Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
As I promised, here is a beginning of sharing references from Fox. This one is entitled A Distinction Between The Two Suppers and is about 6 pages long, so I have placed in the Online Resources under the Resources tab above. You can either go there for it or use this link: http://nffquaker.org/page/a-distinction-between-the-two-suppers. It is a rich and rewarding read.
If you have comments to make, please leave them on this blog post. The above page will not accept comments. Also note: the text may have some errors that I have missed. So if the text absolutely does not make sense, it might be the fault of an error that needs correcting.
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Hi Ellis. I had read this excerpt several days ago in Volume 6 of Fox’s Works and, without referring directly to it, commented on it on Bill Carsley’s blog (3rdMo. 25, 2015 at 15:37).
The only further thing I might add is that believers in Jesus have been partaking of the sufferings and death of the Lord for centuries, and are still doing so in our day, so it cannot be that He is come in the sense Paul had in mind when he wrote 1 Cor. 11:26. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew (proclaim) the Lord’s death till He come.” When that coming comes, there will be no further opportunity for believers to suffer with Christ and “proclaim the Lord’s death,” for He will have come in glory.
And so the “coming” Fox referred to in Rev. 3:20 (which is related to Rev. 1:13-18) cannot be the same coming Paul speaks of in 1 Cor. 11:26. Believers to this day continue to fellowship in the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus. Therefore I am convinced that what Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 11:26 is still valid, bearing in mind the whole context of 1 Cor. 11:17-34).
I know, Ellis, that you are aware of the high regard I have for George Fox. My esteem for him is not lessened by the awareness that there are points of doctrine in which I feel he missed the mind of Christ. Whenever I face something like that concerning any man, I have the responsibility, and the privilege, of adhering to Christ Himself my teacher, who has given us the Holy Scriptures that bear witness to Him.
While I respect Allan greatly as a brother in Christ, I cannot necessarily agree with his view that the fact that Christians are still suffering in this world rules out a First Century end to the validity of the material memorial meal). I think he reads too much into the meaning of Paul's words to "proclaim the Lord's death" (and I feel certain that he doesn't hold this against me!).
But I still maintain that the only plausible way to reconcile "Paul with Paul" on this matter (and to affirm that Fox was correct to see that the memorial meal had become obsolete by the time John received his Revelation) is by viewing it from a preterist perspective. Ellis, it's true that Fox predominantly argues for the obsolescence of the material meal by focusing on its inadequacy compared to our real spiritual communion with Chirst. My point however remains that some of Fox's references (like that which I have already highlighted in my posts) can legitimately be understood as affirming a preterist timing for the "coming" which Paul had anticipated in the mid fifties AD (1 Cor. 11:26). I am affirming Fox here.
It is not necessary to show that Fox always used a preterist angle in his discussions of this topic. He clearly did not. I am in perfect agreement with you on that, Ellis. I'm just asking you to acknolwedge that the preterist element can be seen in Fox at times, and that it serves a very helpful purpose in giving us a fuller understanding of Fox's vision of Christ's coming (and an even more solid basis for abandoning eucharistic practices from the time of the Revelation onward).
You see, I'm proposing something that seems a bit foreign and off base to all of you right now because it is new. I simply offer it to you, Ellis, and to Allan, and to Pat, for your honest consideration. I do it because I believe it is important to the mission and goals of NFF. And I love all of you whether you agree with me or not! (Of course I also hope there may be others out there who are following this discussion and are willing to fairly consider my proposal - I'd love to hear from them!). I do want to thank you again sincerely for the open forum and hospitality you've provided here, Ellis. I really respect you for that.
Allan, Thank you for your comments. I know you do not see eye to eye with Fox on this subject. There are some questions I want to ask, but I don't know that you need feel compelled to answer them.
Whether or not you wish to make answers to these question. I am glad you have taken the time to comment and I hope to consider the above.
Bill, You cannot promote the truth by adopting a false position. I do not reject the Preterist view because it is something new to me. I reject it because it does not represent Fox and the early Quakers. While there may be some surface similarities between the Preterist's point of view and how Fox treats the coming of Christ. That is all they are: surface similarities. The fundamental dynamic of Fox's Christology is, "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life--and the Word was manifested and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us--what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also." Fox's Christology is based on his experience of Christ and openings he received from Christ.
You have expressed your hope that by adopting a Preterist stance we could reach more of the "Christian" world with Fox's message. That would be a falsehood, a misrepresentation of Fox and the early Quakers. By the power of the everlasting gospel one in every hundred Englishmen became a Quaker during the period of Fox's lifetime. By the power of the everlasting gospel alone will people be reached today. Put your trust in nothing else. If you have experienced this power to shake the earth within you till only that which cannot be shaken remains, if you have experienced this, do not turn away from it. You cannot enhance it by all the lies of the serpent.
Allan and Bill:
Neither of you has responded in any meaningful way to the point I raised under Bill's earlier thread, "Who's Standing in the Gap?":
That point is, since by virtue of your being Christians, you have invited Christ in to sup with you and to speak to you, what is the purpose of this endless debate about when he came, whether or not he came, what the Bible says about when he came (or is to come)? And now, added to this debate is a further argument about which religious procedures we are to follow or not follow. How does all this debating help us hear him now, when he is trying to speak to us but is being drowned out?
Good intentions and a desire to make oneself understood won't help anybody if it is obscuring the voice of our present Teacher and Guide.
Becky, I have no interest in pursuing "endless debate" about this matter. If we can't pursue this as a respectful discussion among those who are interested in truth (not in mere academics), I have no desire to be part of it. I think that is the very answer to your question. I for one want to hear what Christ is saying to me, and don't assume that I have already heard all that He has to say to me on these matters. I take my position along with the apostle Paul, who said, "we know in part." So I want to continue to be teachable-- by discerning the voice of Him who is my present Teacher and Guide, and following Him.
Is it possible He Himself is trying to speak regarding the keeping of the Lord's supper? Let each of us on both "sides" of this "debate" be careful to recognize that He may be "trying to speak to us but is being drowned out."
Ellis, I do hope to have something by way of a response to the questions you asked me.
Ellis, here are the responses to your questions. I have first stated your question so that others might find this comment easier to follow.
1. “You state that you don't think Fox had the mind of Christ on the matter of the bread and wine. By what means have you arrived at having the mind of Christ?”
Thank you, Ellis, I do seek to apprehend the mind of Christ on all things. And I seek to do it by searching out the Scriptures, as George Fox did. George Fox could hardly think without quoting Scripture. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God [is God breathed] and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...” (2 Tim. 3:16).
And so on this matter we are discussing, I set forth the contradiction between what George Fox taught, and what the apostle Paul taught. Fox, quoting from Scripture, took his stand on the basis of words Jesus spoke to the church of Laodicea. He viewed that as a “coming” of Christ that abrogated the Lord’s supper. I am not convinced that it is right to teach that this is the “coming” Paul had in mind when he said that in keeping the Lord’s supper, “you do shew the Lord’s death till He come.” I have set forth my reasons, quoting from Scripture, in previous posts.
2. “Fox labored in the gospel for his entire adult life, having ample time for Christ to correct him if he were mistaken. Do you find any evidence of hardness of heart in Fox which would indicate his turning away from Christ's correction?”
No, I don’t see evidence of hardness of heart in our beloved George Fox. But I do see occasional evidence of one who knew “in part.”
3. “If you find no evidence of hardness of heart, and if Fox was mistaken in this matter, why did Christ fail to correct him in something that you deem so important?”
That is a good question. Are you aware of William Booth and the Salvation Army? Like the Quakers, they too did not observe water baptism or the Lord’s supper. Yet in the early days of the Salvation Army (in the 19th century), they were used mightily by the Lord to reach the lost. And like the Quakers, they were greatly scorned by the religious establishment. Consider also the early (18th century) Methodists. They observed baptism by sprinkling, which is entirely unscriptural. Yet the Lord was very much with the early Methodists, who also found themselves in trouble with the religious establishment. So it appears that the Lord did not “correct” any of these groups concerning their short sightedness. It must be because of His great patience in dealing with men who “know in part.” This, of course, does not mean that in matters essential to the living faith He is willing to do the same.
4. “Did Fox feed upon the living bread?”
Yes. So did the Corinthians who also partook of the Lord’s supper. In fact Paul says that they themselves had become “living bread,” for they were partakers of that bread (1 Cor. 10:17). Ellis, Paul did not teach that the one replaces the other. To observe the Lord’s supper apart from being in the spiritual reality of “the communion [fellowship] of the blood of Christ, and “the communion [fellowship] of the body of Christ,” is apostasy. It could even result in sickness or death (1 Cor. 11:30).
5. “By what power did Fox attain life, as amply testified to by numerous witness and the crowning of his testimony with cruel sufferings cheerfully borne and overcome?”
I am not sure I understand why you are asking this of me. I don’t stand in doubt of the power of Christ that worked in him, nor his willingness to cheerfully suffer evil along with the Gospel.
Ellis, I am not feeling to pursue this further. I have set forth my understanding out of an honest heart, and am willing to walk with others who view this matter differently. Do we love the Light? That is the main thing for me. As we all seek to walk in the Light "unto the perfect day," all things will become more and more clear.
Ellis, I have no argument with you that it's only "by the power of the everlasting gospel" that people are converted and convinced. But if there's no place for biblical apologetics in the mission of Christ-centered Quakerism then Barclay's Apology was also written in vain, and it too was a misguided effort. Are you willing to criticize him as well?
I agree with Becky (and Allan) that there is no point in debating endlessly over this issue. Ellis, you, and some others here at NFF, clearly see no light in my proposal (and that's ok). I continue to believe that God has given me something that has real merit, and a great potential for good, in making Christ-centered Quakerism more accessible to the wider world, just as Barclay's efforts did in the 17th Century. You and I just plain disagree about that. I sincerely thank anyone here at NFF (or beyond) who has carefully followed this discussion, for being willing to honestly consider the merits of my proposal.
Now let me say clearly that unless I hear from someone who can see potential light in my proposal, my discussion of this topic on this venue will end right here. Sincere thanks again to the NFF community for the window of opportunity you have provided me for sharing my heart. I wish you all well...
Friend and Brother, Bill
I can do no better than to remind you of something you said awhile back on one of our Fox reading conference calls. At the time, I felt (and still feel) that you were absolutely right; you summed up the matter perfectly in a single sentence:
Someone on the call had asked a question about the "plain speech." After some discussion about it, including who might or might not be called to practice it and why, you said, "It will never fill anyone with a burning zeal to know the Lord."
Allan, Now, having asked you these questions and having received your answers, I have felt it necessary to make some response. However, I am also feeling like I can't trespass here.
Rather than just drop this. I am constrained to point out something, which I am sure you know. But for the sake of any others who may read this thread, I need to state that we can know these things. We have one given to us to teach us how to live pleasing to the Father. This is one of the functions of Christ as he is present in the midst of those who gather in his name. We are not left comfortless, without guidance.
Thanks for your response.