Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Wholeness Necessary in Faith

Religion, indeed all human thought and action, seems given to divisive fragmentation--to one extreme or another; almost always leaving us unbalanced, often distorted in our quest for truth.

As Howard H. Brinton insightly explains in Friends for 300 Years this fragmentation even happens to renewal movements such as the Friends who came into being for the very purpose of regaining the wholistic truth.

Yet the Quaker movement itself swings between 4 poles, seldom seeming to walk in wholeness.

An excerpt by Brinton:

Quaker Thought and the Present

"Through the three centuries of Quaker history the four primary elements present in all religion have at different times exerted their influence in varying degrees."

"During the first century an a half mysticism and evangelicalism were in balance in the group as a whole though many individuals tended to stress one or the other;

during the nineteenth century mysticism and evangelicalism were in conflict, each pressing the other to extremes in the group as a whole, though in many individuals the two were in balance; and during the past half century rationalism and humanitarianism have assumed greater prominence, sometimes becoming dominant, though here again there are some individuals in whom the four tendencies are in balance."

"The best type of religion is one in which the mystical, the evangelical, the rational and the social are so related that each exercises a restraint on the others. Too exclusive an emphasis on mysticism results in a religion which is individualistic, subjective and vague;

too dominant an evangelicalism results in religion which is authoritarian, creedal and external; too great an emphasis on rationalism results in a cold, intellectual religion which appeals only to the few; too engrossing a devotion to the social gospel results in a religion which, in improving the outer environment, ignores defects of the inner life which cause the outer disorder."

"In Quakerism the optimum is not equality in rank of the four elements. The mystical is basic."

Brinton goes on to warn against "vitalism which worships the life-force in its biological sense" and the other distortions of true worship.

About the only point where I disagree with Brinton is when he says the 4 qualities "each exercise a restraint on the others." It is rather that when most bathed in the Light, the 4 parts of true spiritual reality relate/commune, giving a redeeming uplifting of each other and are the Seed of Ultimate Fulfillment.

Read Friends for 300 Years (it has been updated to Friends for 350 Years)
and be not only intellectually enlightened, but raised up in the Spirit!

Friend Daniel

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