George Fox and the other first Quakers - From Recommendation to Imposition.

George Fox, in his Journal, records that God led him to "recommend" established and settled Meetings. He then set out to successfully see this recommendation through. In the course of sharing this recommendation, it happened, that George Fox, and those first Quakers who followed his recommendation, went beyond his leading from recommendation to imposition of settled outward forms over against the consciences of other first Quakers who were once in unity with him. This impostition took the form of denigration, labeling, intimidation, and, in extreme cases, excommunication of those whose Conscience in the Light did not conform with Fox's recommendation toward adherence to outward forms. Fox perverted God's recommendation through imposition. William Rogers a contemporary Quaker to George records in his "historical manuscript" "The Christian Quaker ..." the nature of the disunity that happened because of Fox's transition from recommendation to imposition. Rogers records that another first Quaker, John Story (among the valiant 60) often shared the observation that even early Christians were beset with disunity over adherence to outward forms. Rogers and those first Quakers, who for conscience sake, would not conform to Fox's recommendation and who later spoke out against Fox's imposition of a recommendation from God, also for conscience sake, explicitly stated that they had been led out of the process, practice, and method of seeking unity in and through outward institutional forms. These other first Quakers testified to the witness of the Gathering's original unity in a conscience and conscious established in the experience of the sufficiency of the inshining Light itself in itself as the sole and complete source of the unity between the Children of Light; without regard for or adherence to any outward political or religious ideology or institution. They witnessed unity without regard to outward principle. In this witness, they expereinced the power of the inshining Light to transcend variance, in the midst of outward variance, because their identity was not established by and in outward principle but in the direct awareness or the inshining Light as the source of their identity. This immanent inshining identity manifested long-suffering, patience, and toleration out of the fear of stepping upon the prerogative of the inshining Light of Christ itself working in the conscience of each person. For the sake conscience, these other first Quakers would not impose outward leadings or forms on their brothers and sisters so as to become a stumbling block to the inshining workings of the Spirit itself in itself in the conscience of others.

It is the nature of imposed outward forms, even recommendations from God through the conscience of others, to nurture, foster, and grow, variance or the opposite of those things recommended. In essence, the source of disunity is the process of professing, embracing, and imposing, meaning, purpose, and identification with outward political and religious forms and institutions. The moment George Fox and those who followed him set out to impose and settle their outward institutional and theological and ideological constructs over against the consciences of other Children of Light, they laid the foundation for the Quaker schismatic history.

Christ is certainly come and is coming. Rogers writes that the first Quakers in the inshining of the Light in the conscious and conscience lived the second coming of Christ in the conscience. This inshining Eternal Power ever makes appearance and we voice out loud, as the first Children of Light so voiced,

"TO YOUR OWN, TO YOUR OWN, TO YOUR OWN. Meaning thereby they should turn in their minds to the Light of Christ in their conscience, which was declared to be that teacher, which could never be removed into a corner, ... For no doubt but the Spirit of the Lord, revealed unto those first labourers in the Gospel, that there was a proneness in the Sons and daughters of Men, to admire, depend upon, and sometimes (through an affectionate part or blind Zeal) to worship such as were instruments, to give forth outward Directories, or Church Faiths ... therefore I am persuaded that the voice of Truth through them was not only thus, viz. To your own (which being observed, leads into independency upon others) but also frequently on this wise, We preach not our selves, look not unto us."
Source: The Christian Quaker ... William Rogers, Preface, page 38.

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 12, 2016 at 8:57am

You put in a typo, but meant: "... The moment George Fox and those who followed him set out to impose and settle their outward institutional and theological and ideological constructs over against the consciences of other Children of Light, they laid the foundation for the Quaker schismatic history..."

Anyway, given that your quotation says "We preach not our selves, look not unto us", why are you (seemingly putting their testimony out there for people to look unto?

My own experience has been increasingly telling me something like the following:

The outward institutional forms of Quakerism offer a rich framework a group might employ in following the guidance of the Spirit; but people in practice seem more inclined to apply them as a substitute for God's immediate guidance.

It's not that Meetings don't continue to receive guidance; but they're crawling where they might walk. Members do know God, but don't "own" God as the source of what they're following; hence they come out sounding earnestly clueless, like couples too shy to say "Isn't there something we're supposed to do now?"

Comment by Keith Saylor on 12th mo. 12, 2016 at 2:32pm
Hello Forrest,

Thanks you spelling making me aware of the spelling error. I corrected it among a couple of other things.

You asked me:
"Anyway, given that your quotation says "We preach not our selves, look not unto us", why are you (seemingly putting their testimony out there for people to look unto?"

I understand you believe you have caught me in a contradiction. However, as I have responded to many other such queries from you, there is a fundamental (essential) difference between testifying to the witness that the direct experience of the inshining Light in the conscience is sufficient itself in itself to guide, rule, and government and that sufficiency is only known through direct immediate experience without regard to outward forms or the people expressing those forms and the testimony of looking to the Brethren or community to guide, rule, and govern. The former steps aside while the latter interjects themselves and their institutional forms as mediators. The former is not a mediator as they give deference to the prerogative of the inshining Light as mediator. To give further context, Rogers shares the original testimony that the witness of the first Quakers did not look to the Brethren when their consciences were not in agreement. They rested and waited in the inshining Light in the midst of variance or disagreement. Their variance did not inform their consciences, and thereby manifest disunity, because they shared the same experience of the direct experience of inshining immanent Presence as the only source of their gathering together. However, George Fox and those who followed him (like Barclay, Penn, and Fell) called for those in the gathering who did not agree with them to "look to the Brethren" (that is, look to them) and conform to their newly recommended outward notional and institutional constructs even though their conscience did not share duty to their outward constructs or whose conscience was in outright contradiction to that of George Fox. This admonishment to look to the Brethren represented a divergence from the original inshining Witness that by the power of the inward appearance in their conscience the Children of the Light were led out of the very process, activity, and practice of their conscious being anchored in and their conscience informed by outward protestant and catholic leaders, institutions, theologies, or ideologies. That George Fox and his followers had begun professing and admonishing the gathering of the Children of Light to look to the outward institutions they were establishing represented Fox leading the gathering back into the very process, practice, and methodology for guidance and governance that they were lead out of by the power of the inshining experience of the sufficiency of the immanent Presence itself in itself to rule and govern the gathering without regard for any and all outward institutions and leaders. In essence, the unique message (in relationship to protestantism and catholicism) manifested in the original experience of the Quakers was the knowledge through the inshining Light in their conscience that their was another way of being or consciousness and of being gathered that rested completely and sufficiently in direct immanent experience of the Light itself in itself. They came to know a way of being that did not look to any outward leaders or institutions or ideological constructs and thereby came to know peace and unity even in the midst of variance.

Sharing the testimony of the sufficiency of the inshining Light that is experienced directly without regard to outward forms and to not look to any person or institution to govern or rule but to the Light itself in itself in the conscience is not affirming outward forms. It is, in essence, a testimony to the Witness that the inshining Light itself in itself will lead out of identity with any outward form. It is the Testimony to the Witness that human being can be led out of identity with the process and practice of identification with outward form.

You Wrote:

"The outward institutional forms of Quakerism offer a rich framework a group might employ in following the guidance of the Spirit; but people in practice seem more inclined to apply them as a substitute for God's immediate guidance."

It is my testimony to the Witness that it is of the very nature of outward institutional forms, Quaker or otherwise, that in the very act or practice of employing outward frameworks, under the pretense of them fostering and following the guidance of the Spirit, is, in itself, a substitute for God's immediate guidance. The dynamic is not one of relatively helpful outward forms being misapplied by flawed individuals who substitute outward forms for immediate guidance. The flaw is in the outward Quaker (and all other) institutions and leaders themselves who profess and encourage the employment of and participation in outward frameworks. There is another way wherein God's immediate guidance is the form and framework in itself and there is no need or value in employing outward institutional forms to follow the guidance of the Spirit. To re-state, the very act of employing outward forms is a substitute for immediate guidance and represents being led by outward leaders or leading oneself out of immediate guidance.

With that said, I acknowledge you and others find enrichment in employing frameworks created in the context of outward Quaker institutional forms even while you acknowledge the flaws inherent in the activity. This way you profess is not, in essence, any different from the various religious traditions and frameworks profess through the history of man. There were Quakers who testified to a different Witness and would not be led back into outward institutional forms, even those forms that other Quakers established in the latter days of the early history of the gathering of the Children of Light. They would not be led into the newly established forms merely because they had a problem with the particular forms recommended but because they witnessed the very practice of establishing outward institutional forms went against the very nature of their experience of the sufficiency of the inshining Light itself in itself as the sole and complete guidance in the conscience and conscious. This witness is one of a new way of being or consciousness or mind wherein identity, meaning, and purpose, happened in and through immediate and immanent inshining Presence itself it itself, leading the Children of Light out of relationship with outward institutional forms at all.

Finally, I also appreciate the subtle and valid point that you and others value outward Quaker institutional forms to the extent these forms offer a framework through with people may go about doing or employing a particular guidance of the Spirit. Both Fox and Rogers acknowledged this was very substance or value of Fox's recommendation from God. I do not question that Fox was led to recommend institutional forms to assist the realization of particular guidances from God. I also do not question other first and early Quakers who were led or recommended by God in their conscience to not follow God's recommendation to Fox. It is a reality that, in the latter days of early Quakerism, a variance happened within the Quaker gathering wherein many Quakers re-turned to and found value in outward institutional forms and some others would not be led back again into a form of religious participation and practice that they were led out of.

Personally, I do not share or follow Fox's recommendation but do share the recommendation and testimony of other early and first Quakers who did not support the establishment, encouragement, and literal enforcement, of newly recommended forms amongst the gathering of the Children of Light. I share the testimony and recommendation of other first and early Quakers who voiced the turning from all institutional forms and coming into the direct experience of the Light itself in itself as sole and sufficient guide and framework in all things and activities in this world without regard to or for any institution or the professors of such outward institutions.
Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 12, 2016 at 7:36pm

I see a couple different issues here:

1) Does God intend each person to experience 'His' presence in the same way. I think not, given that we seem to end up using different words to describe WhatItIs. Perhaps in the future; but at least our current experience sounds different (in detail if not in essence.)

2) Does God intend people to rely on 'Him' rather than substitute physical 'signs', emotions, ideas or practices? On this one I'm pretty sure we do agree God does -- except I'd say that God's inspiration and the various accessory means people do accept are not at all disjoint!

So far as people are reluctant or afraid to rely on God -- however God may choose to communicate-with/inspire/enlighten them -- We agree that any means of "testing leadings" is misguided. We have a sense of God's nature (beside and beyond any ideas we have of it) more authentic than any divine credentials we might ask to check.

People have, however, been wrong about God's intention -- not wrong about God intending good for us, but wrong about what that good really looks like, and about what they need to do to assist/enable/receive it.

James Naylor is the favorite Quaker bad example (although my own take on him is not the common one.) But the fact is, there have been a multitude of bad (or at least inadequate!) ideas attributed to God, then clung to with great mistaken devotion. (If nothing else, how about the idea that a committee might know your leading better than you do...?)

You'd say, (as I understand it): People don't need to be guided by ideas -- but suppose someone truly sees God's fingerprints on an idea?

People generally walk where they see a clear path, think what makes sense to them, respond emotionally to what they feel. Was God mistaken in making people so as to function in that way?

Comment by Keith Saylor on 12th mo. 13, 2016 at 2:40pm
Hello Forrest,

This question from you captured my attention.

"People generally walk where they see a clear path, think what makes sense to them, respond emotionally to what they feel. Was God mistaken in making people so as to function in that way?"

People generally (they readily admit) are generally identified with, their conscious is anchored in, and their conscience is informed by, "physical signs, emotions, ideas, or practices." Your question "Was God mistaken in making people so as to function in that way?" assumes God made people to function that way. I'm not prepared to concede that assumption to you. However, at the same time, I am not suggesting your assume is incorrect.

To expand on my hesitancy over your assumption, I read your question this way "Was immanent Presence mistaken in making people so as to function that way?" I do not know immanent Presence as (the article 'a' purposely not included) Being distinct from Being. In immanent Presence, I am. Immanent Being is a source of identity that anchors conscious and informs conscience. During those times when Being becomes a Being and my conscious becomes anchored in and my conscience informed by physical signs, emotions, ideas, or practices Being is no longer anchored in and informed by immanent Presence. In these cases, I am no longer immanent Presence and in immanent Presence. The act of being identified with outward physical signs, emotions, ideas, or practices, is the act and practice of Being that is outside immanent Presence and Being immanent Presence.

This gets to my hesitancy. What if is the case that God did not make people's conscious to be anchored in and their conscience to be informed by outward physical signs, emotions, ideas, or practices? What if people (human being) at some point just "generally" turned away from immanent Presence (God) and just began to actively participate in and become informed by outward physical signs, emotions, ideas, or practices? What if this way of participation is not of relationship with immanent Presence at all so that this outward way of being was literally outside of immanent Being? What if God had or has nothing to do with this type of outward participation so that this type of participation is completely outside of God?

To ask again. What if this type of outward participation is a way of existence this not of God ... not even the stuff of God? This then brings me to reflect upon the whole of Hebrews chapter eight. "They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things."

What if this outward participation is living in a mere shadow that is not of heavenly things?
Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 14, 2016 at 8:46am

Where did the universe of outward physical signs, emotions, ideas & etc come from?

"Being" is not merely 'the screen of this movie'; it also creates the mix of consistency and spontaneity that plays on that screen: what we call 'a world'.

To be 'in a world' is to be subject to its laws and (to some extent) able to affect it. To be 'in the World but not of it' would mean to not-cling to particular states of it, to 'real'ize that what happens there is determined ultimately by God (immanent within it and its events, but also transcending its system of causal influence.)

?

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