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Re: [quf] Second Coming

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  • Chris Burford
    I do not ignore this contribution, by Tom Smith, but it is hard to respond to, and thereby show it is heard. On the internet we cannot hear when a seed falls
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 6, 2008
      I do not ignore this contribution, by Tom Smith, but it is hard to respond
      to, and thereby show it is heard.

      On the internet we cannot hear when a seed falls on stony ground, and I hope
      the ground does not seem stony.

      If you knew Lewis Benson as a friend for a number of years, Tom, then you
      knew him in a way that those of us who know him only by his writings cannot
      know him. And if the stub on Wikipedia is correct, he lived from 1906 to
      1986.

      He must have conveyed to those he met a sense of an immanent tranformed
      world, as some spiritually charged people do at various times in history and
      in various parts of the world. The New Foundation Fellowship in the USA and
      in the UK carries forward that message.

      He is one of a number of self-taught Quaker historians who find rich soil in
      early Quaker writings, which were of course Christian in their inspiration.
      But I am not always sure how well they are balanced side by side with other
      serious historical scholarship. During Britain's recent Yearly Meeting I
      went into the library in Euston Road and stumbled upon a detailed book on
      the Fifth Monarchy Men, from whom it appeared that Fox and other Quakers
      vigorously disassociated themselves, especially after the restoration of the
      monarchy.

      I think I find in Lewis Benson's writings a view that unifies somewhat too
      closely early Quaker writing, which inseparably links together the sense of
      the immediate direct communication with Christ within, with the early
      Christian concept of the second coming, leading to the kingdom of God on
      earth, together with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as far as we can
      discern what they probably were beneath the accretions of the early
      Christian church.

      I personally believe the many rich strands of spirituality associated with
      the name of Christianity are best viewed with respect from a universalist
      point of view, like other great spiritual traditions. Yet my recollection is
      that Lewis Benson argued strongly that the much loved Quaker phrase "that of
      God in everyone" must not be understood separately from a belief in the
      Christ Jesus. So his definition of what is catholic, universal, was
      different to that of universalists.

      But as to the task of building the kingdom, or the republic of God, on
      earth, yes, many Quakers now see this as an ongoing task, but perhaps
      without that inner radiance that has transformed their lives as a
      life-changing experience. Although sometimes it is.

      I hope these comments do not do your friend an injustice.

      Chris Burford

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Tom Smith" <tesmith44@...>
      To: <quf@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 9:37 PM
      Subject: [quf] Second Coming


      |I am a little slow at catching up with the threads in quf as being a
      | relatively new member and having some major personal concerns at the
      | moment.
      |
      | However, I do want to respond briefly to the concept of the second
      | coming. It was my privilege to be a friend of Lewis Benson's for a
      | number of years and we had many discussions. One phrase that he
      | returned to on several occassions was that "Christ has come in all of
      | his offices." To me that met that all of the "second-coming" had been
      | fulfilled since Jesus spoke not of a physical kingdom but of a "kingdom
      | of heaven" as the kingdom comes as we do God's will on earth. ("Lord's
      | Prayer")
      |
      | I also heard my grandfather sya that was not concerned with going to a
      | better place, but that this place be better when he goes."
      |
      | Tom Smitih
      |
      |
      | ------------------------------------
      |
      | Yahoo! Groups Links
      |
      |
      |
    • Tom Smith
      Chris, I certainly don t take your response to be from stony ground. I benefit from and enjoy the challenges/questions/wisdom of others as they are shared and
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 7, 2008
        Chris,

        I certainly don't take your response to be from stony ground. I benefit from and "enjoy"the challenges/questions/wisdom of others as they are shared and find that there is so much more to learn and experience. I have often been told that my writing and speech is too straight forward and abrupt, but I try to speak from a sense of openness and trust that others will take what I say as a way to open direct conversation rather that place any sense of closure.

        Hopefully a quick response. I knew Lewis very well from 1972 - 1976 when we were both members of Manasquan MM. I have had difficulty at times identifying myself as a christian due to the exclusiveness of most "christians." Lewis had a very profound sense of the presence of "Christ." I believe he was convinced that the transforming power he knew could be directly connected to Jesus of Nazareth, as I do. For me this was not much of an issue because that same transforming power was seen in other individuals and the exclusiveness of the Gospels is not evident when looked at in context. I understand Jesus of Nazareth as being one who was transformed by a power/spirit that is available and immanent to all persons. He personalized a Religious experience to a spiritual power that can transform individuals. When he said "You have heard it said..., but I say unto you...." The personal but universal nature of his teachings speak to my condition and are but one
        example of individuals speaking of a power/spirit that can take one from self centeredness to a universal centeredness that can transform even the "Samaritan."

        Tom


        ----- Original Message ----
        From: Chris Burford <cburford@...>
        To: quf@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, June 6, 2008 5:10:28 PM
        Subject: Re: [quf] Second Coming


        I do not ignore this contribution, by Tom Smith, but it is hard to respond
        to, and thereby show it is heard.

        On the internet we cannot hear when a seed falls on stony ground, and I hope
        the ground does not seem stony.

        If you knew Lewis Benson as a friend for a number of years, Tom, then you
        knew him in a way that those of us who know him only by his writings cannot
        know him. And if the stub on Wikipedia is correct, he lived from 1906 to
        1986.

        He must have conveyed to those he met a sense of an immanent tranformed
        world, as some spiritually charged people do at various times in history and
        in various parts of the world. The New Foundation Fellowship in the USA and
        in the UK carries forward that message.

        He is one of a number of self-taught Quaker historians who find rich soil in
        early Quaker writings, which were of course Christian in their inspiration.
        But I am not always sure how well they are balanced side by side with other
        serious historical scholarship. During Britain's recent Yearly Meeting I
        went into the library in Euston Road and stumbled upon a detailed book on
        the Fifth Monarchy Men, from whom it appeared that Fox and other Quakers
        vigorously disassociated themselves, especially after the restoration of the
        monarchy.

        I think I find in Lewis Benson's writings a view that unifies somewhat too
        closely early Quaker writing, which inseparably links together the sense of
        the immediate direct communication with Christ within, with the early
        Christian concept of the second coming, leading to the kingdom of God on
        earth, together with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as far as we can
        discern what they probably were beneath the accretions of the early
        Christian church.

        I personally believe the many rich strands of spirituality associated with
        the name of Christianity are best viewed with respect from a universalist
        point of view, like other great spiritual traditions. Yet my recollection is
        that Lewis Benson argued strongly that the much loved Quaker phrase "that of
        God in everyone" must not be understood separately from a belief in the
        Christ Jesus. So his definition of what is catholic, universal, was
        different to that of universalists.

        But as to the task of building the kingdom, or the republic of God, on
        earth, yes, many Quakers now see this as an ongoing task, but perhaps
        without that inner radiance that has transformed their lives as a
        life-changing experience. Although sometimes it is.

        I hope these comments do not do your friend an injustice.

        Chris Burford

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Tom Smith" <tesmith44@yahoo. com>
        To: <quf@yahoogroups. com>
        Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 9:37 PM
        Subject: [quf] Second Coming

        |I am a little slow at catching up with the threads in quf as being a
        | relatively new member and having some major personal concerns at the
        | moment.
        |
        | However, I do want to respond briefly to the concept of the second
        | coming. It was my privilege to be a friend of Lewis Benson's for a
        | number of years and we had many discussions. One phrase that he
        | returned to on several occassions was that "Christ has come in all of
        | his offices." To me that met that all of the "second-coming" had been
        | fulfilled since Jesus spoke not of a physical kingdom but of a "kingdom
        | of heaven" as the kingdom comes as we do God's will on earth. ("Lord's
        | Prayer")
        |
        | I also heard my grandfather sya that was not concerned with going to a
        | better place, but that this place be better when he goes."
        |
        | Tom Smitih
        |
        |
        | ------------ --------- --------- ------
        |
        | Yahoo! Groups Links
        |
        |
        |





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Chris Burford
        Dear Tom I think that helps to understand. It sounds as if you had a valuable Quakerly friendship with Lewis Benson. But I suspect he did not have such a
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 9, 2008
          Dear Tom

          I think that helps to understand.

          It sounds as if you had a valuable Quakerly friendship with Lewis Benson.
          But I suspect he did not have such a universalist perspective as you
          yourself had, in understanding and appreciating his spiritual inspiration.

          I have in mind Lewis Benson's article arguing strongly (and persuasively up
          to a point) that "answering that of God in every one" did not mean the way
          it is taken by liberal universalist Quakers but had to be read in context of
          the clear Christian roots of Fox's theology.

          I think it is a mistaken argument because it is based fundamentally on
          Biblical theology rather than on direct personal spiritual experience, which
          was central to Fox too. In fact the phrase does not appear in the Bible but
          is only suggested by two passages depending on the translations.

          As so often, I suppose it depends on what context two people have in mind
          when they hear or read the same thing, or sit in silent waiting in the same
          room.

          Chris Burford
          North London


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Tom Smith" <tesmith44@...>
          To: <quf@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Saturday, June 07, 2008 2:23 PM
          Subject: Re: [quf] Second Coming


          | Chris,
          |
          | I certainly don't take your response to be from stony ground. I benefit
          from and "enjoy"the challenges/questions/wisdom of others as they are shared
          and find that there is so much more to learn and experience. I have often
          been told that my writing and speech is too straight forward and abrupt, but
          I try to speak from a sense of openness and trust that others will take what
          I say as a way to open direct conversation rather that place any sense of
          closure.
          |
          | Hopefully a quick response. I knew Lewis very well from 1972 - 1976 when
          we were both members of Manasquan MM. I have had difficulty at times
          identifying myself as a christian due to the exclusiveness of most
          "christians." Lewis had a very profound sense of the presence of "Christ."
          I believe he was convinced that the transforming power he knew could be
          directly connected to Jesus of Nazareth, as I do. For me this was not much
          of an issue because that same transforming power was seen in other
          individuals and the exclusiveness of the Gospels is not evident when looked
          at in context. I understand Jesus of Nazareth as being one who was
          transformed by a power/spirit that is available and immanent to all persons.
          He personalized a Religious experience to a spiritual power that can
          transform individuals. When he said "You have heard it said..., but I say
          unto you...." The personal but universal nature of his teachings speak to my
          condition and are but one
          | example of individuals speaking of a power/spirit that can take one from
          self centeredness to a universal centeredness that can transform even the
          "Samaritan."
          |
          | Tom
          |
          |
          | ----- Original Message ----
          | From: Chris Burford <cburford@...>
          | To: quf@yahoogroups.com
          | Sent: Friday, June 6, 2008 5:10:28 PM
          | Subject: Re: [quf] Second Coming
          |
          |
          | I do not ignore this contribution, by Tom Smith, but it is hard to
          respond
          | to, and thereby show it is heard.
          |
          | On the internet we cannot hear when a seed falls on stony ground, and I
          hope
          | the ground does not seem stony.
          |
          | If you knew Lewis Benson as a friend for a number of years, Tom, then you
          | knew him in a way that those of us who know him only by his writings
          cannot
          | know him. And if the stub on Wikipedia is correct, he lived from 1906 to
          | 1986.
          |
          | He must have conveyed to those he met a sense of an immanent tranformed
          | world, as some spiritually charged people do at various times in history
          and
          | in various parts of the world. The New Foundation Fellowship in the USA
          and
          | in the UK carries forward that message.
          |
          | He is one of a number of self-taught Quaker historians who find rich soil
          in
          | early Quaker writings, which were of course Christian in their
          inspiration.
          | But I am not always sure how well they are balanced side by side with
          other
          | serious historical scholarship. During Britain's recent Yearly Meeting I
          | went into the library in Euston Road and stumbled upon a detailed book on
          | the Fifth Monarchy Men, from whom it appeared that Fox and other Quakers
          | vigorously disassociated themselves, especially after the restoration of
          the
          | monarchy.
          |
          | I think I find in Lewis Benson's writings a view that unifies somewhat too
          | closely early Quaker writing, which inseparably links together the sense
          of
          | the immediate direct communication with Christ within, with the early
          | Christian concept of the second coming, leading to the kingdom of God on
          | earth, together with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as far as we can
          | discern what they probably were beneath the accretions of the early
          | Christian church.
          |
          | I personally believe the many rich strands of spirituality associated with
          | the name of Christianity are best viewed with respect from a universalist
          | point of view, like other great spiritual traditions. Yet my recollection
          is
          | that Lewis Benson argued strongly that the much loved Quaker phrase "that
          of
          | God in everyone" must not be understood separately from a belief in the
          | Christ Jesus. So his definition of what is catholic, universal, was
          | different to that of universalists.
          |
          | But as to the task of building the kingdom, or the republic of God, on
          | earth, yes, many Quakers now see this as an ongoing task, but perhaps
          | without that inner radiance that has transformed their lives as a
          | life-changing experience. Although sometimes it is.
          |
          | I hope these comments do not do your friend an injustice.
          |
          | Chris Burford
          |
          | ----- Original Message -----
          | From: "Tom Smith" <tesmith44@yahoo. com>
          | To: <quf@yahoogroups. com>
          | Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 9:37 PM
          | Subject: [quf] Second Coming
          |
          ||I am a little slow at catching up with the threads in quf as being a
          || relatively new member and having some major personal concerns at the
          || moment.
          ||
          || However, I do want to respond briefly to the concept of the second
          || coming. It was my privilege to be a friend of Lewis Benson's for a
          || number of years and we had many discussions. One phrase that he
          || returned to on several occassions was that "Christ has come in all of
          || his offices." To me that met that all of the "second-coming" had been
          || fulfilled since Jesus spoke not of a physical kingdom but of a "kingdom
          || of heaven" as the kingdom comes as we do God's will on earth. ("Lord's
          || Prayer")
          ||
          || I also heard my grandfather sya that was not concerned with going to a
          || better place, but that this place be better when he goes."
          ||
          || Tom Smitih
          ||
          ||
          || ------------ --------- --------- ------
          ||
          || Yahoo! Groups Links
          ||
          ||
          ||
          |
          |
          |
          |
          |
          | [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          |
          |
          | ------------------------------------
          |
          | Yahoo! Groups Links
          |
          |
          |
        • os cresson
          Universalism for me has always seemed to be about how we treat people we do not agree with, whether we are kind and helpful and whether we learn from each
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 10, 2008
            Universalism for me has always seemed to be about how we treat people we do not agree with, whether we are kind and helpful and whether we learn from each other.
            Paul Lacey told me that at the time Lewis Benson was being severely criticized by other Friends he said (and I paraphrase) that the one leading Quaker he could really talk with was Henry Cadbury. I wonder if Benson knew Cadbury was, in ways, personally agnostic about god and immortality. My guess is part of the price Cadbury paid for his effective listening was keeping his own views hidden (as he did with others).
            I am thankful to be living among Friends in a more open time.
            Os


            -- "Chris Burford" <cburford@...> wrote:

            Dear Tom

            I think that helps to understand.

            It sounds as if you had a valuable Quakerly friendship with Lewis Benson.
            But I suspect he did not have such a universalist perspective as you
            yourself had, in understanding and appreciating his spiritual inspiration.

            I have in mind Lewis Benson's article arguing strongly (and persuasively up
            to a point) that "answering that of God in every one" did not mean the way
            it is taken by liberal universalist Quakers but had to be read in context of
            the clear Christian roots of Fox's theology.

            I think it is a mistaken argument because it is based fundamentally on
            Biblical theology rather than on direct personal spiritual experience, which
            was central to Fox too. In fact the phrase does not appear in the Bible but
            is only suggested by two passages depending on the translations.

            As so often, I suppose it depends on what context two people have in mind
            when they hear or read the same thing, or sit in silent waiting in the same
            room.

            Chris Burford
            North London

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Tom Smith" <tesmith44@...>
            To: <quf@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Saturday, June 07, 2008 2:23 PM
            Subject: Re: [quf] Second Coming

            | Chris,
            |
            | I certainly don't take your response to be from stony ground. I benefit
            from and "enjoy"the challenges/questions/wisdom of others as they are shared
            and find that there is so much more to learn and experience. I have often
            been told that my writing and speech is too straight forward and abrupt, but
            I try to speak from a sense of openness and trust that others will take what
            I say as a way to open direct conversation rather that place any sense of
            closure.
            |
            | Hopefully a quick response. I knew Lewis very well from 1972 - 1976 when
            we were both members of Manasquan MM. I have had difficulty at times
            identifying myself as a christian due to the exclusiveness of most
            "christians." Lewis had a very profound sense of the presence of "Christ."
            I believe he was convinced that the transforming power he knew could be
            directly connected to Jesus of Nazareth, as I do. For me this was not much
            of an issue because that same transforming power was seen in other
            individuals and the exclusiveness of the Gospels is not evident when looked
            at in context. I understand Jesus of Nazareth as being one who was
            transformed by a power/spirit that is available and immanent to all persons.
            He personalized a Religious experience to a spiritual power that can
            transform individuals. When he said "You have heard it said..., but I say
            unto you...." The personal but universal nature of his teachings speak to my
            condition and are but one
            | example of individuals speaking of a power/spirit that can take one from
            self centeredness to a universal centeredness that can transform even the
            "Samaritan."
            |
            | Tom
            |
            |
            | ----- Original Message ----
            | From: Chris Burford <cburford@...>
            | To: quf@yahoogroups.com
            | Sent: Friday, June 6, 2008 5:10:28 PM
            | Subject: Re: [quf] Second Coming
            |
            |
            | I do not ignore this contribution, by Tom Smith, but it is hard to
            respond
            | to, and thereby show it is heard.
            |
            | On the internet we cannot hear when a seed falls on stony ground, and I
            hope
            | the ground does not seem stony.
            |
            | If you knew Lewis Benson as a friend for a number of years, Tom, then you
            | knew him in a way that those of us who know him only by his writings
            cannot
            | know him. And if the stub on Wikipedia is correct, he lived from 1906 to
            | 1986.
            |
            | He must have conveyed to those he met a sense of an immanent tranformed
            | world, as some spiritually charged people do at various times in history
            and
            | in various parts of the world. The New Foundation Fellowship in the USA
            and
            | in the UK carries forward that message.
            |
            | He is one of a number of self-taught Quaker historians who find rich soil
            in
            | early Quaker writings, which were of course Christian in their
            inspiration.
            | But I am not always sure how well they are balanced side by side with
            other
            | serious historical scholarship. During Britain's recent Yearly Meeting I
            | went into the library in Euston Road and stumbled upon a detailed book on
            | the Fifth Monarchy Men, from whom it appeared that Fox and other Quakers
            | vigorously disassociated themselves, especially after the restoration of
            the
            | monarchy.
            |
            | I think I find in Lewis Benson's writings a view that unifies somewhat too
            | closely early Quaker writing, which inseparably links together the sense
            of
            | the immediate direct communication with Christ within, with the early
            | Christian concept of the second coming, leading to the kingdom of God on
            | earth, together with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as far as we can
            | discern what they probably were beneath the accretions of the early
            | Christian church.
            |
            | I personally believe the many rich strands of spirituality associated with
            | the name of Christianity are best viewed with respect from a universalist
            | point of view, like other great spiritual traditions. Yet my recollection
            is
            | that Lewis Benson argued strongly that the much loved Quaker phrase "that
            of
            | God in everyone" must not be understood separately from a belief in the
            | Christ Jesus. So his definition of what is catholic, universal, was
            | different to that of universalists.
            |
            | But as to the task of building the kingdom, or the republic of God, on
            | earth, yes, many Quakers now see this as an ongoing task, but perhaps
            | without that inner radiance that has transformed their lives as a
            | life-changing experience. Although sometimes it is.
            |
            | I hope these comments do not do your friend an injustice.
            |
            | Chris Burford
            |
            | ----- Original Message -----
            | From: "Tom Smith" <tesmith44@yahoo. com>
            | To: <quf@yahoogroups. com>
            | Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 9:37 PM
            | Subject: [quf] Second Coming
            |
            ||I am a little slow at catching up with the threads in quf as being a
            || relatively new member and having some major personal concerns at the
            || moment.
            ||
            || However, I do want to respond briefly to the concept of the second
            || coming. It was my privilege to be a friend of Lewis Benson's for a
            || number of years and we had many discussions. One phrase that he
            || returned to on several occassions was that "Christ has come in all of
            || his offices." To me that met that all of the "second-coming" had been
            || fulfilled since Jesus spoke not of a physical kingdom but of a "kingdom
            || of heaven" as the kingdom comes as we do God's will on earth. ("Lord's
            || Prayer")
            ||
            || I also heard my grandfather sya that was not concerned with going to a
            || better place, but that this place be better when he goes."
            ||
            || Tom Smitih
            ||
            ||
            || ------------ --------- --------- ------
            ||
            || Yahoo! Groups Links
            ||
            ||
            ||
            |
            |
            |
            |
            |
            | [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            |
            |
            | ------------------------------------
            |
            | Yahoo! Groups Links
            |
            |
            |



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • George Amoss
            Chris, I think it s evident from the writings of Fox and other early Quakers that their inward experience was chronologically secondary to and thoroughly
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 14, 2008
              Chris, I think it's evident from the writings of Fox and other early Quakers that their inward experience was chronologically secondary to and thoroughly shaped by the scriptures. The idea that their inner experiences could be divorced from the scripture in which the Friends were immersed is not credible: the human brain doesn't work like that. Fox claimed to have arrived at his central insight -- that the Light of Christ enlightens everyone, and that salvation requires that one believe in that Light and allow it to make one its "child" -- through inward revelation: "The Lord God opened [it] to me by his invisible power...." He even claimed that at the time he didn't know where to find that insight in scripture. All of that says to me simply that Fox, who certainly knew John 1:9 very well and considered it central, had an insight (at some point or points: intra-textual evidence indicates to me that the chronology of the Journal can be unreliable) that
              allowed him to further develop the radical interpretation of scripture that he'd already "discovered" some time earlier.

              Fox's theology didn't simply have Christian roots: the entire plant, from roots to the tip of every leaf, was thoroughly Christian and biblical. So I don't think Benson was wrong to base his interpretations of Fox on what you've called "Biblical theology." The question would seem to be how close his biblical hermeneutic was to Fox's.

              I agree that context is important. But we need to apply that to Fox and other early Friends as well: they must be permitted to remain in their actual context. Fox's context, inner and outer, was biblical. When he spoke of inner experience, he sometimes meant insights into the meaning of biblical passages, images, or concepts. At other times, he meant the primary Quaker experience of the reality of Christ the Light's transforming work in the heart. At no time did he teach that inner experience divorced from that biblical context -- which includes, of course, the peculiar Friends hermeneutic -- should be seen as a reliable guide. (The experience even of those who had never heard of the Bible was to be judged by the standards of the love described in scripture.) That's why Quakers always insisted that their experiences, beliefs, and practices conformed to scripture "rightly understood."

              For the first Friends, salvation is primary, and salvation is a matter of experiencing all of life in a very specific new way: through the eyes of the love we see embodied in Jesus. For the Friends, truth is not a cognitive datum or an intuitive experience; it is "a new heart." The presence of that particular new heart, the heart of Christ, is always evidenced by the practice of the kind of love that Jesus lived and taught.

              Tom, I have just completed an essay that addresses the "The Psychology of Salvation" in early Quakerism. (My editor has it; its fate is not yet determined.) I agree completely that early Quakerism was a religion of transformation (which was for them equivalent to salvation), of a fundamental change from, as you put it, "self centeredness to a universal centeredness," and that Fox and others believed that the same inner spiritual power that animated Jesus can animate us. (And therein is the transformation; until then, we're operating under "the world's" power.) It must be of us as it was, according to Nayler, of Christ: "in that work he was found ... contrary to his own will; only submitting to the moving of the Spirit of the Father that dwelt in him, by which alone he was guided and furnished to every good work."

              There are many "spirits," many types of inner religious experience. Fox and the first Quakers maintained adamantly that only one such experience is salvific: that of "the moving of the Spirit" of love that "dwells" in our hearts and is exemplified in the nature and ethic of Jesus the Christ. "That of God" in us is specifically that spirit and no other -- and that's why universalist, atheist Friends like me still need the Bible and the first Friends.

              -- George Amoss


              --- On Mon, 6/9/08, Chris Burford <cburford@...> wrote:

              > From: Chris Burford <cburford@...>
              > Subject: Re: [quf] Second Coming
              > To: quf@yahoogroups.com
              > Date: Monday, June 9, 2008, 5:57 PM
              > Dear Tom
              >
              > I think that helps to understand.
              >
              > It sounds as if you had a valuable Quakerly friendship with
              > Lewis Benson.
              > But I suspect he did not have such a universalist
              > perspective as you
              > yourself had, in understanding and appreciating his
              > spiritual inspiration.
              >
              > I have in mind Lewis Benson's article arguing strongly
              > (and persuasively up
              > to a point) that "answering that of God in every
              > one" did not mean the way
              > it is taken by liberal universalist Quakers but had to be
              > read in context of
              > the clear Christian roots of Fox's theology.
              >
              > I think it is a mistaken argument because it is based
              > fundamentally on
              > Biblical theology rather than on direct personal spiritual
              > experience, which
              > was central to Fox too. In fact the phrase does not appear
              > in the Bible but
              > is only suggested by two passages depending on the
              > translations.
              >
              > As so often, I suppose it depends on what context two
              > people have in mind
              > when they hear or read the same thing, or sit in silent
              > waiting in the same
              > room.
              >
              > Chris Burford
              > North London
              >
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: "Tom Smith" <tesmith44@...>
              > To: <quf@yahoogroups.com>
              > Sent: Saturday, June 07, 2008 2:23 PM
              > Subject: Re: [quf] Second Coming
              >
              >
              > | Chris,
              > |
              > | I certainly don't take your response to be from stony
              > ground. I benefit
              > from and "enjoy"the challenges/questions/wisdom
              > of others as they are shared
              > and find that there is so much more to learn and
              > experience. I have often
              > been told that my writing and speech is too straight
              > forward and abrupt, but
              > I try to speak from a sense of openness and trust that
              > others will take what
              > I say as a way to open direct conversation rather that
              > place any sense of
              > closure.
              > |
              > | Hopefully a quick response. I knew Lewis very well from
              > 1972 - 1976 when
              > we were both members of Manasquan MM. I have had difficulty
              > at times
              > identifying myself as a christian due to the exclusiveness
              > of most
              > "christians." Lewis had a very profound sense of
              > the presence of "Christ."
              > I believe he was convinced that the transforming power he
              > knew could be
              > directly connected to Jesus of Nazareth, as I do. For me
              > this was not much
              > of an issue because that same transforming power was seen
              > in other
              > individuals and the exclusiveness of the Gospels is not
              > evident when looked
              > at in context. I understand Jesus of Nazareth as being one
              > who was
              > transformed by a power/spirit that is available and
              > immanent to all persons.
              > He personalized a Religious experience to a spiritual power
              > that can
              > transform individuals. When he said "You have heard it
              > said..., but I say
              > unto you...." The personal but universal nature of his
              > teachings speak to my
              > condition and are but one
              > | example of individuals speaking of a power/spirit that
              > can take one from
              > self centeredness to a universal centeredness that can
              > transform even the
              > "Samaritan."
              > |
              > | Tom
            • Tom Smith
              I have been following the dialog on this topic since I, apparently, started a review of what had been an old topic. My intent was not to imply any
              Message 6 of 7 , Jun 24, 2008
                I have been following the dialog on this topic since I, apparently, started a review of what had been an "old topic." My intent was not to imply any authoritarianism on my or Lewis Benson's part, but rather to explore the growth and development ("continuing revelation") of a concept that was brought to me very powerfully by Lewis. As Chris pointed out earlier I did have a good relationship with Lewis and probably have gone much further into universalism than maybe Lewis did or would have done.

                However, now my own interpretation is that the authority, that which "speaks to my condition, claimed by early Friends was also to be found in the "Jew and the Turk." As I have explored other religious/spiritual, and even non-religious, traditions I have become clearer on the concept that "the authority," if one chooses to call it that, which I seek is that which "speaks" to all persons for the benefit of all. Thus I find great inspiration in the writings of many faiths and find that given various individuals inclinations, various writings "speak" more clearly to some than others.

                On of my main interests in maintaining a "catholic quakerism" (non-capitals intended) is that the proactive approach of the gospels speaks to my condition. I see the need to "take away" the occasions of war, to DO unto others, etc. as I call that is needed in the world. I am aware of an "active" Buddhism that also speaks strongly to me. I personally need MUCH MORE of the contemplative, open, waiting, patient, centering, etc. "spirit" but I am concerned with leaving the world a better place for my children and grandchildren. That is my understanding of the "coming of the Kingdom of God." The "second" coming, or where I am "gong" after death really are not on my "radar screen."

                In Peace and Friendship,

                Tom


                ----- Original Message ----
                From: Charley Earp <charley63@...>
                To: quf@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:03:40 AM
                Subject: Re: that of God Re: [quf] Second Coming


                I want to thank George for helping me see that my judgment that some early Friends were biblical literalists, including Fox, may not be fully accurate. However, I would point out that symbolic, interiorist views of the Second Coming have been around since at least St Augustine. That did not preclude Augustine from being literalist about the gospel narratives or other parts of scripture.

                What concerns me more than the actual facts about Fox's interpretative approach is the implicit appeal to authority. If we can prove that Fox and Co were non-literalists, does that give modern Universalist Quakers some automatic legitimacy, even superiority to the more literalist Quakers around us? We are closer to Fox now? I know that nothing said so far directly claims such superiority, but my only interest in early Friends' finer points of theology is historical, not as authorities that prove that my modern Quaker viewpoint is legitimate.

                Even when I read the passage from Fox quoted below, I still see an excess reliance on the Bible. To speak of "rubbish...found in man's heart" is to buy into the sin-redemption soteriology that was originated by St Paul and expanded by St Augustine into some sort of metaphysical blot on every human soul that could only be cleansed by Jesus' bloody execution. I do have a reading of Jesus' execution which I think has powerful theological significance even for universalist Quakers, but it has nothing to do with the idea of substitutionary atonement.

                I became a universalist because I was finding a great deal of truth in the writings of non-Christians. I know that Quakerism emerged from Christian traditions and will likely be part of that for a long time to come. However, I don't find digging into Christianity a major piece of my spiritual work. I spend more time with secular and Buddhist writings these days.

                I'm not saying that this list has to avoid discussing Christian topics, I simply would hope that we can go places in our discussions of a (post)modern Quakerism that Quaker-L, for example, can't go due to the strident Christian voices on that list.

                Peace! Charley

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: George Amoss
                Sent: Monday, June 23, 2008 11:30 PM
                To focus on just one point of agreement for now, that Friends were not biblical literalists: one of my favorite passages to illustrate that is the following from Fox's Journal, which makes reference mainly to Isaiah 40 but also to Deuteronomy 32, Genesis 2, and 1 Corinthians 15 -- and probably more!
                "I saw also the mountains burning up, and the rubbish, the rough, crooked ways and places made smooth and plain, that the Lord might come into his tabernacle. These things are to be found in man's heart; but to speak of these things being within seemed strange to the rough, crooked, and mountainous ones. Yet the Lord saith, 'O earth, hear the word of the Lord!'"
                "Earth" is the meaning of "Adam." (See also 1Cor. 15:47: "the first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.") And of course "the word of the Lord" is Christ, "the hidden man of the heart," "that of God in every one." Fox makes all of the sources apply to inward experience, even to implying that "O earth" addresses not the planet but the unregenerate human (as "of humus") being.
                Fox's exegesis was highly metaphorical and sometimes as fanciful as that of Paul, who no doubt was a model for him.

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