Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, Part 3

  1. …why G.F. did not accept the precedent set by Jesus at his baptism (to fulfill all righteousness) – and the apostles?
  2. Similarly, communion. …I am unsure why G.F. dispensed with this altogether, rather than rectifying the errors and establishing a NT pattern – as the churches used to have agape meals and share bread and wine in memory of the Lord’s death until he comes again?

My first post on this subject gave Fox’s answer to the question of why reject water baptism as a Christian institution. The second post dealt with Fox’s answer regarding the “Lord’s supper.” In this post, I will cover the two points raised by Steve Thomas stated above.

And when Christ came to be baptized of John, John forbade him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?’ And Jesus said unto him, ‘Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness;’ (Matt. 3:15)

What does it mean to fulfill all righteousness? Is there a basis for righteousness other than adhering to New Testament patterns?

The only foundation of righteousness is the dialogic relationship with our Creator, the Word who was in the beginning, who became flesh and dwelt/dwells among us. In Him is life. The whole point of righteousness is life. When Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled,”(Matt. 5:6) he is talking about a hunger and thirst after life. And Jesus tells his disciples, concerning eating the bread of life, “The flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken/am speaking to you, these are breath, these are life. (John 6:63)

This is the strait gate and the narrow way that few find and enter. The broad gate and wide way includes all other approaches to righteousness and attempts to find life. Crying Lord, Lord, casting out devils and working miracles—all are of no account. They only garner the sentence, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity.” Jesus points out the path of wisdom: “He who hears my words and does them is likened to a wise man who dug deep and built his house upon the rock…” (See Matt. 7:13-29 & Luke 6:46-49)

Steve’s question could arise from the common conception that the New Testament Church establishes a pattern that is to be followed by all subsequent generations. In taking up this issue, Lewis Benson stated:

The objective standard against which most Protestant Restorationists measure the church is the Bible. They make their claim on the ground that the pattern of the true church is set forth in the New Testament. They believe that the Restoration of the church depends on the closest possible imitation of the New Testament pattern….This theory rests on two misconceptions: namely, that the New Testament furnishes us with a single clear picture of the pattern that is to be the norm of Christian community for all time, and that this pattern is imitable.
I have said that George Fox was a Restorationist and he was; but he was a very different kind of Restorationist…
Fox wanted to see the church restored but…His concern was to restore to the church the power to stand united and not scatter when the time comes to respond in corporate obedience to Christ’s commands. The early church was able through faithfulness to overcome the world and not be overcome by the world. It is this world-overcoming church whose validity is not in its form but in power that Fox wanted to see restored.
“. . . the church in God, is not in imitation, gathered, . . . it is a lie to . . . say, . . . they that are gathered by the form of the letter, is the church of God; for the church is the pillar and ground of truth, gathered by the eternal power that was before letter was”. (Works of Fox, Vol. IV, p. 18) Fox believed that the order of the emerging Quaker community was consistent with the witness of Scripture, but he did not expect that in every particular the Quaker community would be identical with the scriptural account of the early church. He puts his position most plainly and boldly when he asserts: “And if there was no scripture for our men’s and women’s meetings, Christ is sufficient . . . he is our rock and foundation to build upon”. (Works of Fox, Vol. VIII, p. 115)….
In Fox’s view the church of the New Covenant must be a holy people established in righteousness. This holy people, which is the true Israel, is only made possible through the continuing presence of Christ in the midst of his church. (The Quaker Vision, New Foundation publication No. 4, 1979, p 20-22)

So, in summation, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In Him was life and the life was the light of men…This was the true light that enlightens everyone coming into the world…To those who received this light was given the power to become children of God. (See John 1:1-13) This is what it means to be righteous and to fulfill all righteousness. This relationship of hearing and obeying the light that comes from the life in the Word is the basis for the existence of the New Covenant community. Christ is the author of our faith and also our practice. The Church of the first century A.D. had the same struggle as do we today of living obediently to the voice of the true Shepherd.

Further reading:

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About Ellis Hein

I am a woodturner and the author of The Woodturner's Project Book. I have a life-long interest in the gospel preached by George Fox and the early Quakers. You can see some of my material on that subject at http://nffquaker.org/profiles/blog/list?user=1zw2th7nj9p89.
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