Thursday, October 31, 2013

Daily Old Testament: Micah 4 and My Own Article on "Continuing Revelation" (Part 3)

Micah 4 – “In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all—the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’” (4:1-2).

God will “wield authority over many peoples . . .they will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear” (4:3-4). This is the promise of the Lord.

The chapter ends with a promise that the Lord will gather the lame and the exiles together, “those whom I have filled with grief” (4:6), and they will become a strong nation. “The kingship will be restored to my precious Jerusalem” (4:8). The exile has actually not yet begun. But this promise is one they will take with them. But the Babylonians do not know that the Lord will make them strong in the end.

From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism -
“Continuing Revelation”
Part 3
The idea of “continuing revelation” was a very important concept for early Friends, but it didn’t stand alone. It stood in tension with another important idea—the idea that the Spirit of God that brought forth all truth was not a God of disorder. The best articulation of this in the early years was in Robert Barclay’s Apology, published first in 1673 to defend Friends’ interpretation of the gospel against charges of heresy. Barclay defends the idea that the Spirit of God continues to lead and influence the faithful, but he is careful to assure his readers that such continuing revelation will never lead to utterly new and contradictory “truths”.

We firmly believe that there is no other doctrine or gospel to be preached other than that which was delivered by the apostles. And we freely subscribe to the saying in Gal. 1:8: ‘If we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed.’

In other words, we distinguish between a revelation of a new gospel and new doctrines, and new insight into the established gospel and doctrines. We plead for the latter, but we utterly deny the former. We firmly believe that there are no new foundations to be laid other than those which have already been laid. But added insight is needed on matters for which the foundations have already been laid” Dean Freiday, ed., Barclay’s Apology in Modern English - published through a grant from the Rebecca White Trust of the Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia, 1967, 63).

Early Friends knew that there were competing voices within people, and they knew and spoke eloquently about the fact that hearing and obeying God required a personal experience of Christ’s cross in relation to their own wills and selves. Fox himself had struggled against the competing voices that called to him, the “two thirsts” that clamored within him for attention during Christ’s ministration to him in the “spiritual wilderness” (The “ministration of Moses” in his own journey).

When certain early recruits to the Quaker vision of the gospel went off on escapades Fox thought were not authentic or that brought the movement into disrepute, he set up a structure of Monthly Meetings that he hoped would oversee individuals and test their leadings. But I don’t think Fox every fully appreciated the potential for confusion that lay in his rejection of outward standards. He simply believed that the gospel he had recovered had a power and an order in it that reached to the heart and transformed it. Christ’s sheep “know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because the do not know the voice of stranger” (John 10:4-5). If there were disorderly people in a Monthly Meeting, he encouraged the “more seasoned” to go to them and labor with them as Jesus recommends in Matthew’s gospel (18: 15-17).

No comments:

Post a Comment