I have been searching for quotes from biblically sound Quakers. More specifically, Quakers in the Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends, from the years 1854 (the Gurneyite Schism) through 1965. Members of Ohio Yearly Meeting also referred to themselves as Gurneyite Friends, Orthodox Friends, Holiness Friends, and more recently, Evangelical Friends.
I came across the Ohio Yearly Meeting’s 1877 and 1879 statements condemning George Fox’s teaching of the “Inner Light.” Following are a few excerpts. I have emphasized certain points by bolding and [bracketing]:
The Meeting of Ministers and Elders of Ohio Yearly Meeting in 1877, “was brought into deep exercise and travail concerning unsound and mystical views and expositions which appear here and there in certain of our members, in opposition to the plain Scriptural doctrines of man’s darkness and deadness in sin by nature, and his redemption therefrom by the Lord Jesus Christ… it was concluded that a non-acceptance of this doctrine is a manifest disqualification for the station of Minister or elder…
We do not believe that there is any principle or quality in the soul of man, innate or otherwise, which, even though rightly used, will ever save a single soul; but that it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believed; and the Holy Spirit is sent to convince the ungodly of sin, who, upon repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ who died for us, are justified by his blood; and we repudiate the so-called doctrine of “Inner Light,” or “the gift of a portion of the Holy Spirit in the soul of every man,” as dangerous, unsound, and unscriptural.
In 1879 the following minute was added:
“… [To teach the Inner Light] is to imply that a capacity to receive salvation, is a portion of salvation, and that Light in the heart from Christ, however dim, is actually Christ Himself… It is a dangerous mysticism which knows no distinction between a Principle or an Influence, and Deity himself, continually confusing the two…”
Source: Minutes of the Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1879, pp. 28-30
I have access to additional resources – mainly by Edward Mott – discussing the OYM position against the Inner Light teaching. I have had some strong favorable feedback, expressing interest in reading more about the OYM position. I hope to place more of these OYM writings online.
Interesting – Holiness/Evangelical Friends back in 1877 condemning the “Inner Light” teaching. Yet today it seems that many members of the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International), especially outside the EFC-ER, see no problem associating with non-evangelical Quakers. These evangelical Friends seem to be condoning (or at least accomodating) “unsound and mystical views and expositions” including the “Inner Light” teaching. I, on the other hand, believe very strongly that we should separate ourselves from Quakers who hold such ungodly, antibiblical teachings.
Click here for my more recent blog on this, entitled “Quaker beliefs re: the “Inner Light” and salvation.”
By the way, I could not help but notice the 1877-1879 references to the “mystic” teachings of George Fox (considered one of the earliest Protestant mystics).
Interestly, Richard Foster introduced Spiritual Formation (via his book Celebration of Discipline) while pastoring an Evangelical Friends church. In essence, Richard Foster is a “modern Christian mystic”, following in the path of George Fox. (However, unlike George Fox, Foster incorporates practices from many other “faith traditions”/world religions, not just Quakerism.)
Regarding the teachings of Foster and other modern Christian mystics – why is it that the EFCI (like so many other evangelical denominations today) is not condemning the teachings of Spiritual Formation? Members of the EFCI who hold to Spiritual Formation know that it includes the Spiritual Disciplines. And they take part in numerous practices under the discipline of contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality. Do they not realize that these contemplative prayer/ contemplative spirituality practices are inherently mystic/ New Age-ish/occultish? God help the EFCI!