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Recovering the Early Quaker Universal Mission and Message

Recovering the Early Quaker Universal Mission and Message

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Recovering the Early Quaker

Universal Mission and Message

What can you expect from these five lectures? That seems to be the appropriate question that you, the potential reader would care to know before committing yourself to downloading and reading. Don’t be put off by the word ”lectures.” This material is neither dull nor boring. Lewis Benson covered the following topics:

  • The Universal Character of Christianity.
  • The Universal Gospel Preached by the Apostles.
  • The Universal Gospel Preached by the Early Quakers.
  • The Gospel Preached by John Wesley and its Echos in Modern Christianity.
  • The New Foundation Movement: Its Universal Gospel Message and
  • Mission.

You will notice the prevalence of Lewis’ insistence on the universality of the message proclaimed by the Apostles and again by the early Quakers. This message was and yet is THE good news for all mankind, everywhere, and of all times. Modern interpreters of the early Quaker movement will recognize that they believed that Jesus Christ had given them this universal message to preach and had commanded them to go forth to all nations. It is entirely different to come to the understanding that Jesus Christ did give them this message and this commission.

When you come to this understanding–the difference between “they believed . . . ” and “this is the universal gospel, delivered by Jesus Christ to be preached to the world”–then you have to ask what is the source of all these other gospels? The adherents of all these other gospels stand in as much need to hear this universal gospel as do those who are outside Christendom. 

Two quotes from these pages suffice to give you a taste of what Lewis
Benson is offering to any who will read through these pages:

What did George Fox actually say when he preached the gospel message to groups of non-Quakers for the first time? It is not a complicated message. It is, first of all, a proclamation that Jesus Christ is alive and that he can be known as a living reality as he is present in the midst of all who gather together in his name . . . He is present in a functional way. We can know who he is by what he does when he is present in our midst. (pp. 30-31) [Emphasis added]

These three collaborators [Joseph Pickvance, John Curtis, and Lewis Benson] had spent a considerable time studying early Quaker writings and especially the writings of George Fox. We were all Quakers who were not satisfied with the kind of answers we were getting from the Society of Friends as to the content of the Quaker message and the nature of the Quaker society. We discovered that there was a whole universe of Christian thought and experience in the writings of George Fox that had not survived in any living Quaker tradition and we became convinced that what was most needed in the Society today could be supplied by Fox's Christian message. (p.52)

“A whole universe of Christian thought and experience in the writings of George Fox” not extant in any living Quaker tradition. A Christ who is to be known “by what he does when he is present in our midst.” This is what I hungered for when first encountering the message of early Friends. These lectures point to the table where that hunger can be satisfied.


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