebuilt.
Finally, the one prophesy - that insures us that we are on solid ground if we believe Jesus was sent by God to be our Savior: Daniel 9 - tells us that roughly 483 years after a decree goes out to rebuild Jerusalem (destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar) that the Son of Man would come.
When was that decree? There are several dates given in the Bible of various decrees made by Cyrus and Darius (the Persians and Medes who conquered Babylon and allowed the Jewish people to return to the land in the very detailed accounts of Ezra and Nehemiah.
- 538 B.C. – Cyrus the Great issued a decree to free the Jews to return to Judea to build the Temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-4, 6:1-5).
- 517 B.C. – King Darius confirmed this decree of Cyrus (Ezra 6:6-12).
- 458 B.C. – King Artaxerxes authorized Ezra to lead a contingent of Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11-26).
- 445-444 B.C. – Artaxerxes authorized Nehemiah to repair the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3; 2:4-8).
Whichever starting date -- All of them are roughly 400 years before the coming of Jesus Christ -- who, by the way, fulfilled a lot of other Old Testament prophesies as well -- who his ancestors would be, the place of his birth are two important ones. There are chapters that describe the suffering servant -- Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 etc.
Also, the wise men from the East who saw the star - obviously put two and two together -- and they came looking for one thing in particular... the one born King of the Jews.
So, if He came - according to God's plan -- to pay the price - so we could be at peace with God -- how perverse is it to resist him -- and judge HIM.
And what an evil idea -- to try to secularize the saving work of God.
With feet firmly planted in rebellion against your maker. How can you expect the inner light to be anything but "outer darkness".
I am laying it on you the way George Fox would have. He didn't pull punches. But I'm telling you the truth.
You ask: "if you do everything right, is it enough?" Doing a right thing implies 'contributing to the Kingdom' to me, rather than 'staying within law/rules' (like in 'being sufficiently charitable, even in one's thoughts'). With 'heeding promptings of love and truth' as pointer towards what is 'right'.
I understand prophesies as meant for those who were directly addressed and intended to change their behaviour at that moment. Jona learnt the hard way that need not come true when those addressed heed them.
You call 'trying to secularize the saving work of God' an evil idea. If that is your summary of my "Secularization for the sake of religion" after reading it you completely missed my point. It doesn't feel very respectful of the experience that I described there. Maybe you only read (and misunderstood) the title?
With f&Friendly greetings,
I followed the link the first time didn't get much past the first page.
I followed it again, but frankly -- the jargon is not meant to be easily understood -- probably because if people did it would make them angry.
There is nothing good in the ecumenicism or the World Council of Churches. It is quite apart from true religion - or relationship to the Creator -- everything is about manipulating people, institutions, to achieving their goals.
You should read what God has to say about how the real church will be treated in the last days. “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. John 15:20
..."In my name sake"
However, the real losers are those who fail to give everything in order to have a relationship with the living God. Because life is short and eternity is at stake.
And God is good.