In his booklet “A Revolutionary Gospel,” Lewis Benson writes of three stages of work that seventeenth-century Friends undertook: the first in the sequence was turning people to Christ through preaching the Word (the substance of vocal ministry), which reached to the witness of God in others (convincing/convicting of sin); the second stage was settling and establishing the newly convinced, which entailed repentance and amendment of life; and the third was building on this newly laid foundation, thereby enabling the Church to form and become a witness to the society at large of the new order of righteous community.

Many in our liberal meetings today are not yet convinced—have not moved into the first stage—and therefore the second and third stages of development (settling and building) go largely undiscovered. The work for any who have been inwardly convicted of truth and have learned the necessity of silently watching for its promptings for guidance to speak in meeting have before them the work of the first stage: turning people to Christ, the truth, through giving voice to the power and spirit of the Lord that can reach to the witness of God in everyone. This was the vocal (gospel) ministry as it was at first, and is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Benson concludes the segment on stages of the work with a paragraph that reminds; reassures; and, yes, comforts us that our time is not the only time of mistaken notions of individualism:

A fairly large segment of first-generation Quakers misunderstood the nature of the Quaker revolution. They thought it was leading to an individualistic righteousness and a loose association of free-wheeling religious individualists. They failed to catch the vision of a great people gathered to God by Christ who would learn together, obey together, witness together and suffer together. However, faithful Friends, who had grown up in the truth, became builders of the new righteousness and the new community (p.11).

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Comment by Howard Brod on 3rd mo. 27, 2016 at 9:36pm

Hello again Patricia,

Before I discontinue this sharing of spiritual insights between us on this particular post, I want to let you know that I respect you, your early Friends research and knowledge, as well as your scriptural knowledge.  And I apologize if any of my responses have been personally hurtful to you in any way.  I have no doubt that you walk a spiritual life both inwardly and outwardly; caring deeply that others have the opportunity to choose to walk on your same spiritually path.  I have often enjoyed things you've shared on this forum in the past even though it has not always spoken to me; but often it does.  And I wouldn't want you to ever stop sharing your insights.

When you wrote to me, "So, Howard, here's one more example of how you fail to understand the tradition, the Scriptures, and the faith of the first Friends.", I must say that if I had stated that to myself, I would have stated it more like, "So, Howard, here's one more example of how you fail to fully accept the tradition, the Scriptures, and the faith of the first Friends."  That is more accurate and perhaps in your spiritual understanding puts me in an even worse position.  I was well versed in the Bible before coming to Friends 30 years ago, upon which I spent a number of subsequent years researching and studying the early Quakers.  Still, I will readily admit that my knowledge pales compared to yours.  But as you have no doubt picked up, "knowledge" is of little value to me in my spiritual walk; yet, intellectually I find your research and information fascinating and mentally stimulating.

I just am walking a different spiritual path than you and it has transformed my life immensely for the better - I have been made anew or born again to use Christian terminology.  And on my path I feel called to reject the personal faith you (and certainly others) put into "the tradition, the Scriptures, and the faith of the first Friends".  This being the case, as you have probably concluded, we would likely never come to agreement regarding our spiritual understandings on a more detailed level.  Still, I would like to enjoy spiritual unity with you as I do with devout Christians within my meeting.  I think that's entirely possible.  However, I suspect you might not think that possible.  I would be delighted if I am wrong about that.

For me, all of this does not diminish my admiration and value I place upon you.  I wish you well in your spiritual experiences and hope that one day we have the opportunity to meet in person.  I wish you continued Light and divine Love in your life, which I am certain you will have.

Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 3rd mo. 28, 2016 at 8:00am

Dear Howard,

I truly appreciate the clear good-will that bathes your words with a solemn beauty. I believe that you have found great peace and happiness in your meeting, which has been so welcome to you after the pain and suffering you experienced growing up in what must have been a very difficult situation. I have sometimes pondered and shuddered in my soul at this very wide-spread problem of young children exposed to the Christian tradition by either unknowing or power-hungry significant adults and communities. I ask how can they ever get past such deep, long-held inculcation that is a corruption. Though I had a benign, if pretty much low-key, cultural Christian upbringing, I have had an experience of a verse in Scriptures being used inappropriately, and I've never been able to think of that verse again as open to use by me in my gospel work. To think that the whole tradition could be corrupted for someone at a young age breaks my heart, and saddens me for the world in a way that is worse than physical violence, awful as that is. So, I understand and mourn that you suffered this. I don't know what to do about it. I speak the truth, and I know the validity of the tradition. These old Quakers live in me (rather what gave them Life also gives me Life), and I stand with them in a battle for the soul and continuation of God's creation, humanity knowing and thriving in truth, peace, and wisdom. I trust that God knows, and I pray and ask that my faith be increased, so that I can be more effective. I am happy that you have a community that gives you joy and place. I don't think of us as opposed. I will continue, however, with speaking the best insights and understanding that I have to those who seem willing or able to hear, and it will perhaps offend you. Know that I am working to bring in something new, something that hasn't been seen by most people. To do that I often need to convince by showing what's hidden and needs to be seen, which is what I was doing when I wrote about the verse about judging. I know this is difficult for you and for me both, but I'm also convinced it needs to be done. As Edward Burrough said, "Wo until us if we preach not the Gospel!" 

After a long, arduous climb, you have come to a peaceful place in your heart, a plateau where you rest for a time but must set out again, when you've seen an undeniable truth that some irritating, passing gospel minister pointed to--way up high. 

Patricia

 

Comment by Howard Brod on 3rd mo. 28, 2016 at 8:22am

Thank you Patricia for your words and understanding.  It is true that my childhood experiences were unpleasant, but more importantly they have allowed me to see the limitations and dangers that may occur from too much faith placed on structures and forms.  For this I am grateful.  And I am grateful that God in his mercy and wisdom uses everything for calling us all back home to him.

I do want to make sure you and others are aware that I do have a very personal relationship and respect for the person of Jesus.  I am not anti-Jesus at all.  It is just that I do not confine receiving an awareness of the divine Light to his person.  Perhaps you have already picked that up in reading my posts.  Or, perhaps I've not been clear enough about that. 

God bless you in your efforts to bring spiritual awareness, love, and peace via the person of Jesus to any willing listeners you might come across.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 3rd mo. 29, 2016 at 3:59am

This is a preface to my response to Patricia Dallmann's contentions that William Rogers was motivated to contend against George Fox's institutionalization of the gathering of the Children of Light because he could not abide, and found unacceptable, the possibility of women ruling over him through the institution of Women's Meeting. And specific characterizations of Rogers by Phyllis Mack who Patricia quotes.

There were other things posted that gave me great pause and manifested some dark forms on the horizon of my soul so that, in watchfulness, I recognized the need to enter into a time of deep and patient Quiet and to feel for the foundation of the inshining Light in my conscious and conscience. 

My response is long and multifaceted as it is my intent the share large chunks of Roger's own words, to give context, to Phyllis Mack's short quotations of Rogers. I have invested a great deal of time in research of Rogers book. It has been a blessing the I have been immersed in his book for some time now along with many of the other early and founding Quakers which made culling through Roger's book easier. With that said I have also given over my words under the guiding Presence of Christ in a spirit of watchfulness so that those previously mentioned dark forms would not rule and contaminate my response.

My intention is to show that, while Patricia's concern over bigotry and chauvinism relating to the institution of Women's Meeting is fair and valid, she has overstated her case in suggesting Rogers was motivated solely by bigotry to contend against George Fox's new order. 

Further, my intention was to lay down a solid, extensive, exhaustive, and thoughtful response that does not engage in personal attack, ridicule, and innuendo. I do not consider expressing a difference of conscience with George Fox, an attack on George Fox  nor am I attempting to diminish or denigrate him. However, Rogers is certainly attacking him. On this matter, I place myself under the guidance of Presence itself. It is my hope that the Spirit of Christ is manifested and advanced.

The guiding stop having been lifted, let's get to it. I leave it to the conscience of the reader. 

---End Preface

I begin with a large quote that includes one of Phyllis Mack's quotations of William Rogers. The quotations she uses will be underlined and in italics.

Roger Williams writes:

Thirdly, There is amongst many Friends, a Difference touching the Meetings of Women separate from Men, which though not hitherto treated on, yet it may not be improper to be spoken to on this Occasion.

But first, we think it necessary to answer this Question, which naturally seems to arise for the Information of the Reader, viz. How came those Meetings first to be held, and for what end?

To this we answer, the G. F. [George Fox] so far as we understood, exhorted thereto, and the End thereof (in sum) was to take care of the poor in some cases, the Meeters themselves according to their Freedom, raising Money, which caused the Charge to light much on some, who were most constant in Meeting, whilst others, for want of another Method to collect Monies, were very little concerned in the Charge of the poor. But in process of time, some Friends thought it necessary, that Marriages might be proposed to the Women’s Meetings; but yet several of those, who had appeared for those Distinct Meetings to be concerned, said “this is that which G.F. Exhorted to in the Beginning, and Blessed be the Lord the Faithful see a Necessity, and Cause to propose the Marriages to the Faithful Men and Women's Meetings; and whether their sight is not Dark, that see not the Necessity of proposing their Marriages to the Faithful Men and Women in their Distinct Meetings. This being uttered by those of party which G.F. (as we take them) was thought very strange, for that as divers Friends of Bristol have testified, G.F. proposed not his Marriages to the Women’s Distinct Meeting in Bristol (where his Marriage was accomplished) though such a Meeting was held there many years before. Besides, in a Paper of DIrection given forth by George Fox, he DIrects, that the men’s Meeting may be acquainted with Marriages, and saith nothing of proposing them to the Women’s Distinct Meetings; which clearly shows that those who writ the aforesaid answer and G. F. see not a Unity therein.

But this (as we suppose) not being known to many, some were very urgent to impose that Practice of Friends, or else to render such as Opposed Dark Spirits, which occasioned many Friends to be Jealous that a Submission was not only intended to Meetings of Men, but Women’s Meetings also, and therefore Friends, who in simplicity assented to the latter Meetings, as supposing Women in some cases fitter to pry into the necessities of the Poor, than Men (considering also what weak People have frequented Men’s Meetings) did at length begin to be Jealous, that the words of the Prophet Isaiah 3:12, were fulfilled in our Age, As for my People, Children are their Oppressors, and Women rule over them. Oh my People, they which lead thee, cause thee to Err.

This Jealousy increasing, many of those, who were contented that Women should hold their Meetings apart from the Men, to take care of the Poor in some Cases, became less affected to such Meetings, lest instead of being Servants to the Poor for the Truth's sake, and taking the Care and burden of that Care from the Men, they should become rulers over both Men and Women; and that which seemed to confirm the Reasonableness of the said Jealousy was this:

It hath been observed, that though Women’s Meetings were assented to, to take care of the Poor in some cases, as the chief, if not the only end thereof … tis now a Question with many, whether that be not one of the least Services intended at this day thereby … [ Keith’s note: Rogers here goes on to explain that in George Fox’s book on Women’s Meetings the “drift and scope of the Book seems to be chiefly” to broaden the role of Women’s Meeting beyond that of taking “care of the Poor in some cases.” Essentially, Rogers’ point is that many assented to the institution of Women’s Meeting for the purpose of caring for the Poor, however, many were advocating for an expanding beyond what was assented to].

“To conclude, … we have this further to say; so it is, that many Jarrs and Jangles have arisen touching Meetings of Women and the End and Service thereof: some think them useful in Cities, where many Poor are, and the Women Meeters near together; but yet divers of the same Persons think them useless in the Countries, where few Poor are, and the Women live Far asunder: and for ought we know, some observing the ill consequence, that hath attended them in divers Places, may think it had better they had never been held amongst us. For our parts, on the whole matter, we say, ‘tis a Shame for a Man to become an Instrument that Women’s Meeting should be held, (Chiefly if not only) under the pretence of serving, and relieving the Poor in some cases, more effectual then before, and yet publish a Book under the pretence of encouraging the said Meetings, whence it is thereby apparent, that some other End is now at least, if not from the Beginning, aimed at, that was manifested plainly in the Beginning.”

This, in short, seems not like plain dealing, and the Fruit thereof is manifested to be Evil: for many who have been as Pillars in those Meetings to this Day, have been reflected upon as Discouragers of the said Meetings, not because their Persons and Purses are wanting therein; but rather because they cannot be at Unity with such airy imaginations, which some (who, as they take it, seems Affectors of Government and Lovers of Preeminence) do go forth; concluding, they are entered in the Possession of the Power of God …

--- End Extract
Source: “The Christian Quaker …” by William Rogers, 1680 pgs. 63-67

I suggest that this extract does not show Rogers (as Patricia quotes Phyllis Mack) as reflecting “hysteria among Separatists [that] became even higher-pitched; some even accused Fox of a conspiracy to lead unsuspecting Friends into a nightmare ruled by himself and his fanatic female disciples.” Mack’s characterization of Roger as hysterical and high-pitched is not evident in this extract. These characterizations suggest a need to introduced elements not in evidence to strengthen an argument that is weak or suspect on its own. It is an attempt to deflect attention away from the contention itself. Patricia also quotes Phyllis Mack’s characterization of Roger’s book as “an angry, extremely diffuse polemic ...” I will leave it to the reader to decide whether Phyllis Mack’s characterizations are valid.

I now turn your attention to Roger’s expressed reason for his discussion of Women’s Meetings. He is answering the question of “How came those Meetings first to be held, and for what end?” This extract is his perspective on the on how and why Women’s Meetings came to be established or institutionalized in the Quaker Gathering. In essence, he is sharing his first person perspective on the reason for the creation of Women’s Meeting. He clearly states people assented to the institution of Women’s Meeting for the particular purpose of caring for the poor. Note, he does not argue against the institution of Women’s Meeting and the advancement of the role of Women’s Meeting in caring for the Poor. He is open to Women’s Meeting even though in other places he expresses concern over both Men and Women’s Meetings as taking on the prerogative of Christ. There is always implicit behind his narrative throughout the book a deference to the measure of Light guiding the conscience of others, even when another’s measure of Light is seemingly different than his. It does not mean he is adverse to talking to those whose measure of Light manifests a different weave in the tapestry of human conscious and conscience. He is also expectant others will opening talk with him about their concerns about him. However, when a person or persons endeavors to place their measure of Light over against that of another in an imposing or dictatorial manner he comes to the defense of those imposed upon. Rogers expresses the concern that, those who worked to establish Women’s Meetings, say the expressed reason for Women’s Meeting was a help care for the poor and many assented to that purpose. However, some time after the establishment of Women’s Meetings people began to suggest further roles for Women’s Meetings to which many had not assented. Plainly speaking, Roger writes:

“For our parts, on the whole matter, we say, ‘tis a Shame for a man to become an Instrument that Women’s Meeting should be held, .... under pretense of serving, and relieving the Poor in some cases, more effectual than before, and yet Publish a Book under the pretence of encouraging the said Meetings, whence it is thereby apparent, that some other End is now a least, if not from the Beginning, aimed at, than was manifested plainly in the Beginning.”

In essence, Rogers is saying he and others supported (there is no indication that Rogers did not find value in Women’s Meeting caring for the poor) George Fox’s institution of Women’s Meeting on George Fox’s word that the reason for Women’s Meeting was to care of the poor in circumstances and places the care was needed; but that Fox had pretended that Women’s Meeting was for relieving the poor and that the real intention was much greater.

Turning to Patricia’s Dallmann’s highlight of Phyllis Mack’s quotation of Rogers:

Phyllis Mack says of Rogers:

“Rogers also accused Fox of foisting women's rule on unsuspecting Friends under cover of a simple meeting for the care of the poor.”

She then quotes Rogers:
“And therefore Friends, who in simplicity assented to the meetings, as supposing women in some cases fitter to pry into the necessities of the poor that men...did at length begin to be jealous, that the words of the prophet Isaiah...were again fulfilled in our age. As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them...[Friends are worried] lest instead of being servants to the poor for truth's sake, and taking the weight and burden of that care from the men, they [women] should become rulers over both men and women.”

You have read this quote in a larger context; Now, however, I think it beneficial to now tighten the context a bit and include sentences just before and within the sentences Phyllis Mack brought to our attention.

Here is Rogers' words read in a slightly larger context.

“But this [Proposing Marriage over to Women’s Meeting] (as we suppose) not being known to many, some were very urgent to impose that Practice of Friends, or else to render such as Opposed, Dark Spirits, which occasioned many Friends to be Jealous that a Submission was not only intended to Meetings of Men, but Women’s Meetings also, and therefore Friends, who in simplicity assented to the latter Meetings, as supposing Women in some cases fitter to pry into the necessities of the Poor, than Men (considering also what weak People have frequented Men’s Meetings) did at length begin to be Jealous, that the words of the Prophet Isaiah 3:12, were fulfilled in our Age, As for my People, Children are their Oppressors, and Women rule over them. Oh my People, they which lead thee, cause thee to Err.”

“This Jealousy increasing, many of those, who were contented that Women should hold their Meetings apart from the Men, to take care of the Poor in some Cases, became less affected to such Meetings, lest instead of being Servants to the Poor for the Truth's sake, and taking the Care and burden of that Care from the Men, they should become rulers over both Men and Women; and that which seemed to confirm the Reasonableness of the said Jealousy was this:”

“It hath been observed, that though Women’s Meetings were assented to , to take care of the Poor in some cases, as the chief, if not the only end thereof … tis now a Question with many, whether that be not one of the least Services intended at this day thereby …”
---End Quote

I suggest to you that, relating to Phyllis Mack’s quotations, Rogers is here engaged in deep nuance. Remember, in the paragraphs just before the ones quoted above, Roger’s is talking about the wish by some to bring Marriage under the purview of “Women’s Distinct Meetings.” He writes, “In the process of time, some friends thought it necessary, that Marriages might be proposed to the Women’s Meeting, but several Friends in diver Countries would not assent …” Now watch what is happening here. There is more to this … Rogers is bringing our attention to the concern that the Women’s meeting would rule over both men and women. And here he is writing specifically about the concern that Women’s Meeting may rule over “both men and women.” However, I suggest that the concern over the rule of Women’s Meetings over men and women is not anchored in bigotry and chauvinism as Patricia and Phyllis Mack suggest. His concern was that many Quakers were establishing outward institutional forms to rule over men and women in the gathering and that Women’s Meeting is one manifestation. Here is my support.

In the Third Part of Rogers’ book he publishes an Objection that reads in part:

“Objection: We understand that many called Quakers, do hold Monthly and Quarterly Meetings of Men, and also of Women, distinct from Men, about their Church affairs, and that these Meetings are reputed to be Established (on certain days that ought not to be altered) by one man amongst them, that hath pretended, he was so moved of God to do so …” (pg. 10)

He then goes on to write on page 12:

“By this discourse the Reader may gather, that we are remote from owning those Meetings (mentioned in the last Objection, to be established) as part of Christ’s Government, and as to their having any share as a Church in Church Government … we think it needful to signify, That the chief ends (as we understood) wherefore the said Meetings were assented to by many Friends, were to relieve the Poor, and to perform other necessary Services to the Truth, and Friends concerned therein

Here Rogers indicates that those meetings mentioned in the Objection (i.e. Monthly and Quarterly Meetings of Men, and also of Women, distinct from Men) were assented to for the relief of the Poor etc.! Rogers is here indicating that Men’s, Women's, Monthly, and Quarterly meetings were assented to for specific limited reasons which do not impinge upon matters of conscience. He is here clearly indicating the he is not merely concerned with Women’s Meetings ruling over men and women, he is concerned with all Meetings (men, women, monthly and quarterly). We have now come down to the essence of things. Rogers continues:

“... in which we thought ourselves (and doubtless all the Faithful with us) Servants on unto another, and not Master, Governors, or Rulers over one another; for that did not so much enter into our Hearts: But when we perceived that some Upstarts (that to us seemed to love Preheminence, as Diotrephes did) looked upon themselves as Somebody, from their appearing (and being encouraged to appear) Members in such Meetings, and to lay a stress on the prefixed Days for Meeting; affirming, that they were Established by the Power God, that Friends who were Heirs of the Power, might come and take their Possessions therein; … then many Friends began to startle thereat, fearing that some (through Weakness and Blind Zeal) would Idolize the same, and run into an indispensable Form, and endeavor to bite and devour one another about Outward Things; and so a length some Friends in Truth, moved to alter the Days of Meeting in some place, but others not assenting thereto, Contention arose, and a Fire hath been Kindled about Church-Government, at so high a rate, as that Public Meeting Places, for the Worship of God, have sometimes become mere Stages of Contention …”

Patricia writes that, “It wasn't the regularization of meeting times that had William Rogers and the other Separatists attacking Fox, but the possibility that Fox's support for women would lead them "to become rulers over ...men," something William Rogers could not abide.”

I plead and appeal to the pure conscience in the inshining Light of the reader, and in light of the contextual evidence here laid before you. Is it not more accurate that Rogers’ was contending with George Fox both because of the regularization of meetings times (and other established forms) and out of a concern not just about Women’s Meetings, but Men’s, Women’s, Monthly, and Quarterly, ruling over the consciences of those Children of Light?

Patricia also writes: “Fox supported women's right to exercise authority within the Church; William Rogers and the Separatists found women's authority unacceptable.” Patricia is suggesting in her post that the reason those who did not follow the new order Fox was instituting among those Gathered in the Light was out of a chauvinistic and bigoted spirit. Does the contextual evidence, here laid down, support such a contention? The contextual evidence challenges Patricia’s suggestion. I am here to suggest that while it is valid and fair to bring awareness to the chauvinism and bigotry of the 17th century (not to mention that of today), it is not valid or fair to characterize those who contended with George Fox’s institutionalization of the gathering of Children of Light as motivated by mere bigotry and chauvinism. I turn your attention again to the Patricia’s quote of Rogers.

““It wasn't the regularization of meeting times that had William Rogers and the other Separatists attacking Fox, but the possibility that Fox's support for women would lead them "to become rulers over ...men," something William Rogers could not abide.”

The emboldened and underlined text is not an accurate quote. Roger turns our attention to the concern that Women’s Meetings “become rulers over both Men and Women.” Patricia leaves out “Women” in Rogers’ Quote. Rogers does express specific concern over Women’s Meeting ruling over Men and Women. However, we now know (proven by his own words) that he expresses as much concern over Men’s Meeting, Monthly Meeting, and Quarterly Meeting, ruling over men and women. It is a matter of fact that Rogers’ spends relatively few words focused on Women’s Meeting and the majority of his book challenging Men’s imposition over the conscience of others. His contention with George Fox is certainly not a manifestation of mere bigotry and chauvinism against women. Again, with that said, I am not suggesting that, when it came to Women’s Meetings, there was not an added dynamic of bigotry and chauvinism. It is just that these were not the primary motivation behind Rogers’ contending with George Fox.

Patricia also quotes Phyllis Mack’s quote of Rogers from the Christian Quaker, the Fourth Part, page 96:

“ Fox was accused of succumbing to the same appetite for female adulation that had doomed James Nayler. ‘Has thou forgotten,’ wrote Rogers, ‘how thou hast testified against James Nayler's spirit, whose great fall was his owning, or at least not reproving the women, when they cried with a carnal tongue Hosanna to him?”

The words quoted by Phyllis Mack come from a letter written to George Fox by William Rogers in 1677. I so wish I could publish the whole letter for you right here. However, I recommend it to you with the hope the one day you will read the whole of it. For this part, I will still feel it helpful to encircle Roger’s words quoted by Phyllis Mack with more context. Rogers writes:


“Hast thou forgotten, how often the Testimony of the Ancient Brethren were of this wise: We Preach not our selves, look not unto us, but unto the Appearance of Christ in your selves? And yet one Cause Assigned by thee, that John Wilkinson, and John Story as wrong, is their not coming to thee … Truly those who have received their Ministry from God, are not to run hither and thither at thy Call, or any man’s Call whatsoever; though I do know thou hast (in a letter written to me) Assigned their not coming to Thee, when thou sendeth for them, to be as a Proof, that they were not Right, no in the Light and Power of God. But by what Authority, or according to what Principle of Truth, Men called of God in the Work of the Ministry, must be declared to be not right, nor in the Light and Power of God, because they come not to Thee, when thou sendeth for them, I understand not: for thou in the best Estate, wast but a Member of the Christ of God, unto whom we are all to come, when he calls: And if any shall Affirm, that thou hast, and dost retain thy place yet in that Case, Thou canst be but a fellow-servant, accountable unto the Christ of God, as every Member of the Body (whereof Christ is Head) is?”

“Hast thou forgotten, how Thou hast Testified against James Naylor’s Spirit, whose great fall was his owning, or at least not Reproving the women, when they Cried with a Carnal Tongue Hosanna to him? And hath Thou no Sense, that its gross Ignorance, and thick Darkness for any to look upon Thee, as that Prophet whom the Lord by his Servant Moses Prophesied he would raise up, like unto him, whom the People are to hear in all things? I cannot believe thou art Ignorant, that such there are, who so Look on thee; and I never understood thou becamest a Reproof to this Spirit.”

“Hast thou no Sense, that the same Spirit of Ignorance, hath and can look upon that abominable Quotation, touching Micah’s Mother, as well enough, which, wherever it is, doth undoubtedly Spring from this, that ‘tis George’s giving forth, and so there must be something in it? And hast thou not been desired to clear things of this Nature, and to be a Reproof of such ignorance and Darkness which tends to lead us into Egypt again?”

---- End Quote

Rogers is here admonishing George Fox against falling into the same trap as James Naylor. That is, for not reproving people (not just women) against looking toward other people or himself as guide and to admonish them to look to the inshining Light itself illuminating their conscious and conscience. It was not “female adulation” that Rogers was concerned with, as Phyllis Mack suggests, it was not reproving adulation from anyone … man or women. And just is not case, Rogers is not here demeaning women. He is speaking a specific event with James Naylor that happened to include women.

For further support of my contention I turn your attention to a letter written by John Wilkinson in 1676 to George Fox that expresses the same concern in the same context. Wilkinson writes:

“And if James Naylor’s Opposition consisted in Not Reproving His Company, when they bowed to him, and cried Hosanna, let it be a warning to thee, and Reprove thy Company when they give thee Titles and Honor due to the Highest; lest they that Love Preeminence and Rule, out-live thy Time, and render thy Weakness to others …” (Source; The Christian Quaker, by William Rogers, Fourth Part, pg. 43.)

Wilkinson’s words along with Rogers demonstrates their concern was that Fox, in his imposition of outward institutional forms, was taking the place of Christ’s prerogative. They were not focus’ on or accusing Fox of seeking adulation from women alone as Phyllis Mack suggests.

There is so much more I wish I could share on this matter that Patricia has brought forth. My immersion in the writings of the early Quakers brings to mind so many other early Quaker sources I could interject into the conversation. However, I will end this response to Patricia with more words from Roger Williams that concerns women specifically; in order to further support my contention that Patricia, while her concern over latent bigotry and chauvinism concerning the establishment and role of Women’s Meeting is valid and fair, she has overstated her case.

Rogers writes:

“Paul, 1 Cor. 14:37 … thus saith, ‘If any man think himself to be a Prophet or Spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you and the Commandments of the Lord: and Verse 34 of the same chapter, Paul saith, Let your women keep silent in the Church, &c. Here’s a positive proof that women ought to be silent in the Church, and that by the Command of Paul, and therefore me thinks it should be a shame for such who plead for Women’s speaking in the Church, and not only so, but for their Service with respect to Exercise of Discipline, to pin so much (as to me appears the aforesaid Author [Robert Barclay] doth in his treatise) on the word Command us’d by Paul, when according to the measure of God’s Grace, and Truth which the Children of Light have received, they have and do testify, and that according to the Truth (notwithstanding what Paul saith, and hath Commanded) that Women as well as Men, and Men as well as Women, may speak in the Church of God, according to their respective Measures, when the Spirit of the Lord moves.” (Source: The Christian Quaker ... , By WIlliam Rogers, The Third Part, page 52.)

Rogers is here discussing those who were leading the gathering of the Children of Light into outward institutionalized forms and their teaching that those in the gathering whose conscience was not in agreement with their new institutionalized order to submit to the forms and commandments of the leaders anyway and follow their outward example even though their conscience did not see it and that this leadership was not an imposition on the conscience of others. Roger’s quotes Robert Barclay as using Thes. 3.6 which reads, “Now we command you Brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw your selves from every Brother, that walketh disorderly’ and not after the Traditions which he received of us.” Roger quotes Barclay further as writing: “what more positive proof than this? And yet the Apostle was not here an imposer.” Rogers answer this by writing: “To which I thus say, that this Scripture is no warrant for any to follow the Commands, or Traditions of others at this day, until convinced of the Truth, and real service of obedience to such commands or traditions.” Roger then leads into the above quote where he is basically saying to Barclay, okay take a look at Paul’s command that women keep silent in the Church. It is proof positive that Paul has commanded that women keep silent in the church. Roger is holding Barclay accountable for his contention that following Paul’s commands is not an imposition by saying if that is the case all women should be silent because Paul commanded it and no one should account Paul’s command upon women being silent a imposition. Roger says it is a shame that those who plead for women speaking in the Church and for their service in church discipline to argue in other circumstances for the following of outward commands even from the scripture when “when according to the measure of God’s Grace, and Truth which the Children of Light have received, they have and do testify, and that according to the Truth (notwithstanding what Paul saith, and hath Commanded) that Women as well as Men, and Men as well as Women, may speak in the Church of God, according to their respective Measures, when the Spirit of the Lord moves.” Bottom line, Rogers and those who contended with Fox against his institutionalization of the Children of Light upholds the measure of God’s Grace and the Truth the Children of Light has received that testifies that women as well as men may speak in the Church of God, regardless of Paul’s command in scripture. And so it is with all command of all people, even those, like George Fox, who, in their zeal to institutionalize the gathering of the Children of Light promoted following their commands and institutions even those in the gathering whose conscience did not follow their new order. Rogers, reveals their contradiction in that the readily ignored Paul’s command of women’s silence and at the same time imposed their commands and institutions on others who did not follow their new order.

Rogers, here upholds the Truth not only of men and women (over and above scriptural commands) together to speak in the Church he also uphold the service of women to disciple according to their respective measures of Light and as the Spirit of the Lord moves. I couldn’t end this response in a better place. Rogers and those who contended against the institution of George Fox’s new order held to their witness and their resulting testimony through their witness that they were “remote from owning” that outward institutions of Men’s, Women’s, Monthly, and Quarterly Meeting, were part of Christ’s government. And there witness was that the direct and unmediated experience of the inshining Light illuminating their conscious and conscience was their sole guide and government and that in the witness no outward institution like Men’s Meeting, Women’s Meeting, Monthly Meeting, or Quarterly Meeting rules over men and women who share equally in the Grace and illumination of the Presence of Christ.

Certainly, Patricia’s concern if valid and fair relating Women’s Meeting and the paradigm of bigotry and chauvinism that clouded the power of the inshining Light governing men and the nurturing of the freedom of women in the Presence of Christ. With that said, Rogers words themselves proves that Patricia has overstated her case when she suggests that it was not the regularization of times (among other things) that was an issue for Rogers; but the possibility of being ruled over by women. The evidence, found in Roger words themselves, suggests this is clearly not true. He was as much concerned with Men ruling over the conscience of other as he was women. He was not trying to hide bigotry by fighting the possibility of women ruling over him,  he also was also fighting men ruling over him. 

I am so appreciative of Patricia’s challenge. She brought to my attention the validity and fairness of the contention that women, even amongst the gathering of the Children of Light, struggled against bigotry and chauvinism. We apparently we will disagree about the extent to which William Rogers was motivated by, and identified with, the dark outward forms of bigotry and chauvinism and the extent to which he had victory over them by the power of the inshining Light illuminating his conscious and conscience.

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