«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
55 When the term, inwardness, is used without upper case it is used as a reference to a more general understanding of inwardly focused spiritual practice i.e. reference intends a less specific definition and may incorporate the usage in other traditions, as, for example, Vedic where the term ‘meditation’ is sometimes used rather than ‘contemplation’. ‘Contemplation’ is used here to imply the silent witnessing of spiritual consciousness whereas in the eastern tradition the term ‘meditation’ is sometimes used to refer to a similar non-discursive involvement of spiritual consciousness.
56 Keiser, M. ‘The Growing up of Principles: Otherness in Robert Barclay’s Emergent Thinking’, Proceedings Quaker Theology Seminar 1998-9, pp. 66-78. And also Keiser, M. ‘Touched and Knit in the Life: Barclay’s Relational Theology and Cartesian Dualism’, Quaker Studies, 5, Issue 2, March 2001: pp.
141–164. Also ‘Reflecting Theologically from the Gathered Meeting: The Nature and Origin of Quaker Theology’, Quaker Theology,1-3, 1999-2001, Issue. 2, Spring 2000, pp. 1-9, Keiser writes, ‘That of God in everyone calls attention to the interiority and universality of God’s presence.’ (p. 23).
13 The understanding of worship, as shown in Table 1, is different from some interpretations of spiritual practice which include a degree of discursive thought.57 As shown below, Merton’s description is useful in identifying distinctions that are compatible with Quaker spiritual practice because his description a) excludes the notion of discursive
thinking, and b) indicates relevant issues. The latter include the following:
1) The term contemplative in itself relates to examination of whether the Quaker practice of turning inward, i.e. Quaker worship, is in fact best described as a contemplative process (as Ambler suggests).58
2) As Merton speaks of ‘meditative unity’, it raises the question as to whether the silence in which Friends engage individually and corporately does create the conditions to experience ‘unity’. 59
3) Concern over ‘the prayer of silence’, as raised in Merton, relates to the need to question how Friends, of the different historical periods discussed spoke, or wrote, of the focus of their worship60 i.e. whether silence itself forms a focus or what presuppositions about God are held, and give a framework to describe the experience known within this silence.
Issues 1-3 above and others, arising from previous scholarship (see 1.3 and 1.4 below), form the context within which Quaker Inwardness is considered in this thesis.
1.2.1 Summary of 1.2 This section has considered the fact that Quakerism arose within a context of extreme political unrest. It has stated that Fox’s concern, though taking place within the ongoing upheaval, was a genuine search for answers to spiritual questions. His injunction to his 57 Lectio Divina, for example, does not always remain a fully discursive engagement, but is more often discursive than contemplative.
60 Issues of God and Christ as interpreted by seventeenth century Friends and questioned by twentyfirst century Friends require further consideration – See chapter 5 for the latter.
Previous scholarship is reviewed next.
1.3 Quaker Inwardness: Relevant previous scholarship (Academic) Introduction This section examines previous scholarship in the area of this thesis, 1) to outline prior academic understandings of Quaker spirituality in relation to Inwardness and, 2) to delineate the original dimensions of the thesis.
Review of relevant literature indicates that previous academic consideration of the inward dimension of Quaker faith and practice has been disparate, often implicit rather than explicit and, to a large extent, disconnected. The authors discussed here adopt positions that are relevant to defining an understanding of Quaker Inwardness but do not build on each other’s work. The scholarship includes analysis of nuances in the meaning of Inwardness, using different reference points. The work of King, Eeg-Olofsson, Creasey, Endy, Gwyn, Bailey and Hinds is examined.
Consideration of the relevant scholarship is carried out under three headings.
1) The focus of knowledge gained in and through Inwardness;
2) The nature of knowledge gained as a) mystical (described as direct or unmediated) and b) psychological (described as mediated in various ways);
3) The purpose of knowledge gained as a) related to the model of Jesus Christ and b) as providing both inspirational and moral guidance.
There is, in the work discussed, considerable interweaving of these three themes but points of importance are separated in the review that follows. In the analytical processes of the scholars considered, taken separately and in combination, it can be seen that Inwardness is not understood as a simple term. Nonetheless, the differences of emphases contribute to general understanding and to recognition of factors of particular significance.
The sections below relate to the three key headings identified above.
This section highlights questions about the experiential focus of Inwardness and the manner in which the ‘inward’ and the ‘outward’ are felt to be related.61 Notions of the consequences of Inwardness are introduced.62 In examination of Inwardness, it might seem self-evident that any knowledge gained would be classified as ‘inward knowing’. However, this would be a misleading simplification, since the significance of what is known inwardly is often for the consequences it entails outwardly. Many of the authors write of the importance of
distinguishing between the ‘inward’ and the ‘outward’ both as reality and as experience:
they acknowledge the relationship between the two in different ways. For Creasey, there has been a ‘false severance’ between the ‘inward’ and the ‘outward’. He claims that this has resulted in Quakerism being in the ‘unenviable position of a religious movement lacking an adequate intellectual formulation and means of self-criticism’ over a considerable period of time.63 Endy’s examination of religious thought in the growth of Quakerism, distinguishing between inward and outward knowing, accepts a degree of confusion even ambiguity in usage of terms, most probably due to the fact that ‘dualism played a part’.64 For Gwyn, there is a ‘mutually informing relation’ between the two.
However, Gwyn suggests that outwardness is beguiling:
Forsaking inward knowledge for the outward one forsakes the one living path for the many, all dead-ends in a wilderness of confusion; one worships not the one God but many gods, all of them changing and contradictory; one hears not the one Word but many words with no understanding.65 61 Changing perceptions of this relationship are discussed more fully in connection with ‘growth of measure’ in chapter 6.
63 Creasey, M., ‘“Inward” and “Outward”’, Journal of the Friends Historical Society, Supplement No. 30 1962: p. 23.
64 Concerning. ‘Ambiguity’ in terms of lack of clarity regarding ‘the Quakers and “Inward” Religion’. See Endy, M., William Penn, pp. 75-6.
65 Gwyn, Apocalypse, p. 99.
Creasey, Endy and Gwyn consider the inward and outward as related but, to some degree, distinct, whereas Hinds claims that Quakers knew a continuity or ‘seamlessness’ between not only inward and outward, but also the social dimension of life. Hinds observes, quoting Richard Bailey, that for Quakers, ‘a new dispensation of the Spirit’ was already in place, in which ‘the indwelling Christ remade the subject not only spiritually but also corporeally’.66 This view leads to consideration, similar to that of Gwyn, of
eschatological issues in the revelatory experiences of Friends. Hinds claims that:
King Jesus was already returned, as the inward light dwelling within each believer.
This led, potentially and ultimately, to a quite different relationship to kairotic time, because the inward light brought with it the possibility of ‘the regaining of Paradise in the present’, and with it the end of chronos…’67 The interpretation of Quakers as living ‘out of time’ is important in the sense that Fox preached of the Eternal Being, as known to himself and potentially accessible to Friends in their worship. It is not that kairos and chronos are in themselves crucial to understanding Inwardness in Quaker theology, but rather that Fox himself seems to preach from a transcendental perspective that acknowledges the universal, immanent nature of Christ the Word kairotically.68 This position is analogous to mystical perspectives in that spiritual experience is found to be timelessly interwoven in the ever-present moment.69 Of additional importance, from the Quaker perspective, is Keiser’s view that the inward is not 66 Hinds, George Fox, p. 18. Bailey, R. New Light, p. 12, concerning Christ as ‘an operative power of the innermost being’.
67 Hinds, ibid, p. 90, (original emphasis).
68 Smart, N, (in Shepherd, J. ed.) Ninian Smart and World Religions, (Vol. 2), (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), p. 98 (Myth and transcendence, p. 483). For Smart, ‘Transcendence … is only intelligible by reference to five elements: nonspatiality, secret omnipresence, special presence, independence and creativity’. His discussion concerns the manner in which these elements are ‘compatible’ and ‘hang together’. These elements are not considered fully here but may have relevance to any future research into the subject of this thesis.
69 See below, next section – on the nature of knowledge gained.
17 separate from the outward, but rather exists as the ‘depth within, it is the inner dimension of everything’.70 Knowledge that is termed ‘inward’ is often related to recognition of ‘that of God’ in everyone. However, Creasey holds the view that ‘in Jesus Christ the word became flesh, the divine and eternal manifested and embodied itself in the human and the temporal, the “inward” made itself known in and through the “outward”’.71 A further point of note is that Creasey speaks of doctrinal differentiation between the
Quaker notions of:
He identifies not only the origination of this differentiation but also the leap-frogging resurgence and ascendancy of each at particular times and places in the history of the Religious Society of Friends. 73 It might appear that the appeal to ‘that of God in everyone’ relates to, what he terms, ‘Inner Light issues’, since ‘that of God’ is for Quakers often referred to as the Light within.74 Additionally it might appear that Christ ‘speaking to all conditions’ is a matter of Christology, since Quakers hold that Christ is the Inward Teacher. However, it would seem that there is overlap between these two aspects of Quaker theology. For Gwyn the very nature of Inwardness, as preached by Fox, is to do with the incarnation of Christ, as full embodiment of the Light, but also with the incarnation in humankind of the gospel that brings knowledge which exceeds the law.75 Within inward knowing is the promise of transformation that has the potential not only to 70 Keiser, ‘The Growing up of Principles’, also Table 6, with reference to the manner in which this thesis claims that Inwardness and outwardness become porous to each other.
71 Creasey, M. ‘“Inward” and “Outward”’ p. 24. See also Thomas, O. C. ‘Interiority and Christian Spirituality’, The Journal of Religion, 80, No. 1 (2000): pp. 41-60.
Reference to ‘that of God’ within is framed, by some authors discussed, in terms of the ‘inner light’.76 Issues concerning the Inner Light, as of the pre-existing Christ and the Light that humankind receives only in and through Christ Incarnate, are raised in EegOlofsson’s examination of Barclay’s Apology.77 So also are those of the Light as an ‘object perceived’ or as a ‘means of knowledge’ by means of which theology is lived as personal devotion within a community.78 In the latter interpretation, what becomes opened, or revealed, to awareness as experiential knowing, is sometimes categorised as inspirational and revelatory79 and at other times as practical.80 There is, of course, no reason why it should not be both.
There is little disagreement between these scholars that what is known inwardly is, in Endy’s terms, spiritual and vital reality rather than corporeal, as a dead notional description of reality. The focus of knowledge gained is worthy of the term ‘wisdom’, and as such it supersedes any trivial notions of human knowing. Inwardness leads to inspirational knowing. Gwyn quotes Fox, saying that having mortified the ‘earthly and
Keep to that of God in you, which will lead you up to God, when you are still from your own thoughts, and imaginations and desires and counsels of your own hearts, and motions, and will; when you stand single from all these, waiting upon the Lord, your strength is renewed; he that waits upon the Lord, feels his shepherd, and he shall not want; and that which is of God within everyone, is that which brings them together to wait on God, which brings them into unity, which joins their hearts
76 Dismissed by Creasey as “un-Foxian”, Creasey, Essays, p. xxxix.
77 Eeg-Olofsson, ‘Inner Light,’ p. 34. See also chapter 5. On ‘Inner’ and ‘inward’ light.
Note relevant consideration in Blaiklock E. M. (Tr.), The Confessions of St. Augustine, (London:
Hodder and Stoughton, 2009). According to Maggie Dawn’s foreword, theology is not, for Augustine, something to be thought out in private, but rather it is a personal devotional involvement in gaining knowledge to be lived with others as a dynamic discovery. This position pertains also to Quakers.