Friends consult the Bible to check their own life events with other people’s experience of learning to walk in the Light. Early Friends knew their Bibles very well used biblical language and quotations but they said they followed the “Living Word”.
Advices and Queries — Questions and Counsel
These booklets are the fundamental guides to Quaker Life.
Advices and Queries are not a call to increased activity by each individual Friend but a reminder of the insights of the Society. Within the community there is a diversity of gifts. We are all therefore asked to consider how far the advices and queries affect us personally and where our own service lies. There will also be diversity of experience, of belief and of language.
ADVICES AND QUERIES
As Friends we commit ourselves to a way of worship which allows God to teach and transform us. We have found corporately that the Spirit, if rightly followed, will lead us into truth, unity and love: all our testimonies grow from this leading.
Advices and Queries should be a challenge and inspiration to Friends in their personal lives and in their life as a religious community which knows the guidance of the universal spirit of Christ, witness to in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
Friends maintain that expressions of faith must be related to personal experience. Some find traditional Christian language full of meaning; some do not. Our understanding of our won religious tradition may sometimes be enhanced by insights of other faiths. The deeper realities of our faith are beyond precise verbal formulation and our way of worship, based on silent waiting, testifies to this.
Our diversity invites us both to speak what we know to be true in our lives and to learn from others. Friends are encouraged to listen to each other in humility and understanding, trusting in the Spirit that goes beyond our human effort and comprehension. So it is for the comfort and discomfort of Friends that these advices and queries are offered, with the hope that we may all be more faithful and find deeper joy in God’s service.
“Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by, but that all, with the measure of light that is pure and holy, may be guided; and so in the light walking and abiding, these things may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not from the letter, for the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life”.
Take heed, dear Friends, the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.
(Postscript to an epistle to “brethren in the north” issued by a meeting of elders at Balby, 1656.)
LIVE IN THE LIGHT
by George Fox
A paraphrase in modern English, by Rex Ambler
So long as you live in the Light nothing can trip you up, because you will see everything in the Light. And if you love the Light, it becomes your teacher!
When you are out walking it’s there with you, in your heart – you don’t have to say “look over here”, ‘look over there’ and as you lie in bed it’s there with you too, teaching you, making you aware of that wandering mind of yours that likes to wander off, and of your attempts to master everything with your own thought and imagination – they themselves are mastered by the light.
For if you follow your own thoughts you will soon get lost. But if you live in this light it will reveal to you the root of your wrong-doing and the distortions of your life, and the degraded condition in which you live, and your endless thinking about everything.
As it shows you this, stand still, in the light. Don’t turn away to the left or the right. This is where you will need to be patient, where your ego will be brought down, where, in what seems like death to you, you will experience the forgiveness of God.
You will experience what it is to drink from the ‘waters of Shiloah which flow softly’ (Isaiah 8.6), you will see God’s promises fulfilled, the promises God made to ‘ the seed’ and we know (from Galatians 3.16) that ‘the seed refers to Christ’. So here you will find a saviour. You will come to know what it is to be chosen and received by God, and what it is to be rejected, cast away from God.
If you can accept what I am saying here and receive my testimony into your heart, the immortal seed will rise up (within you) as your own will is pushed out. For ‘it does not depend on human will or effort, but on God’s mercy’ (Romans 9:16) – ‘the chosen few have attained it ‘ (Romans 11:7).
So the first step to peace is to stand still in the light, as it reveals to you whatever (in your life) is opposed to it. And standing still there you will receive the power and strength to resist that part of you which the light has exposed.
Because this is where grace grows, where God alone is seen to be glorious and powerful, and where the unknown truth – unknown to the world out there – is revealed. The truth then liberates what has been held in prison, and in the course of time it revives it, leading it in time to the God who is beyond time.
Based on the tract “To All Who Would Know The Way To The Kingdom,” by George Fox.
“He wrote the tract in 1653 to articulate the Quaker message for the people of England. Joe Pickvance, who unearthed Fox’s original version called it ‘the founding document of the Quaker movement’. The language may be rather difficult for us, though, so here is a translation into modern English, picking up his allusions to the bible. For a discussion of this text see my Light to Live By (Quaker Books, 2002) pp 10-12”
“True Seeing” Workshops — Experiment with Light
To experience what George Fox and early Friends were really talking about a series of Workshops were designed by Rex and Catherine Ambler of Britain Yearly Meeting giving a modern description of the Process described by George Fox and early Friends.
The scientific method was being developed at the time of Fox, when Europe was over throwing religious, political and intellectual authority. In Britain George Fox rebelled against Puritan teaching and taught a basic simple four-step spiritual experiment:
Read: “Light to Live By”, borrow a CD or do it yourself!
“QUAKER BIBLE STUDY”
This type of Bible study has been enjoyed in British and South African meetings.
- Each person brings a bible
- Form a circle,
- Choose a facilitator
- Choose a text (a few verses telling one story is better than a huge chunk like a chapter)
- Go round the circle taking turns to read aloud.
Then answer the following questions one by one, giving plenty of time to think or write:
- What is the author’s main point?
- What new light do I find in this reading of this material?
- Is this material true to my experience?
- What problems do I have with it?
- What are the implications for my life?
- Having read this:
- What do I think?
- What do I feel?
- What do I believe?
Don’t rush: allow short silences between each contribution — time for listening, absorbing and thought
To avoid domination by vocal members, go round the circle asking members for suggestions from each person in turn.
An hour or hour and a half is probably long enough. End with silent worship so to absorb some of what has been said.