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Author Topic: The religionless Christianity of George Fox  (Read 2802 times)
dlhanon
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2012, 10:30:40 PM »

Just like the e-Quakerism that we try to build will not look exactly like face-to-face Quakerism, but will still recognisably stem from the same roots.
religionless=institutionless  (there is a reason Fox chose to refer to the movement as  "The Religious Society of Friends" being  so named > personally for this very reason I am shy to continually label our community here as  "e-quaker" as one is then so many steps closer to equating such with an institutionalized form of religion such as "protestant" or "Catholic" etc. (and yes the label of "quakeR" does the same.)  This is what labeling leads to (as well as overorganizing things within our community)... Fox understood this.   This is exactly what Fox was determined to move away from.   
The "E" (e-quakerism) needlessly refers to the fact that we are an internet community and the "ism" only serves to strengthen the institionalization factor of the movement.   I don't care for either and feels it adds nothing positive to what we are trying to achieve here.

That being said, there is still the conundrum of raising our children in the basics of searching towards an enlightnment within our spirtual self.  Religious institutions (including the Religious Society of Friends) fill this function.   Where the institutional religions  fail IMHO is enabling them to "grow up" (mature) into an adult (independent) spirtuality (in whatever form they chose) meaning (if so necessary or freely chosen as I chose to do many years ago) to walk their chosen spiritual path  fully capable of doing so without having to  claim one or other religious institution in order to do so.   
in friendship,
Diana
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 01:18:58 PM by Wim Nusselder » Logged

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gemlover
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2012, 07:52:22 PM »

My true thanks to all in this discussion.  Benson's lecture was very interesting.  I agree with Wim, that this view of George Fox about establishing "religion" is essential to the nurturing and eventual prosperity of the electronic meeting.  We need to think through our individual needs in our community.

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Wim Nusselder
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2012, 06:13:16 AM »

Thanks Bill,

I fully agree.
This message of the need to stay close to one's Guide is not a unique feature of Quakerism. You can hear it from those within many Christian traditions, and that voice has been there throughout the history of Christianity.
And can be recognised outside Christianity as well, I assume.
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Quakers should not unduly hold up the forbears of their tradition and try to restore the Quakerism of the 17th or 18th century. They should listen for Christ's voice now, and be faithful. What results will not look exactly like anything that happened before, just like the early Quaker movement did not look exactly like anything before, including the apostolic church.
Just like the e-Quakerism that we try to build will not look exactly like face-to-face Quakerism, but will still recognisably stem from the same roots.

With f&Friendly greetings,

Wim
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BillSamuel
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2012, 05:35:00 AM »

A bit strange that Benson tries to posit Fox as being for religionless Christianity when quote after quote from Fox shows that Fox didn't see it that way. "He says that Christ has come to bring people off from all the world’s religions to the religion that he set up in the apostles’ days." Fox is continually contrasting the "true" or "pure" religion he claimed to preach with the "false" or "manmade" religion of the rest of Christianity. And this true Christianity has an "order and government" that Fox actually put considerable effort into establishing.

Fox deliberately established an institution of Quakerism believing this would help ensure that this Christianity would remain "true". In fact, like every other Christian movement it fairly quickly started falling into the usual institutional traps of "manmade religion" like the colors limitation which Margaret Fell Fox eloquently called "a silly, poor Gospel." And just like other brands of Christianity which have been around hundreds of years, today you can look at Friends meetings and see mostly manmade religion devoid of the power of the Lord.

Benson points out the history of movements of Christian renewal: "These groups, like the Montanists, first appeared in a historical situation already dominated by the institutionalized church and they made their witness in the form of a protest against the establishment. This caused them sometimes to overvalue certain things simply because they were undervalued by the establishment." Much as he attempts to separate out the early Quaker movement as different, this describes early Quakers quite well.

Benson also quotes a non-Quaker to argue that the early Christian church as an ekklesia without what the institutional church calls sacraments. But the New Testament record clearly indicates that the apostolic church practiced physical communion and water baptism.

There is a tension between "pure religion" and the institution. This is evident throughout the Old Testament. This tension does not go away in the New Testament. No one, including the Quakers, has been able to get away from it. Rather than pretending we can, we need to recognize it and be on guard against the inevitable drift towards manmade religion that is increasingly drained of its spiritual power. There is no magic formula like avoiding the traditional rituals or a new format that gets away from this problem. There are plenty of meetings for worship that take place outwardly within the Quaker form that are every bit as spiritually dead as the institutional church of Fox's day. It is only by staying close to the true way, Jesus Christ, that we can experience true religion. And that can be done in any number of forms. This message of the need to stay close to one's Guide is not a unique feature of Quakerism. You can hear it from those within many Christian traditions, and that voice has been there throughout the history of Christianity.

Quakers should not unduly hold up the forbears of their tradition and try to restore the Quakerism of the 17th or 18th century. They should listen for Christ's voice now, and be faithful. What results will not look exactly like anything that happened before, just like the early Quaker movement did not look exactly like anything before, including the apostolic church.
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Bill Samuel, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
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Padraic Murray
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2012, 03:51:28 AM »

Thanks Willem,
It's a great article and very challenging. And inspiring.  Perhaps Lewis Benson is a little hard on religion. Perhaps "disorganized" religion shares some of the human shortcomings of organised religion. We can best find God in communion and that involves working with other human beings every bit as  flawed as ourselves. Nevertheless an inspirational and prophetic piece.
In Friendship, Padraic 
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Padraic in faith,hope and love
Tom Smith
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2012, 05:30:56 PM »

Thanks, Willem.

Lewis Benson was a good friend when we were at Manasquan Meeting in NJ in the early 70's. He had an exceptional grasp of early Friends and the early church as well. The "New Foundation Fellowship" grew out of his work.

Some of what QFF is going through with organization maybe part of the "religionless" ideas expressed here that would avoid a "restrictive structure." However, I believe that a community of, excuse the phrase, "seekers of truth" might be helpful to the members. I would also say that as a seeker for many years there are many things that have been found, but that the opening of newly discovered doors lead to much more to be discovered.
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Willem Furnee
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« on: January 03, 2012, 03:31:13 PM »

Dear Friends,

As you might know Fox preached that we should do away with all "human made religions".
The Christian churches of today are all "human made". In the New Testament we find no proof that Jesus ever commanded his disciples to start a church organisation with Sunday services, liturgies, rituals etc. He invited people to follow him by doing the things he did and to love one another even our adversaries! 
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven". (Matthew 7:21)

(This might be the motivation for our non-theistic Friends to refrain from speaking of God).

Mind the fact that the Christian community as it existed in biblical times was transformed into a formal organisation with all kinds of rules, regulations, creeds etc. after the edict of Milano in 313 which declared that the Roman Empire would be neutral with regard to religious worship. At that time the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was gradually pushed to the background by the drive to expand the church organisation instead of the Kingdom of God...

I posted this messsage because I was inspired by an article which you can find at:

http://shrewsburyquakers.info/lectures/files/ShrewsburyLecture4.pdf.

It may speak to your condition as it did to mine. Moreover I guess that it is interesting stuff for an inspiring "worship sharing".

In f/Friendship, Willem
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 02:21:02 AM by Wim Nusselder » Logged
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