Waiting worship in the 19th century

The silence seems to fill the hour
Yet silence is not silent
It is a moment you become aware of sound
For the whole world sings the glory of God

So long ago, Fox spoke of knowing God experementally
So we wait to hear God in the silence
A man stands and begins to speak
Will God’s voice be heard in the speaking

A few words then there is a roar of sound
Wood beat upon wood
Impossible to hear the content of the message
Impossible to guess the meaning of the message

The spirit of anger descends
Writing anathama’s, arguing, perhaps splitting hairs
Finally agreeing to pray in different meeting houses
Unwilling to face another opinion

Today I remember this past
I wonder — how much was necessary?
Could things have been done differently?
Was the anger necessary?

When is Theology nothing but politics?
What is known, what is unknown?
Who should be embrased, who should be anathamized?
If God judges in the end, what judgments should be made now?

The memory of the day is ugly,
The legacy of those days are more uglyness
For the question of the twentyeth century was more of the same
“Are we being sectarian enough?”

Keven Robets often writes thoughtful essays from a Conservitive Friend’s standpoint. When I read this, I was reminded of the rudeness of the day. Friends arguing can be truly unfriendly. I know that politeness was also not the watchword of the 20th century, perhaps we will be less childish in the 21st.

I have read the accusations of Evans against Hicks, however a large part of me thinks that Hicks was made into a strawman… I’ve seen so little of Hicks himself beyond select quotes, as his oponents claimed he spoke. What I know of him is that he felt that people of his day tended to spirtualize the physical… generally, people would agree with him today. He questioned sustitutionary atonement… but, only sectarians have demanded a person agree with the mechanics of salvation. I do not know if he had a non-traditional view of God, only that people thought it was important that he was silenced. I also know, the resulting split did great damage that has still not been repaired. In fact in the 20th century there were splits over defining the process of sanctification, over whether or not it was right to dialogue with other Christian groups, if so which ones? and other trivial matters.


3 comments on “Waiting worship in the 19th century

  1. kevin says:

    We should never have separated. Each endpoint became unbalanced by the departure of the other, and the moderates in the middle dessicated because the vitality of the extremists was gone.

    We should have labored over it until there was unity.

    • The way I read the first of the separations… there was a desire to please proto-fundamentalist. (The ‘conservative’ side of a fight in the Presbyterian church.) In hindsight, pleasing hard liners, without joining their party is impossible.

  2. kevin says:

    One of the sad aspects of the first separation is that both J and W Evans lived to see the Orthodox splinter again during the Gurney division, in which the pendelum they swung so hard away from Hicks broke loose and left them.

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