Snippets on vocal ministry

January 15, 2016 § 2 Comments

As I said at the beginning of this thread on vocal ministry, I have been much stimulated by reading Michael P. Graves’s Preaching the Inward Light: Early Quaker Rhetoric. Here are some snippets from my notes.

A biblical source for the belief in divine revelation through vocal ministry

1 Peter 4:10–11:  Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Summary of Fox on vocal ministry by Graves (p 109):

“His characteristic positions regarding preaching included:

  1. rejecting formal theological education for clergy, and generally distrusting “learning” as a necessary part of a call to ministry or as preparation for preaching;
  2. questioning church traditions, especially as witnessed in rejection of the common Christian vocabulary of the time, which used terms like “church”, “temple”, and “gospel” in what Fox saw as unbiblical ways, and the rejection of church hierarchy, rituals, etc.;
  3. emphasizing the role of the Spirit in audience analysis;
  4. defending women’s right to speak and prophesy;
  5. rejecting the accepted notion of a ministry paid by tithes, or the “hireling” ministry;
  6. expressing utter dependence on a sense of the immediate revelation before preaching or praying aloud;
  7. presenting a cautionary approach to preaching as evidenced by a willingness to wait, sometimes for what on occasion appears to be an excessive period of time, until the Spirit gives utterance;
  8. insisting that ministers live holy lives;
  9. instructing hearers to be tender with novice impromptu preachers; and
  10. relying on a biblical hermeneutic that emphasizes types and figures drawn from scripture applied to the lives of the hearers.”

Barclay on the “supernatural” mechanism of spirit-led ministry working on the hearer:

The human has divinely implanted within us supernatural ideas that we perceive with inward supernatural senses, just as there are implanted within us natural ideas that we perceive with inward natural senses. We see the color “red” inwardly because our outward senses stimulate the inward idea of red within us and we perceive red therefore with our inward natural senses.

So also, “As there are natural ideas concerning the things of the natural world [light, color, voice, sounds, etc.] . . . there are ideas of supernatural things. . . . And as the natural ideas are stirred up in us by outward and natural bodies; so those divine and supernatural ideas are stirred up in us by a certain principle, which is a body in naturals in relation to the spiritual world, and therefore may be called a divine body: not as if it were a part of God [not a divine spark], who is a most pure spirit; but the organ or instrument of God, by which he worketh in us [Fox’s “that of God” in us] and stirreth up in us these ideas of divine things. This is the flesh and blood of Christ.” (Graves,  p 118, quoting Barclay, Immediate Revelation)

So “on the receiving end of immediate divine revelation there must be receptors in the “mind” created specifically to respond to the supernatural ideas generated by the Inward Light.”

This is the purpose of vocal ministry, to stir up these divine ideas with the word of God acting upon the Light within us.

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§ 2 Responses to Snippets on vocal ministry

  • bxlloyd says:

    Thanks for these reference Steven. Very useful.

  • treegestalt says:

    The 17th Century distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ misled them. Spiritual/mental/emotional/physical is a more useful way of categorizing things, but since everything is a manifestation of Spirit, nothing whatsoever can be entirely ‘natural’ in its potential action, while ‘supernatural’ simply refers to things which don’t fit into the scientistic worldview — and thus includes everything.

    It is natural for human beings to be embodiments of God. Some people (Jesus for example) show fewer impediments to their working as instruments of divine intention… and those impediments were what people called ‘natural’.
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    As far as ministry — Shouldn’t it be a matter, not of words ‘dictated by God’ (although sometimes one’s choice of words seems to be guided that way) — but of whether these are words God intends us to speak?

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