Friday, 13 January 2017

Some Themes in Contemporary Christian Eco-Theology and Bible Scholarship

A. Introduction

In response to the deepening ecological crisis, theologians and Bible scholars have been developing new interpretations of Christianity and of the scriptures in order to counter the accusation that the Judeo-Christian tradition inevitably devalues the physical world and justifies human exploitation of the creation. This paper sets out some of the themes emerging from this work. We will look at a diverse range of voices that reflect aspects of current thinking.

B. LISTENING TO A NUMBER OF CONTEMPORARY VOICES

1. Richard Bauckham – The Bible, Ecology and the Hubris of Humanity

Richard Bauckham is an English Anglican theologian and Bible scholar. His book Bible and Ecology: Recovering the Community of Creation (Darton, Longman & Todd, 2010) explores how the Bible portrays the relationship between humanity and the rest of the creation. Here are a number of key points.

·        God’s Creation is ‘Very Good’ - The scriptures make it clear that the creation belongs to God, rather than to humans, and that God regards the creation as ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31).

·        Creation Account (Genesis 2) - If the justification of human dominion and control over creation has focussed on the Genesis 1 account, then this has been at the expense of Genesis 2, which gives a very different emphasis. In Genesis 2, God forms humans from the dust of the soil and they are given the task of tending the garden.

·        The Fall (Genesis 3) - The implications of the Fall for human dominion have often been neglected. The dominion offered to humanity in Genesis 1 is inextricably linked to the human capacity to reveal the divine image. This wisdom is lost or at least obscured in the narrative of the fall. As a result of the fall, humans become a disorderly influence in the world, disrupting its harmony and natural rhythms. Fallen human action supports the forces of chaos and destruction against the order of God (Bauckham 2010, p.18 & p.60). Humanity acting as if it controls the creation is a significant aspect of the fallen state, since it reflects the delusional belief that humans are gods, rather than mere creatures.

·        The Book Job – Humbling Humanity - We need to recognise that human humility is a much-needed ecological virtue. There are a number of passages in scripture where God humbles people by revealing their absolute limitations; humans are creatures, not gods. A good example of this is the Book of Job. In chapter 38, God shows Job the vast panorama of the cosmos to make him realise his limited knowledge, power and understanding. The cosmos has order, but Job has limited understanding and is forced to accept humility before the immensity and mystery of creation. In chapters 40 and 42, God further undermines Job’s pride by reminding him that he is incapable of controlling the cosmos. Only God can subdue the forces of chaos and bring order (Bauckham 2010, pp.38-46 & pp.56-60).

·        Human Morality and the Land - The Hebrew Scriptures (e.g. Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms and Isaiah) indicate that the health and productivity of the land is closely linked to human morality and obedience to God. This is also reflected in the Torah sabbatical institutions, which seek to impose strict limits on the human use of the land (Bauckham 2010, pp.26-27).

·        The Community of Creation - The Bible describes the creation as good, beautiful and fruitful, existing in a state of community, based on interrelationships and interdependence. In this sense, humans cannot simply regard the earth as a commodity to be bought and sold. For example, Genesis 9:12 makes clear that God’s covenant is made with all living things, not just with humans. Humans are one creature among others and must respect the God-given order of creation (Bauckham 2010, p. 34).

2. Sallie McFague – Creation is the Body of God


Sallie McFague is an American Feminist theologian whose writings have made a significant contribution to the development of Christian eco-theology. We will look at some key themes in her book The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (SCM Press, 1993).

·        Embodiment - The Body of God - MacFague argues that the creation is the body of God. The Divine Spirit is embodied in the physical world (McFague 1993, p.vii). The whole universe is ‘the Word made flesh’ because God’s Spirit is the breath of life in all life-forms (McFague 1993, pp.131 & 137). If the world is God’s body, then nothing happens to the world that does not also happen to God (McFague 1993, p.197). Humanity needs to recognise and reconnect with its embodied nature. Embodied human experience connects us in a web of universal experience, enabling us to feel empathy for other creatures (McFague 1993, p.86). The view from the body is always a view from somewhere specific, situated and embodied. We should therefore accept our limitations and resist the temptation to universalise our perceptions and assumptions in an arrogant way (McFague 1993, p.95).

·        A Common Origin - McFague asserts that eco-theology needs to be consistent with recent developments in post-modern science. In particular, she points to the theory that the vast diversity of the universe has a common origin (McFague 1993, p.39) and quotes the theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne who suggest “we are all made of the ashes of dead stars” (McFague 1993, p.43). Recognising that all things are intimately interconnected and have a common origin must have implications for our world view. For example, who is our neighbour from an ecological and cosmic perspective (McFague 1993, p.103)? Should we regard this earth as our permanent home or as merely a short-stay hotel (McFague 1993, p.60)?

·        Ecological Sin - McFague suggests that ‘sin’ is essentially a relational notion. It is acting contrary to right relations (McFague 1993, p.114). In particular, ecological sin might be understood in terms of an unwillingness of humans to stay in our proper place in the scheme of things. This is an example of living a lie (McFague 1993, p.110). There are power relations at play here, too, because ecological sin involves the refusal of the powerful to share space and land with those who have little or no power (McFague 1993, p.117). Humans need to realise that we have the right to our place, but not all places. We need space but cannot have the whole space (McFague 1993, p.128).

·        Incarnation – McFague states that Christianity is the incarnational religion par excellence (McFague 1993, p.207). The Incarnation implies the fusing of God and creation, heaven and earth (McFague 1993, p.xi). The Incarnation event was specific, embodied and situated. In Jesus, the Incarnation reveals God’s inclusive love for all creation, especially for the oppressed and needy. It signals a move towards the liberation, healing, well-being and fulfilment of all bodies (McFague 1993, p.160).

·        Salvation as the Liberation of Creation– McFague asks whether individual salvation can have any meaning from an ecological perspective (McFague 1993, p.109). Is salvation liberation from the physical or liberation of the physical (McFague 1993, p.31)? As an eco-theologian, she asserts that salvation must be a process of liberating the physical world from all that frustrates its flourishing and well-being. It is a liberation of oppressed bodies, which includes animals and the rest of the physical creation (McFague 1993, 68). The natural world needs to be liberated and healed. Humans have enslaved it and made it sick (McFague 1993, p.166). 

3. Karen Baker-Fletcher – Womanist Perspectives on Eco-Racism and Liberation
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Karen Baker-Fletcher is an American Womanist theologian. Womanist Theology is a form of Black Liberation Theology exploring the interconnections of class, race and gender from the perspective of Black women.  Here we will look at some key themes from Baker-Fletcher’s book Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit: Womanist Wordings on God and Creation (Fortress Press, 1998).

·        Liberation – Baker-Fletcher asserts that the destructive human relationship with the rest of creation is one part of a complex interlocking set of power-relations that make life a hell on earth for so many people and other creatures. Eco-theology is therefore about the liberation of people, other animals and the whole creation from multiple forms of oppression and injustice (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.6).

·        Environmental Racism – Such multiple forms of injustice are inevitably interconnected. Baker-Fletcher gives the example of environmental racism, where toxic waste is commonly dumped close to communities of colour. Such action reflects the combined impact of class, race and ecological oppression (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.4).

·        People of Dust and Spirit – Humans need to recognise that we all belong to one Spirit. We are not our own (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.131). Humans are dust (adam) creatures into which God breathes (nephesh) life (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.8). If we forget that we are people of the land who belong to God, we lose connection to our own spirits and to God as the life-force of creation (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.58).

·        The Dance of Creation – The spiritual and the physical, heaven and earth are not separate realities. They are intimately interconnected. Baker-Fletcher asserts that creation is born out of a loving, creative dance between Spirit and all the elements of the cosmos (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.27).

·        The Incarnation – The Incarnation was a world-changing example of the interconnection of Spirit and matter. In Jesus, the dust and the Spirit were fully united (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.19). Baker-Fletcher asks us to consider what it means to claim that Jesus Christ was the embodiment of the Spirit of God (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.7). What does Jesus tell us about right relationship within creation?

·        Loving God and Neighbour – Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are that we should love God and our neighbour as ourselves. We are called to love God as the one who creates and sustains nature. We are called to love nature because we too are nature. Nature is our neighbour, our brother and our sister (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.69).

·        The Life-Giving Spirit – Baker-Fletcher emphasises the creative, sustaining and liberating power of the Holy Spirit. She describes the Spirit as ‘the all-encompassing, inclusive force in which God as creator and all creation are inextricably enwombed’ (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.110). What matters is to be connected to this creative, life-giving source of all that is. Hence we need to give serious attention to what disconnects us from this Spirit (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.124).

·        Heaven on Earth – Baker-Fletcher describes heaven as the realisation of the reign of God as empowered Spirit in all aspects of life, both concrete and spiritual (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.126). Humans have a part to play in this process. By the Spirit, we are called to help realise the apocalyptic vision of a new heaven and a new earth (Baker-Fletcher 1998, p.128).

4. Mark I Wallace – Embodied Spirit, Suffering Spirit


Mark I Wallace is an American Theologian who teaches at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Here is an overview of key points he makes in his book Finding God in the Singing River: Christianity, Spirit, Nature (Fortress Press, 2005).

·        Eco-cidal Bondage – Wallace sees human sin in terms of a destructive bondage of the will, which he terms ‘eco-cidal addiction’ (Wallace 2005, p.30). How can we be liberated from enslavement to a way of being and a way of living that is so destructive to other humans, other animals and the rest of the natural world?

·        The Disembodied Sky God – For Wallace, a key problem is the way in which Western culture has been shaped by a dualistic form of Christianity that neglects the significance of the material world in favour of a focus on heaven as a spiritual reality quite separate from the creation. In particular, our view of the divine has been dominated by the transcendent, disembodied, and immaterial sky God (Wallace 2005, p.9).

·        The Enfleshed Spirit – In responding to the dominance of the transcendent, disembodied, and immaterial sky God, Wallace notes that Christianity was founded on Incarnation, on the Word of God becoming flesh (Wallace 2005, p.23). He argues that one of the central features of biblical teaching is that the Holy Spirit is God’s abiding and animating presence in the world (Wallace 2005, p.x). In scripture, the Spirit is portrayed as a wholly enfleshed life-form who engenders healing and renewal (Wallace 2005, p.9). In view of this, Christian eco-theology needs to retrieve the vision of the Holy Spirit as the earth God of the Bible, who infuses all things with her sensual presence (Wallace 2005, p.82).

·        Alive with Spirit – Wallace suggests that, if the Spirit is a creator which breathes life into all things and unifies the earth community (Wallace 2005, p.44), nothing is dead and matter is not inert because all things are charged with the sacred power of the Spirit (Wallace 2005, p.16). All life is sacred because the earth is a natural system alive with God’s presence that supports the well-being of all created things (Wallace 2005, p.153). The Spirit labours to lead all creation into a healthy and robust relationship with herself (Wallace 2005, p.20). God as Spirit is the gift of life to all creation, and where life is birthed and cared for, there God is present, and there God is to be celebrated (Wallace 2005, p.153).  

·        The Wounded Spirit – Wallace argues that while Jesus, as the Word made flesh, suffered the sins of the world on the cross, the Spirit suffers the despoilment of the earth (Wallace 2005, p.124). In this sense, the Spirit who enfleshes divine presence in nature is both the source of healing and reconciliation and the ‘wounded Spirit’ suffering at the hands of human sin (Wallace 2005, p.133).

·        A Community in Spirit – If the whole of creation constitutes a single community, enlivened, upheld and bound together by the Holy Spirit, then, Wallace argues, this has implications for human ethics and action. There is a need to extend the circle of moral concern beyond ‘me and mine’ to include the well-being of Mother Earth’s entire family (Wallace 2005, p.94). To understand oneself as a member of the Spirit-earth community should entail a commitment to social justice for all creation (Wallace 2005, p.58).

·        Belonging to the Life-Web Family – Wallace suggests that Christian eco-theology can offer a distinctive vision of an interdependent world charged with the healing power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within all things (Wallace 2005, p.120). We are part of an interdependent system of ecological relationships (Wallace 2005, p.92) and need to regain our primordial sense of belonging to this unified life-web. Without the healthy functioning of this web of life, our lives are not viable (Wallace 2005, p.28). Wallace has stated that his vision might be regarded as a form of Christian Animism (Wallace 2010, pp.1-10).

5. Noel Moules – Christian Animism


Noel Moules is a British-based thinker, teacher and activist rooted in the Anabaptist tradition. He believes that, properly understood, the Christian faith is an earth-based, creation-focused, Jesus-centered spirituality. He argues that the understanding that God’s living presence is found within all matter, making it both sacred and alive, is to be found in the Hebrew biblical texts, the life and teaching of Jesus, and among the earliest Christian communities. Moule’s vision of Christian Animism is founded upon six essential assertions about the nature of God’s creation:
·        Everything is alive
·        Everything is sacred
·        Everything is connected
·        Everything is person
·        Everything is nurtured
·        Everything is respected

Moules argues that today’s ecological crisis is first and foremost a spiritual crisis. Therefore, effective solutions will depend on finding fresh spiritual perspectives and resources, expressed in new ways of thinking, behaving and living. He suggests that Christian Animism offers this and that Christians need to re-discover their animist roots to re-orientate their faith towards its true direction, to be an authentic example and voice in the current ecological struggle and to offer life-giving options to those looking for a path ahead. Moules is currently writing a book on this subject and has made a website available (see references and also Moules 2012, pp.79-100).

6. Mark Bredin – The Ecology of the New Testament


Mark Bredin is a New Testament scholar, a care-giver and a Quaker from Kings Lynn in the UK. We will look at some key themes within his book The Ecology of the New Testament: Creation, Re-Creation, and the Environment (Inter Varsity press, 2010).

·        The Fall and Human Sin – Bredin points out that in the biblical narrative (Genesis 4:8-16, 6:5-7 and 11:1-9), a key implication of the human fall out of Eden is that people begin to regard themselves as over and above the rest of creation (Bredin 2010, p.10). He notes that sin can be defined, therefore, as humans acting as if they were distinct from the rest of creation and as if they were gods (Bredin 2010, p.154). The fall leads to the development of an alienated, violent and unjust human culture which causes the suffering of people and the despoiling of the natural world. The ‘ways of the world’ and the dominant worldly powers are fundamentally destructive. For example, in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 6, 8:6-9, 11:15-18), Rome is depicted as a power that brings plagues and pollution upon the non-human creation (Bredin 2010, p.121). This should prompt us to examine ourselves and our loyalties. Are we following the way of God or the values of Egypt and Pharaoh, Rome and Caesar (Bredin 2010, p.184)? Bredin suggests that we should all pray that our addiction to material wealth, comfort and success becomes less powerful.

·        God as Care-Giver – Bredin argues that the Bible reveals God to be the one who cares for creation. Because God created it, we are called to show our love for creation by serving God and caring for what God has made (Bredin 2010, p.10). Humans have failed to see the world and ourselves as God sees us. This prevents us from visualising ourselves as carers for God’s creation. However, it is possible for us to share in God’s image by becoming care-givers to one another and to the whole creation (Bredin 2010, p186.).

·        Salvation as Cosmic Justice – There are real implications associated with an overly spiritualised understanding of salvation. If the natural world is excluded from the salvific process, then how can it be the object of our ethical concern (Bredin 2010, p.7)? Bredin notes that in the Old Testament, ‘shalom justice’ clearly equates to social and ecological justice (Bredin 2010, p.21). He therefore argues that salvation is intimately connected with release and healing from social, economic and personal sin (Bredin 2010, p.92). In turn, Jesus calls his disciples to act for cosmic justice without concern for the consequences (Bredin 2010, p.82). Good news for the poor and the oppressed is also good news for the land and the rest of creation. It is good news when the wealthy and powerful repent of their personal, social and ecological sins. (Bredin 2010, p.59).

·        Greed versus Abundance – the Bible warns us time and time again about the dangers posed by the desire for wealth and power. Jesus demonstrates that the world is filled with abundance. If bread is shared, there is enough for all (Bredin 2010, p.115). However, greed leads to oppression and the suffering of others as well as to environmental devastation (Bredin 2010, p.82).

·        Wilderness as a Place of Learning – If human culture has become associated with violence, injustice, oppression and destruction, then, in the search for liberation, we may need to seek out places away from this dominant culture. The wilderness represents a place beyond human control and culture. In the Bible, it was a place of learning for both Israel and Jesus (Bredin 2010, p.30).

·        New Creation – Bredin argues that the biblical vision of the New Creation is not that of a spiritual heaven free from the limitations of the physical world. He notes that, for Paul, in the New Creation, all things are brought into an appropriate relationship to God (Bredin 2010, p.139) and that, in the vision of the Book of Revelation, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21-22) is a redeemed physical creation in which justice is known, because God dwells there (Bredin 2010, p.173).

7. Howard Snyder – Salvation Means Creation Healed


Howard Snyder is a North American Wesleyan theologian and Bible scholar. In his book Salvation Means Creation Healed: The Ecology of Sin and Grace (Cascade Books, 2011) he argues that the radical separation between spirit and matter, heaven and earth in Western Christianity is not supported by the biblical narrative. Instead, the Bible tells us that salvation means the whole creation healed.

·        The Great Divorce - A key problem within Western Christian theology has been the way in which it has promoted a divorce between heaven and earth, leading to an over-spiritualised understanding of salvation (Snyder 2011, p.xvi). This has produced a preoccupation with individual salvation and a neglect of the need for healing and transformation in this world (Snyder 2011, p.34). This obsession with getting to heaven, understood as an entirely spiritual reality, has leads Snyder to claim that, to a surprising degree, contemporary Christians are modern-day Gnostics (Snyder 2011, p.61). Gnosticism has tended to be radically dualistic, regarding the physical creation as inferior and corrupted compare to a superior and pure spiritual realm. Believers needed to obtain special knowledge (gnosis) in order to escape the physical world and enter the spiritual realm.

·        The Good Creation – Snyder points out that Biblical theology does not begin with human sin. It begins with creation and god’s goodness (Snyder 2011, p.55). God’s goodness is revealed in the goodness of the creation. He also notes that God’s first ‘everlasting’ covenant (Genesis 9) was made with all humans and every living thing (Snyder 2011, p.118). Clearly, God’s care extends beyond humanity to the whole of creation.

·        Human Sin – Snyder asserts that the essence of human sin is the desire to exalt oneself and prefer oneself over another (Snyder 2011, p.101). This leads humans to care only for themselves and their place in heaven. So, it was sin that caused the divorce between heaven and earth (Snyder 2011, p.65).

·        Modernity – Although Snyder is extremely critical of the creation-denying aspects of Western Christianity, he does note that the development of modern Capitalist industrialism and its technocratic culture has been associated with a massive increase in the human capacity to use and abuse the physical world. This has occurred during a period in which the influence of traditional religion has been on the decline. The Enlightenment and industrialism has had the effect of emptying the earth of its divine significance (Snyder 2011, p.34).

·        Incarnation – Like others, Snyder argues that, with the Incarnation, heaven and earth were joined together with an unbreakable bond (Snyder 2011, p.48). He asks why Jesus would rise physically in order to save us only in a spiritual sense (Snyder 2011, p.226). The Incarnation suggests that the Gospel is primarily about healing the disease of sin and the healing of all creation through the Incarnation of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit (Snyder 2011, p.65).

·        Shalom – Snyder suggests that the biblical vision of shalom is a deeply ecological concept, involving the harmonious interdependence of people within their social and physical context (Snyder 2011, p.150). True shalom is characterised by peaceful and fruitful harmony between God, all people and the land (Snyder 2011, p.126).

·        The Great Reconciliation – Snyder asserts that the biblical narrative describes a journey or pilgrimage that is directed toward the union of matter and spirit, heaven and earth (Snyder 2011, pp.ix-x). Therefore, our goal is not to reach heaven, but to have full fellowship with God and one another now and in the final New Creation (Snyder 2011, p.227). Ultimately, salvation means the marriage of heaven and earth in the New Creation (Snyder 2011, p.3). This can be seen throughout the New Testament. For example, the apostle Paul places personal salvation within a picture of cosmic transformation and the main message of the Book of Revelation is the harmonious uniting of all things under the Lordship of Christ, as all evil and discord is destroyed (Snyder 2011, pp.99-100).

c. rEFERENCES

(2008) The Green Bible – NRSV (Collins)

Baker-Fletcher, Karen (1998) Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit: Womanist Wordings on God and Creation (Fortress Press)

Bauckham, Richard (2010) Bible and Ecology: Recovering the Community of Creation (Darton, Longman & Todd)

Bredin, Mark (2010) The Ecology of the New Testament: Creation, Re-Creation, and the Environment (Inter Varsity press)

McFague, Sallie (1993) The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (SCM Press)

Moules, Noel (2012) Fingerprints of Fire…Footprints of Peace: A Spiritual Manifesto from a Jesus Perspective


Snyder, Howard A. and Scandrett, Joel (2011) Salvation Means Creation Healed: The Ecology of Sin and Grace (Cascade Books)

Wallace, Mark I. (2005) Finding God in the Singing River: Christianity, Spirit, Nature (Fortress Press)

Wallace, Mark I. (2010) Green Christianity: Five Ways to a Sustainable Future (Fortress Press)

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Early Anabaptist and Quaker Writings Compared


The texts below demonstrate the many similarities as well as the subtle differences between the religious vision of the early Anabaptists and the early Quakers. The Anabaptist writings all come from 16th century Europe and the Quaker writings from 17th century England. I have arranged the texts under key themes.





A. THE NEW COVENANT

This (new) covenant is a covenant of grace, the revelation and the knowledge of God, as the Word signifies, “They shall all know me, from the least to the greatest.” This knowledge, however, comes alone from the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Thus the covenant of God is confirmed by Christ, sealed and established by the Holy Spirit, as is promised, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and upon my servants and upon my handmaids in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”

Peter Riedeman

Christ Jesus is the spirit and the truth of all the figures that have passed away, the end and fulfilment of the law of figures, but the beginning of the true substance and completeness eternally (Jn. 6:63, 14:6, Rom. 10:4). In Christ Jesus, says the apostle, is genuine substance (Eph. 4:21). In him are hid all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God (Col. 2:3). Indeed, in him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and all shadows and figures are fulfilled in him.

Dirk Philips

We have no assurance or seal through external signs and pictures, but through the true sign of all signs, Christ Jesus, as he himself says: just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so also the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life (Jn. 3:14-16).

Menno Simons

Therefore, O almighty Father, we together praise and thank you that you have so graciously called and separated us from this evil world… and drawn us to your marvellous light which is Christ Jesus, which illuminates our hearts, seals and marks us with the Holy Spirit, and that through him we know you as our true God and Father. Through him you have also made a new covenant with us (Heb. 8). This covenant is your law written on our hearts, where you no longer remember our sins, and we henceforth are and remain your children forever.

Hans Schlaffer






B. REGENERATION

Yea, it is impossible to retain the creaturely, as the false Christians do, and at the same time to receive salvation.

Hans Denck

(The believer) is clothed with the power from above, baptised with the Holy Spirit and so united and mingled with God that he becomes a partaker of the divine nature and is made comfortable to the image of His Son.”

Menno Simons

The Spirit of Christ which is promised and given to all believers makes them free from the law or power of sin, and plants them into Christ, makes them of his mind, yea of his character and nature, so that they become one plant and one organism together with him: he the root or stem, we the branches, as he himself says, “I am the true vine, ye, however, are the branches.

Peter Riedeman

The Word must be received with a pure heart, through the Holy Spirit, and become flesh in us. This creates great fright and trembling in us, even as in Mary, when she heard God’s will through the angel (Lk. 1). The Word must also be born in us. This cannot happen except through pain, poverty and misery within and without. And where the Word is born and becomes flesh in us and we praise God for this goodness, there our heart is at peace, there we also become Christ’s mother, brothers and sister (Mat. 12).

Hans Hut

As soon as they become aware of this light they are terrified in their hearts because of the Word of God; they bend all their energies to resist sin. They pray, hear much preaching, read a lot, and ask many questions, all with a sincere heart. Although they are the enemies of sin nevertheless they cannot resist sin in their own power and are often overcome by the flesh. However, they are immediately sorry for it, suffer on account of it, and humble themselves faithfully. To them God gives grace upon grace.

Leonhard Schiemer



C. THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE SPIRIT

The reason for the errors is that Luther comes to Christ, to God, to the light. He will not have any of them in him, but only beside him, under him, near him.

Leonard Schiemer

Therefore, whoever says that Christ is anywhere else than living on earth, as in heaven, in the power and clarity of the Spirit in the heart of each faithful believer, he is a deceiver. Whoever does not find Christ dwelling in his own heart, eternally will not find him elsewhere.

However, where such hearts as temples and dwellings of God are built into a spiritual dwelling for the Lord, these places are named and identified only as long as the faithful live there. Thus, that place is holy for the sake of the saints, even as God sanctified the figurative temple. When it was destroyed, its place was profaned. The same is true of a place without saints. Where they do not dwell, it is a curse and malediction; it is desecrated, destroyed, and profaned before God. At this time we see it clearly in the whole world…

All the others continually learn from, and are taught by, men. But these others never come to the knowledge of the truth, which is eternal life (Jn. 17:3). They never know God the Father as the true God, and Jesus Christ as the One whom the Father has sent. Therefore the Lord says that not everyone who cries “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. Since no one know the Father but the Son and him to whom the Son reveals the Father (Mt. 11:27), on one but the Son could do the will and pleasure of the heavenly Father. Thus, no one but only the Father knows the Son.

Pilgram Marpeck








D. BAPTISM

Baptism has three parts, that is Spirit, water and blood. These three are one and witness upon the earth. Firstly, the Spirit is the assurance in and surrender to the divine Word that man will live according to what the Word proclaims. This is the covenant of God which God makes with them through his Spirit in their hearts. Secondly, beyond that God has given them the water as a sign of the covenant. In this one indicates and confesses that he wishes to live in true obedience towards God and Christians and to live a blameless life. And whoever transgresses and does not live right and acts against God and love, he is to be chastised by others with words. This is the ban about which God speaks. It is to be a witness before the church. The third is blood which is the true baptism which Christ shows his disciples when he says that they are to be baptised with the baptism which witnesses to the whole world when a disciple’s blood is spilt. This is what he holds concerning baptism since he has understood it.

Hans Hut

Observe concerning baptism: Baptism shall be given to all those who have learned repentance and amendment of life, and who believe truly that their sins are taken away by Christ, and to all those who walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and wish to be buried with Him in death, so that they may be resurrected with Him and to all those who with this significance request it (baptism) of us and demand it for themselves. This excludes all infant baptism, the highest and chief abomination of the Pope. In this you have the foundation and testimony of the apostles. Matt. 28, Mark 16, Acts 2, 8, 16, 19. This we wish to hold simply, yet firmly and with assurance.

The Schleitheim Confession

E. CRUCIFIXION AND REBIRTH

…The born again children of God and new creatures in Christ Jesus are those who are born again out of God the heavenly Father through Christ Jesus and are renewed and sanctified through the Holy Spirit, who have become participants of the divine nature, of the being of Jesus Christ, and of the character of the Holy Spirit. They are those who have died to sin and still daily die more and more, and experience righteousness; those who never boast in themselves but only in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to them and they to the world (Gal. 6:14); those who in true faith walk according to the rule of Christ and follow in his footsteps, who know no one according to the flesh, those who do not have an appetite for what is human but for what is divine.

Dirk Philips

The new birth is…a change in the inner nature, which transforms people by the power of God through faith from evil to good, from being fleshly to being spiritual, from unrighteousness to righteousness, out of Adam into Christ…The regenerated live out of the power of their new being, they crucify their flesh, with its evil desires, they leave the old Adam with his works, they avoid every appearance of evil, they are taught, controlled, and driven by the Holy Spirit.

Menno Simons





F. WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

Church or ecclesia is a gathered congregation of people which is built on Christ and not on the pope, emperor, etc. Nor are the stone houses and towers churches. Paul says you are no longer pilgrims and strangers but fellow citizens and members of the household of God built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets. For all the prophets had the Spirit of Christ. That is why Christ is the cornerstone, whom the builders of the house of God cast out as a prophet. But this true sign of the holy Christian church is spoken against everywhere.

Leonhard Schiemer

The church of Christ is the basis and ground of truth, a lantern of righteousness, in which the light of grace is borne and held before the whole world, that its darkness, unbelief and blindness be thereby seen and made light, and that men may also learn to see and know the way of life. Therefore is the church of Christ in the first place completely filled with the light of Christ as a lantern is illuminated and made bright by the light: that his light might shine through her to others.

Peter Riedeman

Therefore let everyone see to it that he run not of himself before he is called by the Lord or by his church in the prescribed manner. No one is sent by the Lord, however, or rightly chosen by the church except by the Holy Spirit;

Dirk Philips






G. CHURCH DISCIPLINE

Therefore take heed. If you see your brother sin, then do not pass him by as one that does not value his soul; but if his fall be curable, from that moment endeavour to raise him up by gentle admonition and brotherly instruction, before you eat, drink, sleep, or do anything else, as one who ardently desires his salvation, lest your poor erring brother harden and be ruined in his fall, and perish in his sin.

Menno Simons

We have been united as follows concerning the ban: The ban shall be employed with all those who have given themselves to the Lord, to walk in His commandments, and with all those who are baptized into the one body of Christ and who are called brethren or sisters, and yet who slip sometimes and fall into error and sin, being inadvertently overtaken. The same shall be admonished twice in secret and the third time openly disciplined or banned according to the command of Christ. Matt. 18. But this shall be done according to the regulation of the Spirit (Matt. 5) before the breaking of bread, so that we may break and eat one bread, with one mind and in one love, and may drink of one cup.

The Schleitheim Confession

Thereby he teaches expressly that believers shall have nothing to do with one who calls himself a brother, but is a fornicator, or covetous, or idol worshipper, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a thief; with such the Christians shall have no fellowship… This word, together with the Holy Spirit, is the judge of the church of all false brothers, against all heretics, who after sufficient admonition do not improve, and all disorderly and disobedient persons. On the Lord’s day no other sentence will be pronounced, as the Lord himself says. The church has received this word from God, by which in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit she testifies, judges, receives and expels. Whatever on earth she thus binds or looses with the word and spirit of the Lord, is bound or loosed in heaven.

Dirk Philips






H. THE WORD AND THE LETTER

(Righteous persons) glory in that they understand God their saviour and know him, not through the dead letter which you call God’s word, since it is only a witness to his Word, but through the indwelling of Christ (Gal. 2:20). Cessation from sin (1 Pet. 4) and lowliness before the world (1 Cor. 1:27, 2:1ff). One is raised up and becomes righteous before God in one’s heart (Luke 2:79).”

Hans Umlauft (1539)

Whoever has received God’s new covenant, that is, whoever has had the law written into his heart by the Holy Spirit is truly righteous. Whoever thinks that he can observe the law by means of the Book ascribes to the dead letter what belongs to the living Spirit. Whoever does not have the Spirit and imagines that he will find him in scripture looks for light and finds darkness, looks for life and finds only death, not only in the Old Testament but also in the New…. Whoever has really laid hold of truth can assess it without Scripture.

Hans Denck

I value the Holy Scriptures above all human treasures but not as high as the Word of God, which is living, powerful and eternal, and which is free and unencumbered by all of the elements of this world. For, insofar as it is God himself it is spirit and no letter, written without pen and paper that it may never be expunged. Therefore also salvation cannot be tied to the scriptures, however important and good they may be with respect to it. The cause is that it is not possible for the Scriptures to improve and evil heart even if it is highly learned. A pious heart, however, that is a heart in which there is a true spark of godly zeal, will be improved through all things.

Hans Denck

Our dispute is over the Word of God. We teach that there are two senses of the Word of God, the Word that was in the beginning with God and is God, through whom all things were created, and the scriptures, the written Word of God. We say, teach and confess therefore, that there are two senses of the Word of God… There is a vast difference between the Word of life, which is Christ himself… and the written Word, which is usually proclaimed by persons who themselves live without the Spirit and who are without the Spirit and who are without the fiery power from above.

Hans De Ries

I. SUFFERING AND MARTYRDOM

True believers in Christ suffer only tribulation and every kind of opposition. Christians must be like Christ the head, whose members they are through suffering.

Hans Schaffer

True Christians must here be persecuted for the sake of truth and righteousness, but they persecute no one on account of his faith. For Christ sends his disciples as sheep among wolves (Mt. 10:16). However, the sheep does not devour the wolf, but the wolf the sheep. Those who persecute others on account of their faith can nevermore be counted as a church of the Lord.

Dirk Philips

As soon as a man wants to begin to live as a Christian he will experience exactly those things that Christ experienced… That is the lot of all Christians for the disciple is no greater than the master. For it is grace if someone for the sake of conscience suffers godly sorrow… For it is grace with God when you patiently suffer for doing good. For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for us and left us an example that you should follow in his footsteps. He committed no sins neither was deceit found in his mouth. Christ suffered in the flesh. Arm yourselves with the thought that whoever suffers in the flesh ceases from sin… It is given to you that you not only believe in Christ but also suffer for him and fight the same battle. Paul says that you are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if you suffer with him in order that you may be exalted with him in glory. For we must be confirmed to the image of his Son… It is true, Christ’s suffering destroys sin but only if he suffers in man. For as the water does not quench my thirst unless I drink it, and as the bread does not drive away my hunger unless I eat it, even so Christ’s suffering does not prevent me from sinning until he suffers in me.

Leonhard Schiemer

Therefore be comforted and be of good courage, for God leads (his own) into hell and out again, he makes them sorrowful and then glad again, he gives death and also life, and after the storm he restores the sun. Therefore be long-suffering and wait patiently for the redemption of your bodies. Do not become slack or tired in the race and do not look behind you. Beware that the love in your hearts does not grow cold or be totally extinguished. Do not be ashamed of the bonds and suffering of Christ, but rejoice greatly in your hearts, for you know that nothing else has been promised you for your life on earth except suffering and death, tribulation, anxiety, distress and great persecution, pain, torture, insult and shame at the hands of godless men. This is the true sign and seal of all the pious children of God, the sign of Christ or the Son of Man and all his members which must appear at the last time according to the word of the Lord. Yes, cross and tribulation truly adorns all the children of God. It is a beautiful honour in the sight of God and all the saints; a deserved glory and wreath of joy from them. For this was the way of the holy prophets and patriarchs and of Christ the holy Lord and all his disciples, in fact of all the elect from the beginning of time. When therefore we endure for the sake of truth we must remember that it does not mean that we are the enemies of God but his friends and dear children…

Jacob Hutter


J. DISCIPLESHIP – FOLLOWING CHRIST JESUS

But the medium is Christ whom no one can truly know unless he follow him in his life, and no one may follow him unless he has first known him. Whoever does not know him does not have him and without him he cannot come to the Father. But whoever knows him and does not witness to him by his life will be judged by him… Woes to him who looks elsewhere than to this goal. For whoever thinks he belongs to Christ must walk the way that Christ walked.

Hans Denck

By this counsel we are all taught that we must hear Christ, believe in Christ, follow in his footsteps, repent, be born from above; become as little children, not in understanding, but in malice; be of the same mind as Christ, walk as he did, deny ourselves, take up his cross and follow him; and that if we love our father, mother, children, or life more than him, we are not worthy of him, nor are we his disciples.

Menno Simons

If a man is to come to the knowledge of the living Son of God he must await the work of God through the cross of Christ which we must carry and follow in the footsteps of Christ… And all who desire to grow in the body of Christ in which the Son of God is known and through which we become God’s children and joint heirs with Christ as Paul witnesses to the Romans (Rom. 8:17) (must) also suffer with him and grow into the image of the Son of God through the justification of the Father. And whoever will not follow the footsteps and ways (of Christ) and will not carry the cross of Christ he does not have or know the Son. And whoever does not have or know the Son does not have or know the Father, and cannot be illuminated by the graciousness of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Hans Hut

K. VIOLENCE AND WARFARE

No Christian, who wishes to boast in his Lord may use power to coerce and rule. For the realm of our king consists alone in the teaching and power of the Spirit. Whoever truly acknowledges Christ as Lord ought to do nothing but what he command shim. Now he commands all his disciples to teach evildoers and to admonish them for their improvement. If they will not listen we should allow them to be heathens and avoid them…
Hans Denck

Our weapons are not weapons with which cities and countries may be destroyed, walls and gates broken down, and human blood shed in torrents like water. But they are weapons with which the spiritual kingdom of the devil is destroyed and the wicked principle in man’s soul is broken down, flinty hearts broken, hearts that have never been sprinkled with the heavenly dew of the Holy Word. We have and know no other weapons besides this, the Lord knows, even if we should be torn to a thousand pieces, and if as many false witnesses rose against us as there are spears of grass in the fields, and grains of sand upon the seashore.

Menno Simons

We are agreed as follows concerning the sword: The sword is ordained of God outside the perfection of Christ. It punishes and puts to death the wicked, and guards and protects the good. In the Law the sword was ordained for the punishment of the wicked and for their death, and the same (sword) is (now) ordained to be used by the worldly magistrates.
In the perfection of Christ, however, only the ban is used for a warning and for the excommunication of the one who has sinned, without putting the flesh to death - simply the warning and the command to sin no more.

The Schleitheim Confession

The people of the kingdom of this world are equipped for fighting against their enemies with carnal weapons – spear, sword, armour, guns and powder. The people in Christ’s kingdom are equipped with spiritual weapons – the armour of God, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit – fight against the devil, the world, and their own flesh, together with all that which arises against God and his Word (Eph. 6:2, 2 Cor. 10).

Hans Schnell

No, dear sirs, no, (bloodshed) will not be able to free you in the judgement day of God (Lk. 22:50). I am speaking the truth to you in Christ: take seriously the disciples of Christ who are baptised correctly, inwardly with the Spirit and with fire, and externally with water according to God’s Word. They know no weapons except patience, hope, silence and God’s Word.

Menno Simons



L. OATHS

The oath serves no other purpose than to make men testify truly. Can the truth not be told without oaths? Do all testify to the truth even when under the oath? To the first question you must say yes, and to the last no. Is the oath the truth itself to which one testifies, or does the truth depend upon the man who takes the oath? Why does not the magistracy then accept the testimony confirmed by yea and nay as commanded of God instead of that confirmed by that which is forbidden? For it can punish those who are found false in their yea and nay as well as those who swear falsely.

Menno Simons

M. EQUALITY

Always and everywhere I have said as follows about the community of goods: that each man should have regard for his neighbour, so that the hungry might be fed, the thirsty refreshed, the naked clothed. For we are not lords of our own property, but stewards and dispensers. Assuredly no one could say that we claim that one should take his own from anybody and make it common property; rather we would say: if anyone would take your cloak, give him your coat also.

Balthaser Hubmaier

Now, since all the saints have fellowship in holy things, that is in God, who also has given to them all things in his Son Christ Jesus – which gift none should have for himself, but each for the other; as Christ also has nothing for himself, but has everything for us, even so all the members of his body have nothing for themselves, but for the whole body, for all the members. For his gifts are not sanctified and given to one member alone, or for one member’s sake, but for the whole body with its members.

Peter Riedeman

N. THE WORLD/FLESH AND THE KINGDOM/SPIRIT

The devil is the prince over the whole world, in whom all the children of darkness rule. Christ is the prince of the spirit, in whom all who walk in the light live.

Michael Sattler

There are two distinguishable kingdoms on earth – namely the kingdom of this world and the peaceable kingdom of Christ. These two kingdoms cannot share or have communion with one another. The people in the kingdom of this world are born of the flesh, are earthly and carnally minded. The people in the kingdom of Christ are reborn of the Holy Spirit, live according to the Spirit, and are spiritually minded.

Hans Schnell

We are agreed (as follows) on separation: A separation shall be made from the evil and from the wickedness which the devil planted in the world; in this manner, simply that we shall not have fellowship with them (the wicked) and not run with them in the multitude of their abominations. This is the way it is: Since all who do not walk in the obedience of faith, and have not united themselves with God so that they wish to do His will, are a great abomination before God, it is not possible for anything to grow or issue from them except abominable things. For truly all creatures are in but two classes, good and bad, believing and unbelieving, darkness and light, the world and those who (have come) out of the world, God's temple and idols, Christ and Belial; and none can have part with the other.

The Schleitheim Confession

O. CHRISTIANS AND THE STATE

It is not that power in itself is wrong seen from the perspective of the evil world, for (the government) serves God in his wrath, but rather that love teaches her children a better way, namely to serve the graciousness of God. For it is the nature of love not to will or desire the hurt of anyone, but as much as is possible to serve for the betterment of everyone… And insofar as it were possible for a government to act in this way it could well be Christian in its office. Since however the world will not tolerate it, a friend of God should not be in government but out of it, that is if he desires to keep Christ as Lord and master. Whoever loves the Lord loves him regardless of his station. But he should not forget what characterises a true lover (of God), namely that for the Lord’s sake he renounces all power and to be subject to no one but the Lord

Hans Denck

…it will be observed that it is not appropriate for a Christian to serve as a magistrate because of these points: The government magistracy is according to the flesh, but the Christian's is according to the Spirit; their houses and dwelling remain in this world, but the Christian's are in heaven; their citizenship is in this world, but the Christian's citizenship is in heaven; the weapons of their conflict and war are carnal and against the flesh only, but the Christian's weapons are spiritual, against the fortification of the devil. The worldlings are armed with steel and iron, but the Christians are armed with the armor of God, with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God.

The Schleitheim Confession
A. THE NEW COVENANT

And so it is clear, that the new covenant is not according to the old; for in the old covenant, the priest's lips were to preserve the people's knowledge. And Ezra had a pulpit of wood to read the law to the people upon; the law was written in tables of stone. But in the new covenant and testament Christ ends this priesthood, whose lips were to preserve the people's knowledge; and they are to look unto Christ Jesus, who is the treasure of wisdom and knowledge in the new covenant. In the new covenant, God writes his laws in their hearts, and puts them in their minds in the new covenant, by which all may know him, from the greatest to the least of them. And in the old covenant they had sanctuaries, and tabernacles, and temple, and the high priest was to light the candle and lamps in them. But in the new covenant, Christ who ends the first priesthood, and the old covenant, and abolishes the sanctuary, tabernacle, and outward temple and lamps, enlightens every man's spirit that comes into the world, in his tabernacle or temple, with his heavenly light, which is the life in himself, Christ Jesus, the high priest, made higher than the heavens. So he was made by the oath of God, and fulfils it; so were not the priests in the law and old covenant. So the new covenant is not according to the old; for the old covenant, and the law, commanded offerings and sacrifices; but Christ in the new covenant, offered up himself once for all the offerings and sacrifices, and ended them all, and the old covenant also.

George Fox (1679)

After these days (saith the Lord) I will put my Law in their hearts; and in their minds, I will write them; Here the Apostle witnesseth the holy Ghost to be the Witness & Testimony of Gods truth in the promise of the new Covenant of the Law written in the heart, & of the spirit putting in the inward parts; Now these that denies the spirit of God which gives testimony and witness of his everlasting Covenant, are strangers to this life, & Aliens to the Common wealth of Israel; for the Covenant of Promise is to the elect Seed of Abraham; not of the Bond-woman, but of the Free; not of the SEEDS, which are many, but of ONE, which is CHRIST, that is Elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit, unto obedience, & sprinkling of the blood of Christ, who doth purifie their souls in obeying the Truth, through the spirit;

Margaret Fell – A True Testimony


B. REGENERATION

And now is the Lord known, and his promise fulfilled, and his ordinances performed, who has put his law in their hearts, and written them in the inward parts of his people, and he is their God, and these need not teach every man his brother, and every man his neighbour, saying, know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest, said the Lord, and these, who can show this, that the law of God is written in their hearts, they know the Lord, from the least to the greatest, (Jer. 31:34). And in Ezekiel 11, the Lord said by him, I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you, and I will take their stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances to do them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezek. 11:19). Now this spirit is witnessed, which the Lord has put within his people, and has given them a new heart, and this is the one heart, the new heart, with which the people of God come to be joined together to God. This brings the people to know the Lord to be their God, and themselves to be his people according to his promise: they shall be unto me a people, and I will be unto them a God; but as for those that walk after the heart of their own detestable things, and their own abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, said the Lord God (Ezek. 11:21).

George Fox – The Second Covenant

We are of the true circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh; for he is not a Jew that is one outward, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and that is circumcision that is of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the Letter, who praise is not of men, but of god, Rom. 2. And this is the seal of the everlasting Covenant, that takes away the foreskin of the heart, and washes away the filth of the flesh; and here the knowledge of the true God is manifested in man, where God shews it unto him, according to the Apostles Doctrine (Rom. I:9).

Margaret Fell – A True Testimony




 C. THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE SPIRIT

But Christ was come, who ended the temple, and the priests, and the tithes, and Christ said, ‘Learn of me’, and God said, ‘This is my Son, hear ye him.’ For the Lord had sent me with his everlasting gospel to preach, and his word of life to bring them off all those temples, tithes, priests and rudiments of the world, that had gotten up since the apostles’ days, and had been set up by such who had erred from the spirit and power the apostles were in, so that they might come to know Christ their teacher, their counsellor, their shepherd to feed them, and their bishop to oversee them and their prophet to open to them, and to know their bodies to be the temples of God and Christ for them to dwell in.

The Journal of George Fox (p. 109)

So Christ, who is a spirit, rules in the Kingdom within a cleansed man's heart; and Christ is seen not with the natural eye, but with the spiritual eye. With the spiritual eye one sees the face of God, to have knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 4:6), and this is seen in ever increasing glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

George Fox – Concerning the Kingdom

for this is the rock and Foundation on which the whole Church is built, CHRIST JESUS the LIGHT, and precious Stone, which Jews & Gentiles that are saved, are built on; for he is their Peace who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of Partition which was between, for through him we have doth an access to the Father, & are built upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, JESUS CHRIST himself being the chief Corner-stone, in whom all the Building fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy people in the Lord, who are builded together for an habitation of God, through the spirit; Here is the great Work of the Mystery of God, which he is working in this his day, whose Tabernacle is with men, and the Most High dwells in the Kingdoms of men

Margaret Fell – A True Testimony

D. BAPTISM

Christ said, unless a man is born again of water and of the spirit, (spiritual water) he cannot see the kingdom of God, nor enter into it (Jn. 3:3,5,8). So no man in his first natural birth can see the kingdom of God, nor enter into it, nor know the things of God. For those who see the kingdom of God, they come to the spirit of God, and the spiritual birth by which the things of God are known, and the kingdom of God; and John the divine said, he was in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9) then he saw it. And the apostle Paul said, God has translated us into the kingdom of his dear son. And so then these (John, Paul, and others) saw the kingdom, and were in it (Co. 1:13). 

George Fox – To All That Would Know the Way to the Kingdom

In the world there be many sorts and forms of baptisms, but in Christ there is but one, and that is that of the Spirit; and this is the baptism of Christ, and all that are baptized with it are baptized into his death, buried with him to the world, its ways and worships, loves and friendships, and to all that in them is which would conform or bow thereto; and through this death is the seed of God raised up out of the grave, quickened by the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead. And all that are baptized with this Spirit (and the old man dead and buried) they are raised a spiritual seed unto God, holy and zealous of good works, being begotten again of another nature from above, which is but one; and all, as they are baptized herein, grow into one in God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ.

James Nayler – Love to the Lost









E. CRUCIFIXION AND REBIRTH

...for the cross is to the carnal, wild, heady, brutish nature in you, which lies above the seed of God in you, and oppresseth the pure. Now giving this up to be crucified makes way for that which is pure to arise and guide your minds up to God, there to wait for power and strength against whatever the light of God makes manifest to be evil, and so to cast it off, and so you shall see where your strength lies and who it is in you that works the will and the deed, and then you shall be brought into a possession of what you have but had a profession, and find the power of what you had but in words, which is hid from all professions in the world and is revealed no other way but by the pure light of God dwelling in you, and you in it.

James Nayler (1653)

For now you know the power of God, which is the cross of Christ, and are come to it, which crucifies you from the state that Adam and Eve were in in the Fall, and so from the world; by which power of God you come to see the state of Adam and Eve were in before they fell… Yea I say and to a state higher, the seed, Christ the second Adam, by whom all things were made… and the way is Christ the light, the life, the truth and the saviour, the redeemer, the sanctifier, the justifier; and so in his power and light and life who is the way of God, conversion, regeneration and translation are known, from death to life, darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God again.

George Fox – Epistle (1656)

F. WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

I stepped up, and asked the priest, ‘Do you call this place (the steeple house) a church? or ‘Do you call this mixed multitude a church?’ For the woman asked a question and he ought to have answered it, having given liberty for any to speak. But instead of answering me, he asked me, what a church was? I told him, the church was the pillar and ground of truth, made up of living stones, living members, a spiritual household, which Christ was the head of; but he was not the head of a mixed multitude, or of an old house made up of lime, stones, and wood.

George Fox - Journal

So (Christ) is the head of the Church, and they are living stones; but all you now who put the letter for the word, and have got it in your minds, and gather assemblies by it; this you cannot witness. And it is ignorance for you to say that the letter is the word; when the letter says, God is the word. And it is a lie to speak and say that the steeple-house is the church; or to say, those who are gathered by the form of the letter, is the Church of God; for the Church is the pillar and ground of truth, gathered by the eternal power that was before the letter was; and all who are in this church, as it is called of the world, and live in the comprehension of the letter, and the earthly part yet standing, there is devilishness in your minds, and earthliness, and pride, and filth. If you hearken to that light in your conscience, it will let you see so; and while those are standing, such whose sacrifice God accepts not, and praises (while nature is standing) God accepts not, which is Cain's, to which God has no respect, but only to Abel's.

George Fox – To All That Would Know the Way to the Kingdom

G. CHURCH DISCIPLINE

God is a God of order, and not of confusion; and the apostle said to the church of Christ, ‘Let all things be done decently, and in order.’ Mark, all things in the church of Christ. So then there is nothing to be done indecently, out of the order of the peaceable truth; for God is not the author of confusion, or tumults, or unquiet, but of peace in all the churches of the saints. And therefore, if God is not the author of such confusion, tumults, and unquiet, but of peace in all the churches of the saints; then confused, tumultuous, unquiet, and indecent, and disorderly spirits, with the power and spirit of God, they must be admonished to the peaceable spirit of God in them, and with it judge out the contrary, else the church of Christ, in its power and peaceable spirit, can have no unity with them, but with the spirit and power of Christ, judge that indecent, confused, tumultuous, unquiet, disorderly spirit.

George Fox – Concerning Such as Cry Against Orders

Now concerning gospel-order: though the doctrine of Jesus Christ [Mat 18:15-17] requireth his people to admonish a brother or sister twice, before they tell the church, let that limiteth none, so that they shall use no longer forbearance, before they tell the church, but that they shall not less than twice admonish their brother or sister before they tell the church. And it is desired of all, that before they publicly complain, they wait in the power of God to feel, if there is no more required of them to their brother or sister, before they expose him or her to the church: let this be weightily considered. And further, when the church is told, and the party admonished by the church again and again, and he or they remain still insensible and unreconciled, let not final judgment go forth against him or her, till every one of the meeting have cleared his or her conscience; that if any thing be upon any further to visit such a transgressor, they may clear themselves, that if possible the party may be reached and saved. And after all are clear of the blood of such an one [Ezek 3:17-21], let the judgment of Friends in the power of God go forth against him or her, as moved, for the Lord's honour and glory's sake, that no reproach may come or rest upon God's holy name, truth, and people.

George Fox -

H. THE WORD AND THE LETTER

And (the priest) told the people that the Scriptures were the touchstone and judge by which they were to try all doctrines, religions and opinions, and to end controversy. Now the Lord’s power was so mighty upon me and so strong in me, that I could not hold, but was made to cry out and say, ‘Oh, no, it is not the Scriptures’….. But I told them what it was, namely the Holy Spirit, by which the holy men of God gave forth the Scriptures, whereby opinions, religions and judgements were to be tried; for it led into all Truth, and so gave the Knowledge of all Truth.

George Fox (Journal)

The scriptures of truth are the words of God and not the Word, and Christ who was before the scriptures were given forth, by whom the world was made, is the Word of God, who fulfilled the words; the scriptures end in him, who was before they were spoken forth.

George Fox (Works Vol.3, p.462)

“I had no slight esteem of the holy scriptures, but they were very precious to me, for I was in that spirit that gave them forth, and what the Lord opened in me I later found was agreeable to them”

Fox - Journal

There is not nor can there be any knowledge of God but by revelation from Jesus Christ which is before the letter was, which the letter declares.

James Nayler - The Railer Rebuked

…because (the scriptures) are only a declaration of the fountain, and not the fountain itself, therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal ground of all Truth and knowledge, nor yet the “adequate primary rule of faith and manners.” Nevertheless, as that which giveth a true and faithful testimony of the first foundation, they are and may be esteemed a secondary rule, subordinate to the Spirit, from which they have all their excellency and certainty; for as by the inward testimony of the Spirit we do alone truly know them, so they testify, that the Spirit is that guide by which the saints are led into all Truth: therefore, according to the Scriptures, the Spirit is the first and principal leader. And seeing we do therefore receive and believe the Scriptures, because they proceeded from the Spirit; therefore also the Spirit is more originally and principally the rule…

Robert Barclay - Apology





 I. SUFFERING AND MARTYRDOM

The second man is humble and lowly, meek and full of love to all, honors all men according to God, without respect of persons, would have all to come to life, stands in the wisdom of God which is pure and peaceable, is willing to be a fool to the world and serpent's wisdom, content to suffer wrongs, buffetings, persecutions, slanders, reviling, mocking, without seeking revenge, but bears all the venom the serpent can cast upon him with patience and thereby overcomes him and bruises his head, and is made perfect through suffering, and counts it joy, and rejoices in the cross and loss of all things that are visible, but looks at that which is eternal, for he knows that he cannot have both; for to be a friend to the world is the enemy of God.

James Nayler – A Discovery of the First Wisdom from Beneath and the Second Wisdom from Above

And this we witness, which should be every true christian's mind and duty. ‘That I may know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and be made conformable to his death, that by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.’(Phil.3:10-11) Now this should be every true christian's mind, but here is a fellowship in the sufferings or afflictions, and to be made comfortable to his death. Who will come into this fellowship, think you now, of the letter-professors that put confidence in their flesh, and plead for the old man, and the body of death and sin, as long as they live? Such will not follow hard towards the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14), but rail at us, and persecute us…

Glory to God and our Lord Jesus Christ, that now these twenty-five years, since we were known to be a distinct and separate people, hath given us faithfully to suffer for his Name, without shrinking or fleeing the Cross; and what liberty we now enjoy, it is by his mercy, and not by any outward working or procuring of our own, but 'tis he has wrought upon the hearts of our opposers; nor was it any outward interest hath procured it unto us, but the testimony of our harmlessness in the hearts of our superiors: for God hath preserved us hitherto in the patient sufferings of Jesus, that we have not given away our cause by persecuting any, which few, if any, Christians, that I know, can say.

Robery Barclay – Apology

Christ’s Kingdom is not set up by Carnal Weapons, for Christ said, My Kingdom is not of this world; and therefore his Servants do not fight: Now all you who profess your selves to be Christians and Gospellers, and are fighters with Clubs and Swords about your Religion, you are not Christ’s Servants, but are contending for Earthly Kingdoms, for Christ’s Kingdom is fought for with spiritual weapons in patience and sufferings; and Christ said to his Disciples, which would have had Fire come down from Heaven to consume them that were contrary minded to them, (as the Prophet did) he turns him about, and rebukes them and told them, they did not know what spirit they were of, He came not to destroy mens lives, but to save them; and so they that destroy mens lives, and do not save them, are not in Christ’s mind, nor way, but are under the rebuke of him, and do not know what spirit they are of themselves; and therefore they that are wise will not trust their Souls, Bodies, or Spirits in the hands of such.

George Fox – Some principles of the Elect People of God


J. DISCIPLESHIP – FOLLOWING CHRIST JESUS

That righteousness which God accepts is but one, which is his own, perfectly fulfilled and manifest in the world in Christ Jesus the light and Savior thereof; which righteousness is not of the world, nor manifest to the world, nor in the world received, but by the world ever judged as unrighteousness, nor can the world inherit it, but only they who believe in the light of Christ, which God hath given into the world, to lead out of the world to Christ, where God's righteousness is. And there be many talkers of this righteousness, yet none inherit it further than by faith they receive the Son of righteousness, and with him his righteousness is freely imputed, or put into the creature, a free gift from the Father; and with this righteousness is the creature made righteous even as he is righteous, even as the measure of Christ is received, and no further; and whose life is kept in the measure of him, as he is so are we in this present world, and not of this world, even as he is not of this world; and herein is boldness in the day of judgment, in that which is perfect.

James Nayler – Love to the Lost

The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.

Declaration to Charles II (1660)













K. VIOLENCE AND WARFARE

And as they war not against men's persons, so their weapons are not carnal, nor hurtful to any of the creation; for the Lamb comes not to destroy men's lives, nor the work of God, and therefore at his appearance in his subjects, he puts spiritual weapons into their hearts and hands: their armor is the light, their sword the Spirit of the Father and the Son; their shield is faith and patience; their paths are prepared with the gospel of peace and good will towards all the creation of God. Their breastplate is righteousness and holiness to God; their minds are girt with godliness, and they are covered with salvation, and they are taught with truth. And as they war not against men's persons, so their weapons are not carnal, nor hurtful to any of the creation; for the Lamb comes not to destroy men's lives, nor the work of God, and therefore at his appearance in his subjects, he puts spiritual weapons into their hearts and hands: their armor is the light, their sword the Spirit of the Father and the Son; their shield is faith and patience; their paths are prepared with the gospel of peace and good will towards all the creation of God. Their breastplate is righteousness and holiness to God; their minds are girt with godliness, and they are covered with salvation, and they are taught with truth.

James Nayler – The Lambs’ War

..for we have chosen the Son of God to be our King, and he hath chosen us to be his People; whose Kingdom is not of this World (John 18:36), neither is his Warfare with carnal Weapons (2 Corinthians 10:4), neither is his Victory by the murdering and killing of men’s Persons; but we are given up to bear and suffer all things for his Name's sake; and our present Glory and Renown therein stands till the appointed time of our Deliverance, without the Arm of Flesh, or any multitude of an Host of men; this we declare.                   

Edward Burrough - To the Present Distracted and Broken Nation of England

Our principle is, and our Practice have always been, to seek peace and ensue it and to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God, seeking the good and welfare and doing that which tends to the peace of all. We know that wars and fightings proceed from the lusts of men (as Jas. iv. 1-3), out of which lusts the Lord hath redeemed us, and so out of the occasion of war. The occasion of which war, and war itself (wherein envious men, who are lovers of themselves more than lovers of God, lust, kill, and desire to have men's lives or estates) ariseth from the lust. All bloody principles and practices, we, as to our own particulars, do utterly deny, with all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world.

Declaration to Charles II (1660)
 
L. OATHS

They gave me the book to swear on, and the book saith, Swear not at all: But I told them, if they could prove that after Christ Jesus and his apostles had forbidden men to swear, they had allowed it, I would swear. Thus I said, and my allegiance lies in truth and faithfulness, not in swearing, and so should all your allegiance lie, if you did well. I do not deny swearing upon some account, and own it upon others, but I deny it, because Christ and the apostle have said, I should not swear at all.

George Fox - Journal




M. EQUALITY

God is against you, you covetous cruel oppressors who grind the faces of the poor and needy, taking your advantage of the necessities of the poor, falsifying the measures and using deceitful weights, speaking that by your commodities which is not true and so deceiving the simple, and hereby getting great estates in the world, laying house to house and land to land till there be no place for the poor; and when they are become poor through your deceits then you despise them and exalt yourselves above them, and forget that you are all made of one mould and one blood and must all appear before one judge, who is no respecter of persons, nor does he despise the poor; and what shall your riches avail you at that day when you must account how you have gotten them and whom you have oppressed? Yea, woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his own house, that buildeth a house with oppression: the stone in the wall and the beam in the timber shall cry out against him.

James Nayler - A Discovery of the First Wisdom from Beneath and the Second Wisdom from Above


N. THE WORLD/FLESH AND THE KINGDOM/SPIRIT

The first man is of the earth earthly: minds earthly things, lives in the earth, delights in the earth, lusts after the earth, covets, contends and sues for it; for his treasure is in the earth and his heart is with it; for it is his portion; and his thoughts, words and wisdom are all employed about it, plotting and forecasting how to compass it and fetch it out of the hands of others, to heap up; but is never satisfied, but is a servant to it; it is his life, his joy; and if it be taken from him his comfort is gone: it is his god, and he worships it, and would have all to worship him because of the abundance of it that he has got together; for he knows no other God nor greater happiness than what he sees with carnal eyes, & this all his actions witness; and this is he that is exalted above all that is called God and opposes God in all his commands.

The second man is the Lord from heaven, and he that bears his image minds heavenly things and delights in heavenly things; for he is spiritual and judges not according to outward appearance; for the evil eye that offends is plucked out, that eye which leads into visible things; and there is an eye turned inward which pierces into the hidden treasure which is eternal, which the natural eye sees not. And having once got a sight of the true riches, he casts away all his idols and idol-worships, and whatever is perishing, and treads upon all that may hinder his enjoyment thereof, though they have been never so dear to him; now it is become base, dross and dung, that he may obtain the invisible riches.

James Nayler - A Discovery of the First Wisdom from Beneath and the Second Wisdom from Above

O. CHRISTIANS AND THE STATE

And herein is the clear difference between heathens and Christians. The one exercise justice, and judgment, and righteousness, which is of God and in his will, whereby they rule over all unrighteousness of men of corrupt minds and principles whatsoever, and stand in the authority of God a terror to the evildoer. The other exercise lordship over men's persons, in their own wills, which they set up in their selfish principle, in carnal policy, who lay the sword upon the just as on the unjust, if he bow not to their wills; which who stands in the will of God may not do; and so they that abide in the fear of God do ever suffer by such as are out of his fear. And though these be set in their places by the permission or appointment of God, yet not knowing him who ordereth all things, to order them, though they are restrained from evil, or made to do his will, yet have they no reward nor share in it, not doing it in obedience of God, nor from a principle of equity, not knowing Christ guiding and leading them therein; they are no Christians whatever they may call themselves.

James Nayler – Love to the Lost

I own allegiance to the King, as he is the King of England, but Christ Jesus is King of my conscience… I would rather choose prison for obeying God, than my liberty for obeying men, contrary to my conscience.

Margaret Fell – Trial at Lancaster, 1664