Friday, May 23, 2008

Open Response to Ken Silva's Attacks on Friends' (Quaker) Theology

Well, I am going to do something that I have never done, and absolutely do not have time to do: Post a rebuttal to a Reformed Pastor's criticisms of the doctrines of the Religous Society of Friends in general and Richard Foster in particular. I do not know if he or others will respond. If my response to responses is slow, please know that I am in the midst of a major film project, which must take precedence. However, I did think the post was worth addressing -not only because of it's misinformation, but because of it's very unloving presentation.

His original post can be found here, though I believe I do respond to the entire article. His words will be in white, my responses in red.

RICHARD FOSTER AND QUAKER INNER LIGHT

Silva:
This article is to help you understand the very real threat to the true Gospel of Jesus
Christ that Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster brings through his corrupt teachings on Contemplative Spirituality. To fully do so, being that Foster himself is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), we must first shed some additional light on the unique Quaker doctrine of "the Inner Light."

Ramsey:
Far from providing the help you intended, the article provides misrepresentations and straw men (or straw devils, rather) of the beliefs of the Religous Society of Friends in general, and George Fox and Richard Foster in particular. This rebuttal is to help your readers, and possibly you, understand the correct meaning of Quaker beliefs and their Biblical foundation.

Silva:
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. (John 1:9-10)

While discussing their entry George Fox: Epistles to the New World and to Friends
Everywhere in TLT we?re told:

"George Fox (1624-1691) was the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). He
preached reliance on the “Inner Light”, the Holy Spirit watching from within; in this he represented a development of the Puritan “spirit mystic” tradition. He believed that everyone has a divine spark within that can respond directly and personally to God. His plain open style has a peculiar force in enthusiasm and moral earnestness. (379,380, emphasis mine)"

Ramsey:
This quote presents three beliefs by George Fox, all of which have biblical support: The Inner Light (John 1:9), unmediated revelation to Christians directly from the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), man's GOD-GIVEN ability to do virtuous deeds and to respond to God's (and the Scriptures many) earnest pleas of salvation (John 6, Col 1:23, Rom 2:14-15).

Silva:
This false idea of an inner light, or a "divine spark," which is supposedly in every
person is a very key issue to grasp before one can come to understand the root of the flawed semi-pelagian "gospel" of the new evangelicalism within which Foster has now become a major player.

Ramsey:
Supposedly? Does John 1:9 say "There was the true Light which, coming into the
world, SUPPOSEDLY enlightens every man?"

Also, in his book, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, early Quaker apologist Robert Barclay emphatically asserts Quakers rejection of the Pelegian and Semi-Pelegian errors:

"THE FOURTH PROPOSITION
Concerning the Condition of Man in the Fall

"All Adam's posterity (or mankind), both Jews and Gentiles, as to the first Adam (or
earthly man), is fallen, degenerated, and dead; deprived of the sensation (or feeling) of this inward testimony or seed of God; and is subject unto the power, nature, power, nature, and seed of the serpent, which he soweth in men's hearts, while they abide in this natural and corrupted estate: from whence it comes that not only their words and deeds but all their imaginations are evil perpetually in the sight of God, as proceeding from this depraved and wicked seed. Man therefore, as he is in this state, can know nothing aright; yea his thoughts and conceptions concerning God and things spiritual, until he be disjoined from this evil seed and united to the Divine Light, are unprofitable both to himself and others. Hence are rejected the Socinian and Pelagian errors in exalting a natural light, as also of the Papists and most of Protestants, who affirm that man without the true grace of God may be a true minister of the Gospel."

AND

"But the cause of this doth evidently appear in that the way and method by which the virtue and efficacy of his death is communicated to all men hath not been rightly
understood, or indeed hath been erroneously affirmed. The Pelagians, ascribing all to man's will and nature, denied man to have any seed of sin conveyed to him from Adam. And the Semi-Pelagians, making grace as a gift following upon man's merit or right improving of his nature, according to their known principle, Facienti quod in se est Deus non denegat gratiam." This gave Augustine, Prosper, and some others occasion, labouring in opposition to these opinions, to magnify the grace of God and paint out the corruption of man's nature, as the proverb is of those that seek to make straight a crooked stick, to incline to the other extreme.”

AND

"Sixthly, it (Quaker theology regarding reconciliation) contradicts, overturns, and
enervates, the false doctrine of the Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Socinians, and others, who exalt the light of nature, the liberty of man's will, in that it wholly excludes the natural man from having any place or portion in his own salvation, by any acting, moving, or working of his own, until he be first quickened, raised up, and actuated by God's Spirit." (Emphasis Mine)

You are making accusations that were proven false nearly 400 years ago.

Silva:
I cover this spiritually fatal idea of "a divine spark" allegedly in all of mankind
further in The Emergent "One", but here I tell you in the Lord this idea is classic
Gnostic mysticism, which itself has already been condemned within the pages of the New Testament itself. Particularly in the Book of Colossians and 1 John.

Ramsey:
The Apostle John penned the verse from which Quakers derive the term "Inner Light." Is John divided? Should he condemn his own writing as Gnosticism?

John often took on the charge of refuting Gnosticism. In so doing, John often twists and toys with Gnostic language to subvert their beliefs. If Quakers sound like Gnostics to you, then it is either because Quakers derived doctrinal terms from John who uses Gnostic terminology to subvert Gnosticism, or because you prejudicially assume that only Gnostics describe spiritual issues in terms of light and darkness.

This accusation (Inner Light as Gnosticism) needs more explanation.

Silva:
The Inner Light Is In Mankind Regardless Of Regeneration

Ramsey:
It is important to note that the Quakers emphatically denied that the inner light makes man righteous or justified before God. They simply believed that it enabled him to hear God's call to salvation or to do what Paul describes in Romans 2:14-16:

"For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus."

Man, though innately sinful, has a God-given knowledge of right and wrong that can be embraced or suppressed. Those who embrace it and follow it can eventually come to a saving knowledge of the Truth. Those who suppress it suffer various consequences. (Rom 1:18-32)

Silva:
Now we go to the Handbook Of Denominations In The United States for a bit more of an historic perspective concerning the mystic Fox:

The Society of Friends began with the vision of George Fox (1624-91), a British
seeker after spiritual truth and peace during the turmoil of the English Civil War and
its aftermath. After failing to find satisfactory truth and peace in the churches of his
time, Fox discovered what he sought in a direct personal relationship with Christ?

"When all my hopes in [churches] were gone? I heard a voice which said, ?That is the Inner Voice, or Inner Light, based upon the description of John 1:9: the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (KJV) This voice, Fox maintained, is available to all and has nothing to do with the ceremonies, rituals, or creeds over which Christians have fought. Every heart is Gods altar and shrine (140,141, emphasis mine).

Ramsey:
Finally. A quote from an actual Quaker -second handed though it may be.

Silva:
This idea in Quaker theology that every man has what Fox described as "the Inner Light" is further corroborated in GREAT RELIGIONS of the World which tells us that Fox "insisted that the 'light of Christ' glimmered in all men" (375, emphasis mine). You should be able to see that if this "inner light of Christ" is already supposed to be glimmering "in every human heart," then we have effectively done away with the need for the doctrine of being "born again," or regenerated by God the Holy Spirit through personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Ramsey:
Your allegation that Quakers believe in an Inner Light needs no corroboration. It is something any knowledgeable Quaker will gladly admit. What needs corroboration, from an actual Quaker, is your accusation that we believe the "Inner Light" makes man righteous or justified before God or supports Palegian and Semi-Palegian errors -all of which the Quakers adamantly deny.

You will not find such corroboration. What you can easily find, however, is 400 years of your accusation being denied. To say that God gives light, or a seed of grace to all men is not the same as saying that all men are justified before God. Thus, the inner light does not negate the need for Jesus' redeeming death. The light merely provides the means by which man can comprehend that death's significance and his own sin. If having the seed of Adam (sin) does not damn Christians, having the seed of Christ does not save non-Christians.

Here's more from Quaker Apologist Robert Barclay:
“GOD, out of his infinite love, who delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but that all
should live and be saved, hath so loved the world, that he hath given his only Son a Light, that whosoever believeth in him shall be saved (John 3:16), "who enlighteneth EVERY man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9), and "maketh manifest all things that are reprovable" (Eph. 5:13), and teacheth all temperance, righteousness, and godliness; and this Light enlighteneth the hearts of all in a day, in order to salvation; and this is it which reproves the sin of all individuals, and would work out the salvation of all, IF NOT RESISTED. Nor is it less universal than the seed of sin, being the purchase of his death, "who tasted death for every man: for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22).” (Bold emphasis mine)
AND
Seventhly, As it (Quaker doctrine of reconciliation) makes the whole salvation of man solely and alone to depend upon God, so it makes his condemnation wholly and in every respect to be of himself, in that he refused and resisted somewhat that from God wrestled and strove in his heart; and forces him to acknowledge God's just judgment in rejecting him and forsaking of him.
The early Quakers agreed with the Reformers' belief that man's salvation is completely dependent on God alone. They disagreed with the Calvinism’s unavoidable implication that God alone is responsible for man's damnation and ultimately the author of sin.

Silva:
And then in his classic two volume set A History Of Christianity (AHOC) the great
historian Kenneth Scott Latourette adds a bit more critical background information about the person through whom the Quakers originated:

Their founder was George Fox (1624-1691). Of humble birth, from boyhood he had heard Puritan preaching and had acquired an intimate familiarity with the text of the English Bible. For four years he suffered severe spiritual depression induced by the spectacle of human suffering, and by the doctrine of predestination which he heard expounded from Puritan pulpits. By temperament a mystic, he was eager for direct and unhindered access to God.

Eventually (1647) the light broke. He came to feel Christ could speak to “his
condition,” “He believed that God is love and truth and that it is possible for all men so to open their lives to Him” [Fox] would follow and have others follow the Inner Light? (Vol. II, p. 822, emphasis mine)

Ramsey:
This narrative omits a key part of Fox's disillusionment with the prominent religions of his day: the disconnect between Christians stated beliefs and their actual practices. And this wasn't just in reference to licentiousness. He noticed that while people professed faith in a loving God, they did not exemplify a loving spirit. Please take that to heart when writing your next article on the Quakers or the Emerging Movement.

Silva:
Theology Based On Personal Experience

This above information is also extremely important regarding the spiritual excesses of the Quakers, which are now finding their way into evangelicalism through Richard Foster.

Ramsey:
To label Quakers as spirituality "excessive" is ironic for many reasons. One, simplicity is a core Quaker testimony. In fact, Richard Foster has a book called "Freedom of Simplicity." You might as well call Quakers "warmongers." Two, as your quotes stated earlier, Quakers place little to no value on ceremony, rituals, or sacraments -partly because they considered them excessive, and often superficial. Third, "excessive" is probably a better description of some the Puritians, whom you so frequently commend and who subverted the gospel for political power, tyrannically ruled England for decades, and hung Quakers for setting foot in Boston and for alleging being witches.

Silva:
To better understand what Foster is actually teaching it's important to be able to see that an heretical view of mysticism is already rooted in the base theology of the Quakers. Their founder George Fox, who was himself prone to a mystic approach to spirituality, wished for a "personal" approach "to God" that ended up being a rejection of the proper spirituality taught in the Bible.

Ramsey:
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is with us until the end of the world (Mat 28:20),
that He dwells in us (Col 1:27), that the Holy Spirit has come to lead us into all Truth
(Jhn 16:13, Acts 2:1-4, Eph 1:13-14), and that Jesus' sheep know His voice and follow Him (John 10:3-4,12,27). So, how exactly is listening for Jesus' voice and being led by the Spirit (in other words, taking a personal approach to God) incompatible with "the proper spirituality taught in the Bible?"

Silva:
As such Fox began with his theology already turned backward by believing that it is man who seeks after God

Ramsey:
Already addressed.

Silva:
and as a result the Scriptures were forced to take a back seat to his own personal way of approaching the Lord.

Ramsey:
No. If anything the Scriptures were given a back seat to their author, the Holy Spirit,
which is their proper place.

Silva:
We need to very carefully consider the above information. Fox is seeking a “direct” and “mystical experience” with God. Admirable yes, but it is the LORD God Almighty “the glorious and transcendent Creator of the universe” Who set the prescribed means of interacting with us through conscious prayer and His Words in Holy Scripture.

Ramsey:
And as stated earlier, His words and Holy Scripture teach that Jesus Christ is with us until the end of the world (Mat 28:20), that He dwells in us (Col 1:27), that the Holy Spirit has come to lead us into all Truth (Jhn 16:13, Acts 2:1-4, Eph 1:13-14), and that Jesus sheep know His voice and follow Him (John 10:3-4,12,27). So, not only were Fox's desires admirable, they were Biblical.

Silva:
To understand this doctrine of the "Inner Light," so foundational to the Quakers, is to
understand the reason why you will hear so many who practice Contemplative Spirituality
and more and more leaders caught up in this new spirituality of the new evangelicalism
saying that men will be saved whether they “know” Jesus Christ or not. What I have done
for you here is to directly trace back one of these things taught by demons to its origin
in the Gnostic mysticism which has resurfaced through deceiving spirits like George Fox.

Ramsey:
The early Quakers did teach that some men could be saved without having outward knowledge of Jesus Christ because the Gospel has already been preached to every creature under heaven (Col 1:23). They did not teach that you can have outward knowledge of Him, reject Him, and yet still be saved by Him.

Again, here is Robert Barclay:
For as we believe all those things to have been certainly transacted which are recorded in the holy Scriptures, concerning the birth, life, miracles, sufferings, resurrection and ascension of Christ; so we do also believe, that it is the duty of everyone to believe it to whom it pleases God to reveal the same, and to bring to them the knowledge of it; yea we believe it were damnable unbelief not to believe, when so declared…Nevertheless as we firmly believe it was necessary that Christ should come, that by his death and sufferings he might offer up himself a sacrifice to God, for our sins, who his own self "bore our sins in his own body on the tree"; so we believe, that the remission of sins, which any partake of, is only in, and by virtue of that most satisfactory sacrifice, and no otherwise. For it is "by the obedience of that one that the free gift is come upon all to justification," for we affirm, that as all men partake of the fruit of Adam's fall, in that, by reason of that evil seed, which through him is communicated unto them, they are prone and inclined unto evil, though thousands of thousands be ignorant of Adam's fall, neither ever knew of the eating of the forbidden fruit; so also many may come to feel the influence of this holy and divine Seed, and Light, and be turned from evil to good by it, though they knew nothing of Christ's coming in the flesh, through whose obedience and sufferings it is purchased unto them. …The history then is profitable and comfortable, with the mystery, and never without it; but the mystery is, and may be profitable without the explicit and outward knowledge of the history. (Emphasis mine)
Application: a member of an indigenous South American tribe, who has never heard (or never will hear) the outward narrative of the Gospel could possibly (though not certainly) come to a saving knowledge of the Truth. A Muslim who has heard the outward Gospel narrative, yet rejects it, and still clings to Islam, has not come to a saving knowledge of the Truth.

The first Christian Apologist Justin Martyr also believed this, which is why he called
Socrates a Christian.

Whether one agrees with this Quaker belief or not, it should be noted that it is based on the early Friends interpretation of Scripture -which is far different from your allegation that Quakers came to hold their beliefs by ignoring the Bible or reacting against it.

Silva:
Also notice above that Latourette, a very able historian, informs us Fox had ample
opportunity to hear “Puritan preaching” and further that Fox knew Scripture very well as
he ?had acquired an intimate familiarity with the text of the English Bible.? Yet
because he wanted to worship God in his own way Fox rejected the way the Lord instructs
us to worship Him in Holy Scripture and was ?eager? long enough while waiting ?in
silence? until ?the light broke.?

Ramsey:
This is misrepresentative psychoanalyzing. George Fox did not demand to worship on his own terms. He wanted to worship God in the correct way, and having a familiarity with the Bible as well as Puritan teaching and practice, he decided that the Puritans were wrong not only in many of their beliefs, but also in many of their behaviors.

Silva:
Here is another root for the rejection and outright hatred of Biblical Reformed theology
by so many following the new evangelicalism. They often derogatorily refer to those of us
who hold these truths as ?fundies? or ?TRs,? a mocking abbreviation meaning totally
reformed.

Ramsey:
Should they follow your example and use more loving terms like, “cult” (other blog posts) "deceiving spirits," "ecumincal church of deceit," "corrupt," and "heretical?" If your inclination is to defend such labels as speaking the truth and calling a spade a spade, please remember that those who throw out the terms "fundie" or "TR" probably think they're doing the same. No doubt, people like being called ecuminical decievers much less than you like being called "TR." (Matt 7:1-5)

Silva:
Be that as it may, a honest and close examination of the evidence...

Ramsey:
And this article is hardly that.

Silva:
...will allow one to see that Fox waited long enough until he finally received his mystical delusion that it is possible for all men to "open their lives" to God.

Ramsey:
George Fox's belief was that the door to salvation was open to all. This is corroborated by John 3:16; 12:32, Acts 2:17; 17:30-31; 1 Tim 2:4. He did not teach that all men would accept this invitation. There is a big difference between "can" and "will." His long wait does not negate the validity of his belief.

Silva:
As I said, the “experience” oriented theology of George Fox would end up shoving the absolute Truth of the Bible into a secondary place in favor of this unbiblical view that it is possible that all men are capable of opening themselves up to, or seeking God on their own.

Ramsey:
Fox's beliefs do not shove the absolute Truth of Scripture anywhere. The early Friends merely placed Scripture in secondary place to its author, The Holy Spirit. The Friends' rejection of Calvin's 5 spiritual laws was not a rejection of absolute Truth. It was a rejection of a simplistic meta-narrative that had serious shortcomings and very negative implications.


Silva:
And clearly this would also appear to be a reaction on his part to the strong Biblical “Puritan preaching” which had assisted Fox in acquiring “an intimate familiarity with the text of the Bible.”

Ramsey:
Clearly? You might consider the possibility that George Fox's reactions against Puritanism and the prominent sects of his day were not based on a deep personal flaw in Fox, but on a valid disillusionment with their shortcomings –namely what they were saying juxtaposed against how they were saying it, and a disconnection between what they were teaching and how they were living.

Fox and Barclay’s familiarity with the Bible and Puritan teaching means that they made a very informed decision when they rejected Calvinism/Reformed Theology. In fact, their decisions were obviously more informed than your rejection of Quakerism.

Also, again, Fox and the early Quakers absolutely did not believe that men were capable of seeking God completely on their own. Man's desire to seek God is put in place by God. It is a God-given desire, not man's natural inclination. Man can suppress that desire or follow it (Romans 1:18).

“Secondly, by this Seed, Grace, and Word of God, and Light, wherewith we say every man is enlightened, and hath a measure of it, which strives with them in order to save them, and which may, by the stubbornness and wickedness of man's will, be quenched, bruised, wounded, pressed down, slain and crucified” –Robert Barclay

Silva:
Man Does Not Seek God On His Own
For you see George Fox had absolutely no excuse for missing this critical Truth from God's Word:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are
vile; there is no one who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they
have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.(Psalm 14:1-3)

Ramsey:
The Friends didn't miss it. They simply disagreed with your interpretation, which, despite what their violent Puritan persecutors thought, was their right to do.


Silva:
And it's not like this is some obscure passage the Puritans happened to latch onto and is somehow open to various interpretations because it appears again in Psalm 51 below almost verbatim:

The fool says in his heart, ?There is no God.? They are corrupt, and their ways are
vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see
if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have
together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one (vv.1-3).

Ramsey
Psalms are Wisdom literature. Though inspired, they are not sufficient text for composing theological meta-narratives about how God, man, life, and creation ALWAYS work. Even when Paul quotes this text in Romans 3, he is making the case that all men are imperfect. He is not saying that they are incapable of doing anything good. For him to say that unredeemed man can do nothing good would not only contradicts daily reality, it would contradicts Romans 2:14-16.

Silva:
And we aren’t able to escape this absolute Truth concerning the actual nature of mankind in the New Testament either. O the sappy sentimentality of new evangelicalism just loves to focus on the goodness of God and to tell us that He sent Jesus to meet our every need and to solve all of our problems.

Ramsey:
The Gospel itself focuses on the goodness of God. It is called the “good news” after all. The Bible tells us that Jesus will supply our every need (Phl 4:19). If you are referring to health and wealth psycho-babble prosperity Gospel, it would be fair to note that Quakers, many in the emerging church, and even many modern evangelicals, are very critical of that as well. The emerging church and the Quakers share a disdain for consumerism and materialism.

Silva:
However, as I will continue to say, Christ Jesus of Nazareth is the Creator "the dreadful and awful" holy and majestic LORD God Almighty standing upon His planet. Then concerning the fallen nature of humankind the Master unequivocally tells his Own disciples:

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how
much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"(Matthew 7:11)

Ramsey:
This verse actually goes against many of the points you have made. It points out that though man is evil, he is capable of doing good. How does evil man know what is good and how to give what is good to his children? Could it be that he has been given a seed of grace that enlightens every man?

Silva:
Jesus even clarified what He meant by “though you are evil” as He goes on to say “For
from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly? (Mark
7:21-23).

Ramsey:
Again, if this is Jesus’ definition of evil, it is important to note that He acknowledges that even evil men know how to give what is good. How? Quaker doctrine has an answer.

I’m also wondering how you can say Mark 7:21-23 applies to every man, but John 1:9 doesn’t.

Silva:
Why you’d almost have to think our Creator is trying to get a point across to
arrogant...

Ramsey:
Speaking of arrogant, what's with the sarcasm?

Silva:
...and centered on the self mankind when later the inspired Apostle Paul is led by
God the Holy Spirit to pick up those very same passages in the Psalms mentioned earlier:

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who
understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become
worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one? (Romans 3:10-12)”

Ramsey:
I already addressed Paul's use of this verse above.

Silva:
No, you won’t hear all of this preached in The Ecumenical Church of Deceit, but the bottom line simply couldn’t be any clearer than Ecclesiastes 7:20 ? There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. Ah, that is except Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1 John 2:1). So tragically, because George Fox denied this clear teaching from God’s Word, two major and spiritually fatal flaws came emerging in his theology.

Ramsey:
First of all, again, Ecclesiastes (like Psalms and Proverbs) is Wisdom literature. Second, George Fox and the early Quakers absolutely believed and taught that all men except, Jesus Christ, were sinners. To say otherwise is extreme misrepresentation. Again, the belief that God had given each man a seed of grace or "Inner Light" is not contrary to a belief that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Silva:
Out went the Pastoral Epistles for God’s prescribed method of spiritual leadership within
His local churches; and instead of objectively judging all experience by Holy Scripture, “the Quaker way” would become subjective mystical experience in “the Inner Light” as the means by which the Bible would then be interpreted.

Ramsey:
No. The Holy Spirit, who leads Christians into all truth, would and should be the means by which Scripture is interpreted. And Robert Barclay said that Quakers would be glad to have any of their doctrines tested by the Scriptures.

“Moreover, because they are commonly acknowledged by all to have been written by the dictates of the Holy Spirit, and that the errors which may be supposed by the injury of times to have slipped in are not such but that there is a sufficient clear testimony left to all the essentials of the Christian faith; we do look upon them as the only fit outward judge of controversies among Christians; and that whatsoever doctrine is contrary unto their testimony may therefore justly be rejected as false. And for our parts, we are very willing that all our doctrines and practices be tried by them; which we never refused, nor ever shall, in all controversies with our adversaries, as the judge and test. We shall also be very willing to admit it as a positive certain maxim, That whatsoever any do, pretending to the Spirit, which is contrary to the Scriptures, be accounted and reckoned a delusion of the devil.” (Emphasis mine)

Silva:
And it is this very same mortal theological wound of understanding the text of Holy Scripture by the spiritual experiences a given person may have which is also central to the faulty approach to the Bible of the Emergent Church itself where Guru Richard Foster is unquestionably "a key mentor."

Ramsey:
I do agree that the Emerging Movement and the Friends Movement have some common characteristics -one of them being disillusionment with the established sects of the day. I think misinformed, misinforming and, quite frankly, gong clanging articles like yours fuel that disillusionment.

2 comments:

Marcy Ramsey said...

Thank you for writing the response to the post by Ken Silva. I am sure he will appreciate you giving him the facts regarding George Fox and Robert Barclay’s apology since you have studied both and are very familiar with them. Hopefully he will come to understand, and I’m sure he already knows, that no one person, or denomination, has the corner on all truth. Some are more in line with the teaching of Scriptures than others, but no human is omniscient in all matters. Surely he will agree that we all have some kind of bias in the way we interpret Scripture, more so than others and that we all benefit when we really listen to what others try to say for what they are truly saying rather than what we want need to think they are saying in order to prove a point.
All that to say I am so glad you, as a member of the Friendswood Friends Church and a person who has studied some of the essential writings of Quaker doctrine, has given him insight into your knowledge and experience. I would hope this would cause him to reconsider that he may not know all things Quaker as he is not a Quaker and since he is not a Quaker is not qualified to speak as one. I am sure we can count on him to respond in brotherly love as I am sure he strives to live up to the following:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34,35

Also, I cannot understand, (perhaps you can shed some light on the subject), as to why whenever these “defenders of the faith” questions the faith and doctrine of another, they assume the one they are attacking believes and adheres to every single solitary word a leader associated with their tradition has ever said. Do you hang on every word of George Fox, Robert Barclay or Richard Foster? Does Mr. Silva hang on every word of Calvin, Luther or even RC Sproul? Surely he even disagrees with those great men on one point or another. Why in all of these sorts of discussions do people respond as if those in their line of fire are in complete and total alignment with every single word a man has ever uttered or written? Can we not all try to be more realistic in these sorts of things? Surely we all agree that the only person who requires such allegiance is Christ himself, not Fox or Luther?

I am so thankful for the words of Christ in the Gospel of John that remind us how we as Christians are to reach the world with the message of His love and redemption. Jesus’ plan didn‘t include blogs, programs, discipleship classes, printed gospel tracts or even the Jesus film. I’ve already repeated Jesus statement if we have love one another all men will know that we are His Disciples. And now it is time to consider what he says in John 17 regarding unity and how Christian unity demonstrates to the world that God has indeed sent Jesus. How is it that we will substitute anything and everything for true evangelism and disregard the thing that Christ says glorifies Himself to the world, simply stated loving one another and living in unity?

I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in me and I in You , that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17: 14-21

Loving one another and living in unity are the most cost effective and truly effective way to get the Gospel out. Of course personal ambitions and building tiny kingdoms for oneself are quickly eliminated in Christ plan, but who really needs those anyway? (I guess every leader of a new denomination or church leader that need to start his own church because he couldn’t get along with his brothers?)
Love and Unity speak to the fact that God sent His only begotten son into the world and that He loves them and desires to be reconciled with mankind. And please do not think I mean that we throw out our theology or doctrine. That would be incorrect. We need correct theology and correct doctrine, but we do not have to make whether I can wear lipstick, must home school my kids and whether you can vote for democratic presidential candidate part of that doctrine. Let’s go with the basics…Jesus, God in the flesh, sent to earth to redeem fallen and hopeless man to Himself through his virgin birth, death on a cross, his bodily resurrection and his ascension into heaven. So with these basic core beliefs we should be honoring the commands of Christ to love one another and strive to live in unity so we can show the world that God sent Jesus and that He loves each of them. Or is this where Mr. Silva parts company with us, in his belief that Christ didn‘t die
for everyone? That He died for only the elect and that God doesn’t love all humanity and doesn’t desire to be reconciled to whosoever will?

I just need somebody to explain to me why Christ would say all He says in John 13-17 if He doesn’t think it is possible for us to live in love and unity. I for one do not want to substitute any denomination or human teaching for these commandments. I appreciate that Ken Silva wants to defend the gospel and retain the standard of sounds word. I just hope he will do so in humility and sincere love for his bothers and sisters in Christ. Christ taught us that the world would indeed hate us because we are not of the world, but do our brothers and sisters in Christ need to talk to us in condescending tones, put downs and name calling? Is it too much to ask that our brothers in sisters in Christ would not speak to us as if we are the enemy? Are we not faithful to Christ if we hold Christian love above denominational doctrine? Might he try and give Richard Foster a break or make an attempt to meet him face to face? I find it hard to believe that he might
suppose that he and his friends are the only ones that have it all correct and therefore they can treat us with disdain and disrespect. If that is his justification perhaps we could plead with him to adhere to Christ command to love his enemies if he must continue to regard all those who believe that God not only draws men to himself but has also given them a free will as his enemy. Surely I would be wrong if I cam to any of these conclusions.
I cannot speak to what others will do, I can only speak to what I hope I will do…I want to believe that Ken Silva would rather follow Christ in all truth by loving and seeking unity with his brethren than he would want to cause trouble and malign others who love Christ just as much as he does for the sake of proving some denominational point or encouraging more people to read his blog.

Lori said...

Hi Richard,
I am convinced that Richard Foster is leading people into practicing occult/New-Age meditation. However, I disagree with Ken Silva's attitude and tone displayed in many of his posts, as well as his carelessness with the facts, which you have demonstrated in your well-documented post. I don't agree with the Quaker teaching that it's the norm for the Holy Spirit to give us revelation apart from the scriptures (even if the message is consistent with scripture); however, I appreciate very much your respectful tone and attitude in expressing your disagreements - and I don't believe holding to this teaching means you're not saved. I am not Reformed. I see a good deal too much arrogance coming through in many (not all, thankfully) of the Reformed camp's efforts to combat the New Spirituality. I am very thankful for the historical and doctrinal information you shared. I myself am active in combating the New Spirituality. In doing so, I want to be as careful as I can to get the facts right.
Blessings,
Lori