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philologos
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 Quakers, old and new, and the 'inner light'

this topic began in another thread...
bubbaguy wrote:

Quote:
My response is to ask more personal experience questions, and not give answers.??Do you recognize the Holy Spirit in your life? Does It speak to you? How do you know right from wrong? etc. These more personal questions bring the immediacy and availability of the Holy Spirit to the fore. ??The personal God of Love is more comprehensible than the concept of a Universal Creator God, which seems distant and cold. (Yes, Ron, I believe in a Universal Creator God and evolution.)


I wrote:
Quote:
I know you believe in a Universal Creator God and evolution, but Darwinian evolution is based on random mutation and such a God must have 'left things to get on with it'. Would such a God still deserve to me called a creator? If God did influence it in 'any' way then it is not Darwinian evolution. Pay your money, and take your choice!

I notice that you frequently refer to the Holy Spirit as 'It'. I presume this because you see the Holy Spirit and the 'inner light' as synonimous terms which, of course, they are not. If they were, all talk of 'receiving the Spirit' would be nonsense, wouldn't it?



a pm continued the theme:
Quote:
God exists outside of time and it is impossible for us to discern how or when God works on things. This applies to evolution, as well, so human logic breaks down. Both evolution by random mutation and creation by the hand of God are operating at the same time. It's impossible to discern which, given any particular phenomena. Here time based, cause and effect logic breaks down completely.

Next, as Friends say, 'there is that of God in every person.' This is the inner Light and it is definately from and part of the Holy Spirit. When someone says they are recieving the Spirit it means they are tuning into and recognizing the Holy Spirit that has been with them all along.

There have been many threads on 'evolution/creationism' but fewer on this question of the 'inner light'. It touches much that emerges in other threads in these days... What is the 'inner light'. Is it as the above says 'from and part of the Holy Spirit'? What would this mean? Is the Holy Spirit divisible? Does 'receiving the Spirit' mean they are turning 'into' something/someone who has been with them all along? This begins to show the fault lines; is the 'inner light' an 'it' or a 'Him'? bubbaguy often speaks as though this was the accepted teaching of the Quakers, but was it? Did George Fox distinguish between the 'light of God' and the 'seed of God'?


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Ron Bailey

 2005/10/25 13:20Profile
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 Re: You're asking about being a Christian mystic?

You're referring to Fox's being labelled versus that of Bubbaguy? I'm pasting this from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_mysticism so that folks (such as me) who may be unfamiliar with the term. Do you believe this to be a balanced definition?

I'm not familiar enough with George Fox but find myself believing with many of the "mystics" (i.e. Tozer and William Law being two of my favorites).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Mysticism is the philosophy and practice of a direct experience of God. In the Christian context it is usually practiced through pursuit of the three disciplines of contemplative prayer (including Christian meditation), fasting (including other forms of abstinence), and alms-giving, all discussed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7). Another form of mysticism is participation in ecstatic worship. Many Christians believe that God dwells in all people (or at least in all Christians) through the Holy Spirit, and therefore all Christians can experience God directly.

Biblical foundations
The tradition of Christian Mysticism is as old as Christianity itself. At least three texts from the New Testament set up themes that recur throughout the recorded thought of the Christian mystics. The first, Galatians 2:20, says that:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (KJV)

The second important Scriptural text for Christian mysticism is 1 John 3:2:

Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

The third such text, especially important for Eastern Christian mysticism, is found in II Peter 1:4:

...[E]xceedingly great and precious promises [are given unto us]; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (emphasis added)


Two major themes of Christian mysticism are (1) a complete identification with, or imitation of Christ, to achieve a unity of the human spirit with the spirit of God; and (2) the perfect vision, or experience, of God, in which the mystic seeks to understand God "as he is," and no more "through a glass, darkly." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Other mystical experiences are described in other passages. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul sets forth an example of a possible out of body experience by someone who was taken up to the "third heaven", and taught unutterable mysteries:

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Perhaps a similar experience occurred at the Transfiguration of Jesus, an incident confirmed in each of the Synoptic Gospels. Here Jesus led three of his apostles, Peter, John, and James, to pray at the top of a mountain, where he became transfigured. Jesus's face shone like the sun, and he was clad in brilliant white clothes. Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus, and talked with him, and then a bright cloud appeared overhead, and a voice from the cloud proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son: hear him."

The Practice of Christian Mysticism
While such phenomena are often associated with mysticism in general, including the Christian variety, for Christians the emphasis is elsewhere; specifically, the major emphasis in Christian mysticism concerns a spiritual transformation of the human person, such that they become, as some have put it, more fully human, or fully realized human persons, "created in the Image and Likeness of God." For Christians, this full realization of human potential is realized most perfectly in Jesus and is manifested in others through their association with Him, whether conscious, as in the case of Christian mystics, or unconscious, with regard to persons who follow other traditions, such as Gandhi. The Eastern Christian tradition speaks of this transformation in terms of theosis or divinization, perhaps best summed up by an ancient aphorism usually attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria: "God became human so that humans might become God."

Going back at least to Evagrius Ponticus and Pseudo-Dionysius, Christian mystics have pursued a three-fold path in their pursuit of holiness. While the different aspects of this path have different names in the different Christian traditions, they can be characterized as purgative, illuminative, and unitive, in correspondence to a understanding of human personhood that is three-fold: body, soul (or mind), and spirit. The first, the way of purification, is where aspiring Christian mystics start. This aspect focuses on discipline, particularly in terms of the human body; thus, it emphasizes prayer at certain times, either alone or with others, and in certain postures, often standing or kneeling. It also emphasizes the other disciplines of fasting and alms-giving, the latter including those activities called "the works of mercy," both spiritual and corporal, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

This phase, which forms the basis of Christian mysticism in general, is designed, in the words of St. Paul, to "put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 8:13). The "deeds of the flesh" here includes not only external behavior, but also those habits, attitudes, compulsions, addictions, etc. (sometimes called passions) which oppose themselves to living as a Christian is called to live, not only exteriorly, but interiorly as well. Because of its physical, disciplinary aspect, this phase, as well as the entire Christian mystical path, is often referred to as "ascetic," a word which is derived from a Greek word referring to athletic training. Because of this, in ancient Christian literature, prominent mystics are often called "spiritual athletes," an image which is also used several times in the New Testament to describe the Christian life. What is sought here is salvation in the original sense of the word, referring not so much to one's eternal fate, but to one's healing, spiritually, mentally and emotionally, and physically.

The second phase, called the path of illumination, has to do with the activity of the Holy Spirit enlightening the mind, giving insights into the truths, not only explicit in Scripture and the rest of the Christian Tradition, but also those implicit in nature, not in the scientific sense, but rather in terms of an illumination of the "depth" aspects of natural happenings, such that the working of God is perceived in all that one experiences.

The third phase, usually called contemplation in the Western tradition, has to do with the experience of oneself as in some way united with God. This experience of union varies and is difficult to describe. However, it is first and foremost always associated with Divine love, the underlying theme being that God is known or experienced, as much by the heart as by the intellect since, in the words of the book 1 John 4:16: "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him."

Another aspect of Christian mysticism had to do with its communal nature. Even for hermits, the Christian life is always lived in communion with the Church, the community of believers. Thus, participation in corporate worship, especially the Eucharist, is an essential part of Christian mysticism. Connected with this is the practice of having a spiritual director, confessor, or "soul friend" with which to discuss one's spiritual progress. This person, who may be clerical or lay, acts as a spiritual mentor.


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Ed Pugh

 2005/10/25 16:40Profile
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 Re:

No, my post was not relating to mysticism. Personally, I am deeply suspicious of mysticism. I hope he comes to the party, but bubbaguy looks to his sense of 'inner light' as the ultimate authority in spiritual truth. He would expect that to be matched by the same 'witness' in his group of Friends, but he would certainly put his 'inner light' ahead of the scripture revelation. Of course, there is a similarity in that some (but not all) mystics would do the same. Their final authority is the subjective witness of their 'inner light' rather than the objective witness of the scriptures.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/10/25 18:36Profile
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 Re:

This is a very interesting conversational topic indeed. As a side note but ties in there was a revival movement in canada called the "Great Awakening" in Nova Scotia that happened after the awakening in the states and paticularly new england died down. In this movement there was a key figure Henry Alline. He was sort of a mystic and in many ways reminds me of George Fox. Well the churches that experienced this revival were known as "New Light" churches. They were mostly comprimised of baptist churches and most would be known as Free will baptist after the movement.

Alot of the focus was on the experience of the word and application of it before interpretation and grounding in the historical sense. But definetly I would say that the minstries of Henry Alline and George Fox were needed. But it does beg the question can people who seem to veer off doctrine slightly especially in ephasis or termnilogy be considered right overall?

From my readings of George Fox he saw the emphasis of the parallels of light and darkness in the scripture that God gives as allegories to true spiritual meaning. Alline's statements would usually be let us get to the spiritual interpretation of this text thinking the intial viewing of it as not as spiritual. In this way he was very mystical. And also George Fox I believe followed in this way of thinking.

I know there are some works against the "inner light" doctrine and thoughts that George Fox uses. There is a book penned by George Fox called "The Great Mystery" in it there is given an rebutal to every tract written against quakers and the beliefs of their sect. I have it in my hand and it is a lofty volume. The funny thing is he replies to [b]every[/b] known tract written by puritans and others against him and the quakers and then if that were not enough he goes and attacks John Owen (the king of puritans) who was definetly an monumental and historical figure, but George Fox seeing no partiality as does God wrote some apologies against his doctrines and teachings.

It is interesting to note that pratically every answer George Fox gives is: "The scripture says..."

Here is a link to some of the book:
http://www.qis.net/~daruma/GreatMystery3.html


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2005/10/25 18:48Profile
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 Re:

This is out of the 1st of 3 of the doctrinal books of the quakers:

"...for the light is but one, which is Christ, who enlighteneth everyone, and all are enlightened with one light; every one taking heed to that light which Christ hath enlightened you withal, it leads you out of sects, out of forms, out of the beatuty of the world, to love in life and power: and wiating in the light which Christ hath enlightened you withal, you come to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and servants to the truth..."

Possibly the "light" is talked of a term to represent Christ (God) and also the Spirit (Holy Spirit) that He imparts to believers. And truly the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, that has come into the world to reprove and convict of unrighteousness and also teach men into all truth. It is a stumbling block to some when He speaks in these ways but as he says "it" leads you... I think George Fox meant in all good ways that the Holy Spirit leads us to be Holy in manner and thought also..

It will be interesting to look deeper into this. I am sure Ron is working away at something here.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2005/10/25 19:05Profile
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 Re:

Thanks Greg
I have bookmarked the 'Great Mystery' and will look forward to looking at it in more detail. At this stage I am not challenging Fox but rather those who have interpreted him. 'The scripture says' is not only a phrase with Fox. His searching before conversion gave him and almost encyclopaedic grasp of the scripture. It would be almost impossible for someone like Fox to go contrary to the scripture accidentally. This makes 'Fox's' "inner light" a much safer luminary than "inner light" in others. Indeed, what I hope we can do here is find out just what the "inner light" is and to see if it differs from the conscience and from an intervening witness of the Spirit to our spirit.

Fox is one of my all time heroes. In the little history of the UK I gave you, Fox is the missing ingredient. My own theory is that England's revival did not occur at the Reformation but a century later under the ministry of George Fox.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/10/25 19:10Profile
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 Re:

When you guys talk about "inter light " are you talking about the enlightening of the scripture to ones understanding?


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D.Miller

 2005/10/25 19:22Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
When you guys talk about "inter light " are you talking about the enlightening of the scripture to ones understanding?


I can only hope so Dohzman.
And I believe that will be the emphasis here. There was a good note mentioned here;

Quote:
'The scripture says' is not only a phrase with Fox. His searching before conversion gave him and almost encyclopaedic grasp of the scripture. It would be almost impossible for someone like Fox to go contrary to the scripture accidentally. This makes 'Fox's' "inner light" a much safer luminary than "inner light"



Brings to mind;
Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, [size=xx-small]ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.[/size]

Which words?
This will come around to the question of inerrancy again and find it somewhat puzzling that this can be such an issue as even measuring what our 'inner light' or the impulses that affect us against what has been written for our understanding. The quirkiness of our beings, being so fickle one moment, elated the next, emotions and worship, times of deep searching, some of the navel variety, some of the Holy Spirit. Imagination for good and bad, but still [i]imagination[/i] so many factors. Things observed, things felt... things [i]wondered[/i], this being one that is a wonder in itself, that it seems to have fled with a want of always having to have an explanation for everything.

Mystic and mysterious I don't think have to be coined together. What is considered trustworthy amongst those that are given trust? Is it not primarily their character? If we have an 'experience' in whatever form or shape it comes in that we think is from this 'inner light' or more accurately the Holy Spirit, would He ever act out of character? We might be able to say that about ourselves, but...

And how are to come to know what that character is? If we were left to each of our own insights and inflections only...

Isn't this what the canon of scripture was brought round to as it was culminated? That which was out of character being rejected? Just as [i]1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.[/i]

What all preceded this?

1Co 2:4 And [b]my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:[/b]
1Co 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Co 2:6 Howbeit [b]we speak wisdom[/b] among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
1Co 2:7 But [b]we speak the wisdom of God[/b] in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

1Co 2:8 [u]Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory[/u].

(Is this not similar to Joh 5:39; [i]Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me[/i]. ?)

Coming full circle;

1Co 2:9 [u]But as it is written[/u], Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1Co 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

It just seems to be very much a hand in glove issue. Not approaching scripture as a 'law book' as a lawyer might study it for knowledge sake alone, but as a lawyer in practice would reference it and refer to it, appeal to it as the final standard. What we tend to have a lot of now is to change the 'law' as it were to suit our tastes or wishes instead of subjecting everything to it.

It's a poor analogy on many levels, because we love the object of our affections, just seems if we did more so we might listen to what He said and appeal to that first and foremost.

1Jo 2:24 What you have heard from the beginning must abide in you. If what you have heard from the beginning abides in you, you will also abide in the Son and in the Father.
1Jo 2:25 The message that he himself declared to us is eternal life.
1Jo 2:26 I have written to you about those who are trying to deceive you.
1Jo 2:27 The anointing you received from him abides in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. Instead, because his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not a lie, abide in him, as he taught you to do.

Think this could be a key verse here just as well as it is often used to buttress an idea that "[i]you do not need anyone to teach you[/i]" misses everything that comes before it. Again, what things? "[i]What you have heard from the [u]beginning[/u] must abide in you.'[/i]

1Jo 2:4 The person who says, "I have come to know him," but does not continually [b]keep his commandments[/b] is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
1Jo 2:5 But whoever continually [b]keeps his word[/b] is the kind of person in whom God's love has truly been perfected. This is [u]how we can be sure that we are in union with him:[/u]
1Jo 2:6 The one who says that he abides in him [b]must live the same way he himself lived[/b].

And the only account we have is that which is written. The final arbitrator is the Lord and the arbitration is His word, the Word made flesh, one and the same.


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Mike Balog

 2005/10/26 0:27Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
Quote:
Dohzman wrote:
When you guys talk about "inter light " are you talking about the enlightening of the scripture to ones understanding?


Mike replied
I can only hope so Dohzman.
And I believe that will be the emphasis here. cont.

No, and this is the real dilema that I am trying to address here. The Quakers believed that... “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:6-9, KJVS)..and interpret that to mean there was 'a light that illuminates every man' and that we are born with it. They went further and said 'this light is within every man' and because they identified that 'light' with Christ they said that there was that which was 'of Christ' in every man. Modern Quakers use a similar language but have made that 'inner light' quite independent of any revelation in scripture. On a personal level there is also a tendency to receive 'revelation' from this 'inner light' and to regard it with the same confidence as any scriptural revelation. Bubbaguys 'inner light revelation' has taught him that the 'original sin' of early man was to become a carnivore. This necessitated a change in human physiology to enable humans to catch animals. Now for many who read these pages the details will seem bizarre but the principle at stake is an important one. It is important because it is much the same as is professed by many pentecostal/charismatic believers who add 'special revelations' to the scripture and so become 'wiser than what is written'. (btw most non-charistmatics would regard me as a charismatic)

On SI here this has included revelations about psychological wounds which need to emerge slowly over years and layers of wounds which hide behind each other and so distort our understanding and experience. It has also produced 'revelations' about relating to pre-human histories of angels. In sermons is includes some of the special revelations of David Wilkerson relating to hell. (I have huge respect for David Wilkerson, but feel this aspect of his ministry is disturbing and unhelpful.) So this thread was not started as a 'witch-hunt' against the views of Bubbaguy but as an attempt to get a grip on a current understanding and to measure its implications.

The question I want to ask is 'is that light which illumines every man' a witness to man's conscience? The passage from John 1 is really all about God's witnesses to us and the Jew's response to the ultimate witness. Is it a witness 'to us' or 'within us'? Does it differ from conscience? No-one, as far as I know, would suggest that the conscience 'adds' revelation; most would say it bears witness to revelation.

With some Quakers there is a tendency to equate 'inner light' with another of Fox's phrases... 'the seed of God'. From time to time Fox's diary describes individuals as 'having a seed of God' within them. As far as my reading goes, I have never seen Fox use this as a synonym for 'the inner light'. The 'seed of God' was not in all, otherwise Fox would not have described 'some' as having it. It is almost the equivalent to 'a work of grace has begun in him'.

I realize from your comments that this language may be strange to some. In one sense this is a bit a cycle. I cannot start with a definition because this is what the whole thread is aimed at. How are we to define 'light which illumines every man'? and what status does 'extra-biblical' revelation have in the systematizing of Christian truth?


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Ron Bailey

 2005/10/26 3:58Profile
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 Re: Word and Spirit

Quote:
How are we to define 'light which illumines every man'? and what status does 'extra-biblical' revelation have in the systematizing of Christian truth?



I consider this question important, not just because of the concept of Inner Light, but to discuss all troubling forms of extra-biblical revelation in the Church, either through reason or mysticism.

It is my growing conclusion that somewhere along the rationalist line we have separated Jesus’ words from the Spirit. Notice how interchangeable "words" and "spirit" are to Jesus. “"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." So when Jesus said of His words “They are spirit”, this is quite a different thing then saying” My words are spiritual.” There a relationship between words and spirit that we tend to dismiss. What is this relationship between God’s words and God’s spirit? I’m not sure if I can articulate it, but I am sure that the two are more then connected…they are inseparable.

Those outside the Church presume to hear the Word without the Spirit, while too many within the Church presume to hear the Spirit without the Word. This is why I have come to believe that those who would hear God should not chase after an inner voice, but the "voice" of Scripture. Only then does the spirit quickeneth.

In following Ron’s counsel to look for histories and not definitions of biblical words…I notice that Paul penned this irreducible historical biography of the Holy Spirit:

“The Spirit giveth life.”

So I think perhaps a better term would be "Inner Life." The Spirit is not here to inform us, but to conform us to the words of Jesus, testifying of the words that Jesus has spoken. “Why do ye not understand my speech? [Even] because ye cannot hear my word?” The Spirit’s revelation to the Church is never more or less then the revealed word of God recorded in scripture. As we ingest and live these words, the Spirit giveth life.

I believe this was the Inner Light George Fox spoke of. His Inner Light freed him from the captivity from conflicting denominational traditions…to be more of a captive to scripture. This I believe is the ministry of the Holy Spirit…to make us more captive to the word of God. In utter contrast, many today use the Inner Light to bypass scripture. This is the essential difference between George Fox and many Quakers, Charismatics, and even some freelance prophets today.

Fox was quite aware that it was the person of the Holy Spirit that gives life. Fox would not have called the Spirit “it” “And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (Although the “Inner Light” as an "it" could very well be an unfortunate synonym for “the mind of Christ.”)

Fox describes the Inner Light in his journal. “But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those esteemed the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition"; and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence who enlightens, and gives grace, and faith, and power.”

I believe Fox would not at all approve of the extra biblical revelation that is so common today. Today, too many want to find revelation beyond scripture…some through higher criticism of the text, and other through mysticism that bypasses the text. This need for extra-biblical mysticism in the Church indicates a belief that scriptures no longer provides sufficient revelation to live as Christians. I think we imagine a dialectic where Spirit and the Text are at odds with each other and we are left to fill in the blanks.

Somehow scripture and spirit are not the false dichotomy we rationalize them to be. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” To the degree that I ingest the bible’s pages is the degree that I will have an inner light. To the degree I live according to the revelation contained in the pages is the degree that I am walking in that light. To the degree I make know the message of the pages, is the degree I bring light into this world.

MC


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Mike Compton

 2005/10/26 5:58Profile





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