Something We Need To Remember

It dawned on me today that we may have forgotten – in our efforts to explain all our views of what the Bible is telling us – that scripture holds a secondary position of importance next to the Light amongst Friends.

It is a common misconception corrected by the early Friends that “the Word of the Lord” is not scripture – but Jesus.

Fox explained how it works when he wrote that scipture in and of itself does nothing unless read in the Spirit, and his proof was in saying that the Jews had scripture and yet denied the Christ because they did not have the Spirit in it.

Many Christians have – through the ages – called down Quakers for this stance, but we have forever stated that our guide is Jesus and he is present as our priest in meeting as well as (we hope) when we study the Bible on our own.

The idea is that Jesus always takes primacy. This is hard for many *Christians* to see sometimes, but I thought it might need to be said here.

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13 responses

  1. Hi RW. I didn’t know that Quakers thought this. But we aren’t so different … the Jesuit spiritual director that I had advised me that scripture was subordinate to actual religious experience of Jesus/God.

  2. In this vein I like what Fox said, as reported by Brinton at top of p. 16 in Friends for 300 Years: “Ye will say Christ said this, and the apostles say this, but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of the Light and hast thou walked in the Light, and when thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?”I understand here that he uses Christ to name the human person, namely Jesus. The Light represents “that of God”. I find many Quakers who have actually substituted the Light for the [Eternal] Christ.I personally prefer Christ, realizing that they are both metaphors. To each his own.

  3. Crystal: You’re right. That Jesuit would have made a good Quaker.

  4. Absolutely. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

  5. About religious experience … the retreat I’m taking, and Ignatian prayer in general, puts major importance on the actual experience of being “with” Jesus/God. In that style of prayer, you imagine Jesus sitting near you and you talk to him and he talks back. I worry about how a person can be sure their experience is valid and not just an over-active imagination so I’m always second guessing my prayer times :-). How do you guys feel about this stuff?

  6. Crystal – I’m not trying to sell you a book, but one of the best explantions of “how to be sure” I’ve ever read is in the chapter titled “Waiting Worship” in “Essays On The Quaker Vision Of Gospel Order” By Lloyd Lee Wilson.But, in general, I usually wait until I can be sure that still small voice isn’t just me babbling in my head. I rarely speak in meetings.

  7. Thanks for the book recomendation, RW, I’ll check it out. Hey, at least you Quakers get to speak at church … for us Catholic parisheners, mums the word ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I too embrace the teaching that it is Christ (inwardly felt as Teacher through the Spirit) and not scripture which is my authority.Having said that I expect both reason (spirit-enlightened) and scripture (rightly interpreted) to be consistent with that still small voice within. Scripture is the written witness of generations past to Christ in his earthly life and to that self-same inward witness as experienced by the prophets and apostles. I try to take it seriously. I also can bear witness with Karl Barth (reformed theologian) that scripture can become the Word of God for us (me) when I hear God speak through it.So that in turn raises issues of how to interpret scripture such that I can better hear God speak to me through its witness.I keep ragging on the socialism stuff because I am conflicted between my inclinations and my reasons and my interpretations on this issue. So I await the time when heart and mind are in accord.

  9. Good morning Mr Saur… glad I caught you on the way to meeting this morning. Just a thought; Perhaps your “socialism stuff” is just a manifestation of your true concern that economic justice is done. Nothing really wrong at all with that!One of the hardest thongs I’ve had to do is explain how that is the reason I go the other way on economics. Oh well.Have to get going…

  10. The argument between socialism and capitalism will never be settled, but we can profitably debate it sharing what that of God in each one has to say about it. IMO capitalism and socialism each have something creative to say to the other. This is an excellent platform.

  11. About the economic issue … I’ve probably gone off on a weird tangent, but last night, as I was watching the first movie of the Lord of the Rings ๐Ÿ™‚ I thought of our discussion. Maybe money really equals power, the power to accomplish whatever you want. Perhaps the things you want to accomplish with that power are good things. But the accumulation of power, for whatever purpose, must have an effect on a person. Frodo offers the ring to Gandalf but the wizard, though tempted, doesn’t take it. He says that he would want to use the power of the ring for good, but that it wouldn’t turn out that way … the power would corrupt him.It seems from the scripture readings (James and also Jesus in the gospels), that a certain atitude helps one “enter God’s kingdom” … dependance, emptyness (as in waiting to be filled), humility … stuff that’s maybe easier to find in a powerless/poor person.

  12. The argument between socialism and capitalism will never be settled, but we can profitably debate it sharing what that of God in each one has to say about it.That is a curious turn of phrase Friend Larry. Am I to take this to mean that what is of God in you may contradict what is of God in me and thus God be in conflict with Godself when we disagree?It is a matter I feel Friends could thresh through to some profit.

  13. David wrote:”Am I to take this to mean that what is of God in you may contradict what is of God in me and thus God be in conflict with Godself when we disagree?”Absolute not! Go back to the image of the mountain (of God, this time) and the grain of sand (of what we know of God). Lots of grains of sand make up a mountain. Often we may get the idea that that of God in someone contradicts what I know of God. But actually we’re not so bright as to be able to determine that.You and I share what we have from God, and we’re both enriched by it.—- contradictory as it may seem at times. Such has been my relationship with you, dear friend.

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