Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Contending over the Shell and not the Kernel

In William Roger's preface to his historical documentation (Written in 1680) of the disunity that arose within the gathering of the Children of Light (Quaker) over the establishment of outward frameworks to assist governance of the gathering as a whole he writes:

[The institution builders say] ... "let us have an eye to the Brethren: Further insinuating, as if God, had ordained Ministers amongst them, that are to see and hear for the Body, and common Members of the Churches, ... I cannot but be full of Jealousy*, that these Things have a Tendency, to insinuate Submission without Conviction, to nurture up Ignorance instead of Wisdom, and to introduce Bondage instead of Freedom in Christ, as much as ever was under the Cover of a Black-coat, in the Dark Night of Apostacy ... "

There is so much here that illustrates the nature of the disunity between those who were Jealous to build outward institutional frameworks and those in the gathering who were Jealous to for the establishment of the inshining Light itself in itself as the sole guide in the conscience** and conscious*** (Please read the definitions and discussion in the footnotes below). There were those Jealous to keep attentiveness upon the inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience. That is, those whose inward knowledge (conscience) and whose shared or mutual inshining knowledge (conscious) in the unmediated and direct experience of the inshining Light itself did not value outward assistance of established forms and guides. The inshining Light itself in-formed their conscience and established them in a shared mutual inshining knowledge (conscious). This informed conscience and inshining conscious is what established them mutually.

When the institution builders manifested in the gathering of the Children of Light, they began telling the gathering to "have an eye to the Brethren, meaning, adhere to the outward doctrine and institutions the Brethren establish and attend your conscience (inward knowledge) and your conscious (shared inshining experience) to those outward leaders and ministers for they have been ordained by God (inherent self-existence) and they see for the Gathering and hear for the Gathering. Such adherence to outward forms and teachers was not of the conscious (mutual experience) and the conscience (inward knowledge) by which the Children of Light were initially established. To attend to the Brethren was to deflect attention away from a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the inshining Light itself resulting in submission to the outward forms of the institution builders without conviction in and by the presence of the inshining Light itself in mutual knowledge of the direct and unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself. These outward forms of the institution builders also nurture Ignorance of the inshining Light instead of wisdom in the inshining Light itself and introduced bondage to the forms of the institution builders rather than freedom in the inshining light that fills the gathering with unity in mutually shared unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself, upon which there is no occasion for disunity. The outward forms of the institution builders are nurseries for disunity and conflict because they  mediate that should be unmediated. The outwardly established forms and instrumentalities or mediations of the institution builders are a black coat blanketing and overshadowing the inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience in a dark night.

For example, outward notions like equality and inclusiveness are mediations that supplant the direct experience of the inshining Light itself as guide and teacher in the conscious and conscience. These notions replace the inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience. They become established as an outward source of mutual knowing (conscious) and inward knowledge (conscience) taking the place of the inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience.

In the third part of his historical documentation of the disunity among those in the early years of the gathering of the Children of Light Roger's writes:

"As to the word Established, we further add, That the word ... is disowned by us; for though the Children of God may be Instruments in the hand of the Lord, to establish one another in the Faith of God's Elect, yet 'tis not in their power, or any one of them, positively and without exception, to establish what ought to be believed and practiced, whether it respect Doctrine, or Discipline: and if any one or more have attempted so to do , it may Justly be said of such, that he or they have endeavoured to invade Christ's Prerogative." (William Rogers - Christian Quaker - Part Three - page 32.)
Essentially, there were many in the early gathering of the Children of Light that were Jealous against the manifestation of institution builders. Because, by establishing outward forms, they were endeavoring to invade the prerogative of the inshining Light itself as the ruler and governor of mutually shared inward experience (conscious) and inward knowledge (conscience).

Along these lines Isaac Penington wrote:

"I have smarted deeply for these things, and have been taught by the briars and thorns of the wilderness, whereby my ears came to be opened, to hear the sound of the everlasting gospel, to which they were before through ignorance stopped. For I also did believe and expect great things in a church-state and way of worship; and in simplicity of heart did I enter into it, and walk in it, and was not without knowledge, warmth, and experiences there. But all this the Lord broke down by a strong hand, in one moment; and hath taught me since to throw away all my gains here, and elsewhere, and to count them but dross and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord. And having tasted, having seen, having felt, having handled, I cannot but commend the life; and dissuade all men from all knowledge, all worship, all religion, all ways, and practices (though ever so taking, pleasant, and promising), out of the life. And this is to know Christ; namely, to know the life: and this is to obey Christ, to obey the life: and this is the kingdom of Christ which is to come, to have the life reign in power and great glory. But the knowing or believing of a history concerning Christ, this is not the knowledge or the faith: antichrist all along the apostasy, in all his various forms and dresses, hath known and believed thus: and this kind of knowledge must pass away, further than it can find a place and service in the life. Be not angry at my testimony; it flows from pure love, and comes forth in great good-will to your souls."

It must be acknowledged here that Penington later tempered these words in Light of the disunity that the establishment of outward forms manifested among the Children of Light. Penington is said to have suffered personally over this disunity.

Roger's write further in his Preface:

A "great Part of the Contention of one Party with another, seems to be but about the Shell, and the Kernel: My Meaning thereby is, about Outward Forms and Methods, ... as if Hells Gates must be opened to receive all such, as walk not in the Outward Path, which ... hath been prescribed by" ... [the institution builders.]

* Jealousy. The Oxford English Dictionary establishes the "obsolete" or antiquated definition as:
1. Zeal or vehemence of feeling against some person or thing; anger, wrath, indignation.
2. Zeal or vehemence of feeling in favor of a person of thing; devotion, eagerness, anxiety to serve.

** Conscience
In the 17th century, the word conscience carried a much more nuanced meaning than it does today. Conscience also carried the interwoven sense of conscious or consciousness which was a shared inward knowledge with others. The Oxford English Dictionary establishes the "obsolete" definition as:

1. Inward knowledge, consciousness; inmost thought, mind.
a.. Inward knowledge or consciousness; internal conviction.
b.. Internal or mental recognition or acknowledgement of something.
2. Inmost thought; mind 'heart'

*** Conscious
The Oxford English Dictionary establishes the "obsolete definition as:
1. Knowing or sharing the knowledge of anything, together with another; privy to anything with another.

The obsolete definition of "Consciousness" in the Oxford English Dictionary is "joint or mutual knowledge."

You can read more on this here:
Conscious and Conscience: Toward a deeper understand of early Quakers

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