Early Quakers and the testimony that Christian churches turned from the "living Gospel."

In the article:

Preaching Truth and Listening for Truth: Early Quaker Mary Fisher and Prospects for Interreligious Dialogue

http://esrquaker.blogspot.com/2013/11/preaching-truth-and-listening...

The author writes:

Today, very few Quakers of any branch of the Religious Society of Friends would uphold the early Quaker view that other Christian churches had been apostate from the second century forward.

Is this statement true?

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The claim that "other Christian churches [were] apostate from the second century" [onward] seems like a sweeping generalization to me.  I would want to see the evidence in detail before I could subscribe to it.

Furthermore, I don't like the idea of denouncing others for heresy and/or apostasy, even though I would probably think there is some validity to such claims.  Denouncing others for religious error doesn't seem like a good way to make a witness for Christ.

 As much as possible, let's keep our witness positive!

Keith - No I do not think that statement is true, if by apostasy you mean turning from the living gospel that Christ taught here in his ministry on Earth. The churches added practises that pulled people away from the understanding that Christ alone could teach them, and misled them into believing that ordinances brought them closer to God and could in fact save their souls. I don't know of a Christian church today, aside from Friends, that doesn't continue to teach the same. The damage done to Christs mission here on Earth cannot be overestimated when people fail to understand that Christ is living and within them and salvation is simply a matter of turning to him. Period.

I believe that other Conservative Friends today would agree, at least OYM members would agree with this statement.

Barb

Hello William,

Isaac Penington speaks definitively on the issue of apostasy throughout his writings. Perhaps his "The Way of Life and Death made Manifest and Set before Men " is a cornerstone document concerning his statements on apostasy. In this document, he clearly states apostasy began in the apostle's days and that it came to fruition not long after. I haven't gleaned a specific delineation in the early Quaker writings that apostasy was consummated from the second century forward. I am not so much concerned with specific times ... it is clear that the early Quakers experienced Christianity as apostate and that Quakers represented a remnant admonishing a return to "the true and one religion" of the "primitive" Church.

What struck me is the author's contention that  " ... very few Quakers ... would uphold the early Quaker view that other Christian churches had been apostate ..."  The writer is surely suggesting that renunciation of this early Quaker view is progressive. 

Certainly, the term "apostasy" has baggage that gets in the way of meaning. The unique early Quaker message is a deepening down in the Holy Spirit so that each individual is anchored in and identifies with the inward Spirit; through the historic sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ resulting in the coming of the Comforter. This is an inner testimony away from bondage to the "outward" so that externals, manifested in all forms, are but pottage. Fundamentally, this experience is a renewal of the mind away from "tuition" to intuition; the intuitive intellect guided by the leadings of the Spirit within rather than being quided by external principles manifested in and through individual and institutions. Early Quakerism is iconoclastic. Apostasy (in the Quaker context), in its purity, is merely a bending of the intellect and individual consciousness back again toward the "outward" and focus lost on the inner Guide through intuitive intellect.

I am not interested in being judgmental in a negative way; just in whether it is a fact that "very few" Quakers uphold the view that "Christian churches" are "outward." I'm not interested in condemning. It is clear to me that, generally speaking, Christian churches are outward ... just an observational fact.   I affirm the early Quaker testimony concerning Christian churches and I'm curious whether Quakers today share and affirm the early Quaker testimony concerning Christian churches or whether they affirm the writer's contention?


William F Rushby said:

The claim that "other Christian churches [were] apostate from the second century" [onward] seems like a sweeping generalization to me.  I would want to see the evidence in detail before I could subscribe to it.

Furthermore, I don't like the idea of denouncing others for heresy and/or apostasy, even though I would probably think there is some validity to such claims.  Denouncing others for religious error doesn't seem like a good way to make a witness for Christ.

 As much as possible, let's keep our witness positive!

Thank you Barbara. Your words are cordial to my mind.

Barbara Smith said:

Keith - No I do not think that statement is true, if by apostasy you mean turning from the living gospel that Christ taught here in his ministry on Earth. The churches added practises that pulled people away from the understanding that Christ alone could teach them, and misled them into believing that ordinances brought them closer to God and could in fact save their souls. I don't know of a Christian church today, aside from Friends, that doesn't continue to teach the same. The damage done to Christs mission here on Earth cannot be overestimated when people fail to understand that Christ is living and within them and salvation is simply a matter of turning to him. Period.

I believe that other Conservative Friends today would agree, at least OYM members would agree with this statement.

Barb

Revisiting and Considering ... some thoughts

This was my first post upon joining this website. The question has been at the forefront of my mind in each ensuing post. My experiences and observations suggest that, generally speaking, it may be that case (as the author contends) that:

... very few Quakers of any branch of the Religious Society of Friends would uphold the early Quaker view that other Christian churches had been apostate ...

The early Quakers like Fox and Penington (and later Wilbur) used the term apostate to declare a turning away from a faith in the sufficiency of the immediate and inward (individual - whether in a group setting or no) presence of Christ unhinged from outward institutional, ideological, or scriptural forms. The early Quaker experience, and those who share the same experience today, knew and know a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by the immediacy of the presence of Christ. We rest in this Presence as sufficient for guidance and spiritual instruction; no longer anchored in and informed by outward forms and practices (Please see further Fox's Testimony and that of Penington. Also the discussion found in "John Wilbur and immediacy or The Way Not Mediated" is particularly instructive.

With regard to Quakers, It may well be the case that very few Quakers (relatively speaking) share the early Quaker faith in the sufficiency of a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by the immediate presence of Christ, although, there are certainly a number (perhaps a remnant) who do. 

There are those who know a faith in the sufficiency of a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by the immediate presence of Christ.

There are those who do not know and/or deny a faith in the sufficiency of a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by the immediate presence of Christ.

There are those laboring at different places between.

I share the early Quaker experience that, generally speaking, Protestant churches turned, at some point, from a faith in the sufficiency of a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by the immediate presence of Christ, toward a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by outward religious institutions, practices, and scripture. It may well be the case that Wilbur's concern over Quakerism turning from its primitive faith in the sufficiency of a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by the immediate presence of Christ is realized.

Romans Chapter 14

I do not know where you, or anyone is in their walk with God.

I am called to serve.  I leave the judging to the one who knows the hearts of all.

We must never forget that we belong to each other.

 

Hello Rick,

If you are suggesting I am negatively judging those whose consciousness is anchored in and conscience informed by outward forms, you've misunderstood my intent. 

When you say: "I am called to serve." Am I being negatively judgmental against you if I say you said you are called to serve?

Likewise, when people say they do not have faith in the suffienceny of consciousness anchored in and conscience informed by the immediacy of the presence of Christ, am I being negatively judgmental to repeat it? Rick, it is possible to know much about a walk when individuals communicate their walk.



Keith Saylor said:

Hello Rick,

If you are suggesting I am negatively judging those whose consciousness is anchored in and conscience informed by outward forms, you've misunderstood my intent. 

When you say: "I am called to serve." Am I being negatively judgmental against you if I say you said you are called to serve?

Likewise, when people say they do not have faith in the suffienceny of consciousness anchored in and conscience informed by the immediacy of the presence of Christ, am I being negatively judgmental to repeat it? Rick, it is possible to know much about a walk when individuals communicate their walk.

Good morning Keith

It could well be that I "misunderstood your intent"

In all honesty, after a read, re-read and a final read I a still at a loss for what the intent actually is.

"called to serve"... I suppose what  you call "consciousness anchored in and conscience informed by the immediacy of the presence of Christ" I know it  as a "new heart"

I don't know if you are being "negatively judgmental" or not.  That's between you and God.

Peace to you, Keith

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