Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?

So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, you will know them by their fruits.

===============

Josephus complained bitterly about people who called themselves 'prophets' during the build-up of the first Jewish Revolt against Rome; these would lead a group of people out into the wilderness, or up the Mount of Olives or Mt Gerizim (the Samaritan holy site) or across the Jordan, promising to lead them into a new Exodus in which the pagans would be driven out and Israel freed from slavery to them... 

Josephus took a dim view of any popular movement, being an aristocrat from a prominent priestly family himself -- a man who seemingly failed to understand why the rebel groups he nominally commanded would want to burn the tax & debt records in any city they took. But these people and the tradition they came from did seem to be bad news, continually expecting God to confirm and follow their interpretations of Israel's prophesied destiny, according to schedules they calculated from diligent and wrong-headed attention to their scriptures -- and the result of their efforts was always violent repression by the Romans. 

One such revolt is said to have left 2000 insurrectionists crucified along the road that passed by Nazareth about the time Jesus was born. No doubt he heard about it, many times, as he was growing up.

Does this passage apply to anyone in our current times? Few of us believe in prophets anymore, but we are offered a wide array of futurists, politicians, and people who interpret the Bible in much the same way that Judean  revolutionaries once consulted it in search of 'the day and the hour' when God would finally do their will... instead of praying for a better sense of God's will.

And there are so very very many people -- who think they've figured out what evil needs to be perpetrated, in hopes some promised good will result...

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Without those disagreements, an internet list tends to run stale, at least to my mind. People tend to run out of things they haven't already heard from each other.

Yes, the arguments get superficial -- largely, I think, because too many people participate in an instant-counterattack mode:

Without actually reading anyone's mind but my own -- I find I need to guard against reading a response with my mind in 'What am I gonna say back?!' mode.

I believe I see the same process at work in other people, and it interferes with people actually understanding each other across the divisions.

One really devastating effect of this methodology -- is that people believe they're understanding each other when they are not -- and automatically argue against what they believe the other person means, instead of what they've in fact said. Which never gets noticed in the rush!

I think what could be considered a weakness is essential to the dialogue here to create understanding of each others positions.  My experience in some churches is that there is not only no room for dialogue but instantaneous judgment when different terminology is used and sometimes even when a dialogue is attempted.

On another note I hope you are going to join us again for the NECCF at Powell House on the weekend of Nov. 20th.  Stella sends her love.
 
William F Rushby said:

Hello again!

I have one additional observation.  I participate in both QuakerQuaker and MennoDiscuss.  MernnoDiscuss is a conservative-leaning, but not ultra-conservative (they don't participate in Internet dialogue), Mennonite forum.

In comparing the two fora, I note that MennoDiscuss participants operate from a mostly common Biblical frame of reference; this is true for both ethnic Mennonites and converts.  They may disagree about many things, but they use a common language and refer to common Biblical and historical texts.  It is significant of course that MennoDiscuss has a conservative bias.  If there were really liberal Mennonites involved, there would probably be fewer commonalities.

QuakerQuaker is also somewhat conservative as far as Quaker fora are concerned, but our discussion of prophets and prophecy shows that we operate from quite disparate assumptions.  Some of us think in terms of "secular" assumptions and secular literary sources, and others proceed from more traditional Quaker and Biblical premises.  Dialogue across these disparities tends to be superficial and "scattered".   The dialogue lacks a coherent ("centered") character.


 In urban meetings in particular, the primary time when participants see each other is the Sunday meeting for worship.  The Sunday meeting for worship is not a good opportunity for the kind of dialogue that has the potential for building a shared frame of reference.  In fact, in some meetings there are those who prefer a completely silent meeting for worship.

As I understand the situation, some years ago the Trappist monastic order gave up their ban on regular spoken interaction among the monks.  Some social scientist with an interest in group dynamics conducted a study comparing the level of satisfaction in one or more monasteries before the ban on spoken interaction was lifted, and after.  He found that the quality of relationships within the monastery improved significantly when the monks were able to talk to each other.  What are the implications for Friends meetings, especially urban, unprogrammed meetings where contact occurs almost exclusively at the Sunday meeting for worship?

The two meetings I have belonged to have had scheduled Adult Discussions which provide time for sharing beliefs on various topics.  Plus we love to chat over snacks after meeting and I try to have other outside meeting interaction with my fellow quakers, including meals.

I have been thinking about this a lot. I think the trick is actually making FRIENDS with each other - calling each other on the phone, emailing book recommendations, texting each other about new restaurants and films, asking each other about work and marriage. Let's stop focusing on EVENTS and focus on RELATIONSHIPS. That is where love comes from. My dream for Friends of Jesus Fellowship, the Religious Society of Friends and the church at large, is that we can befriend each other in the name of Jesus, being part of the fabric of each others' lives and encouraging each other to greater faithfulness.

Breaking bread together is important.   Some churches elevate it to a sacrament and lose the essence of it.  But fellowship is essential and considered by many churches as one of the legs necessary to support a Christian life along with prayer (which is just fellowship with God) and the Bible.

Adria Gulizia said:

I have been thinking about this a lot. I think the trick is actually making FRIENDS with each other - calling each other on the phone, emailing book recommendations, texting each other about new restaurants and films, asking each other about work and marriage. Let's stop focusing on EVENTS and focus on RELATIONSHIPS. That is where love comes from. My dream for Friends of Jesus Fellowship, the Religious Society of Friends and the church at large, is that we can befriend each other in the name of Jesus, being part of the fabric of each others' lives and encouraging each other to greater faithfulness.

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