This time, Mackenzie has Hye Sung from the Friendly Fire Collective on the show as a guest, to talk about charismatic gifts. And it’s a long one, because we are going to talk about all the charismatic gifts we can think of!
Years ago, Mackenzie told someone that Quakers speak from the Spirit. The question that came back was “in English or in tongues?” Mackenzie hadn’t yet read Micah’s blog post on Quakers speaking in tongues, so she assured the person the answer was English (or other local language). Then she met Hye Sung, who is very open about being a charismatic Quaker.
A few months ago, someone on Reddit got really upset at the idea that Quakers could be charismatic. Hye Sung finds that Quakers are deeply suspicious of charismatic gifts. It’s not just the universalist Liberal Quaker sorts who find charismatic gifts weird. The Evangelical Christian ones do too. In fact, the Vineyard Church movement only exists because Quakers in California kicked out a bunch of folks who were experiencing charismatic gifts. Joke’s on them, because it turns out Quakers have a long history with charismatic gifts. We just don’t often acknowledge that’s what’s going on.
Quakerism is charismatic
Charismatic means it’s full of the Spirit. That’s definitely our claim too. To very reserved Quakers, saying this makes us charismatic might sound funny. Or it might sound like trying to bolt something new on. Funny enough, George Fox is held up as a charismatic figure by some modern day Pentecostals! In the 1650s, there was a man named John Gilpin who joined the Quakers for a while. Later, he left and denounced Quakerism. His account of the things he did and saw while he was a Quaker sounds like some of the things you see in Pentecostal churches. Of course, he afterward attributed them to the Devil, not to the Spirit.
Charismatic is also contrasted with cessationist—the idea that God ceased to speak after the Bible was compiled. So, right off the bat, the fact that we believe we get messages from the Spirit during worship has already put us in that category. Vocal ministry is charismatic! Also, some of us really do quake! Being moved by the Spirit is a very traditionally charismatic thing.
Tongues – Glossolalia
“If I speak in the tongues or men or of angels, but I have not love…”
Glossolalia is the name for that speaking in the tongues of angels. We talk about speaking in tongues as a way to get centered. Some people call it their prayer language. We talk about praying in tongues when the feeling is too big for words. How many times and ways can you give thanks? How many times and ways can you call for help?
Tongues – Xenoglossy
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
— Acts 2:1–11 (NIV)
Xenoglossy is about foreign languages. The Book of Acts is somewhat unclear about how the miracle on Pentecost happened. Were they each speaking a different foreign language? Or were they speaking their own language but being heard in many?
We know a Friend who experienced xenoglossy, while on a missions trip. He was ministering to a widow with no mutual language. When the translator arrived, he was very confused to find our friend speaking English and being understood by this woman. She was speaking her own language, and he was understanding. She insisted he spoke her language perfectly. He insisted she spoke English perfectly. The translator tested them then insisted this was just too freaky. (And then the Baptists kicked him out because it was too freaky, so now he’s a Quaker.)
Word of Knowledge
To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
— 1 Cor 12:8 (NIV)
Word of knowledge is the name for knowing things you have no reason to know. Stories abound of Quaker traveling ministers speaking perfectly to the condition of those they visit, without being told what’s going on beforehand. When Samuel Bownas was young, traveling minister Anne Wilson visited his meeting. She pointed at him and said, “A traditional Quaker, thou comest to meeting as thou went from it [the last time] and goes from it as thou came to it, but art no better for thy coming; what wilt thou do in the end?” He heard the truth in her words, changed, and became a great minister. His advice for ministers is still passed along among Quakers.
And funny enough, just a few days before this episode aired, Quaker Rhiannon Grant in the UK asked a question on Facebook. She wanted to know about Quakers not saying “thanks” for things. In the comments, one woman said she gives messages that are very different than usual. They aren’t general. They’re specific. She often doesn’t remember them and never knows who they’re for. She gave the example of saying “they’re both alright; don’t worry.” Afterward, someone who’d come to meeting upset told her she’d received the message. Her family members had just been in an accident, and she’d had no update as to their condition. Well, now she had it.
That’s a word of knowledge.
This is possibly the hardest of the charismatic gifts to get your head around. Mackenzie thought Quakers weren’t into this. However, George Fox had a book of miracles. He supposedly raised the dead. Someone came out of a coma after James Nayler touched them. So, early Quakers were totally into it.
Apparently some modern Quakers do still believe in it. Mackenzie heard a Friend talk about his cancer going into remission after Friends from Ohio Yearly Meeting laid hands on him and prayed. That was his testimony.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
—John 1:12 (NIV)
Sometimes Liberal Friends talk about Jesus as being a human who was really full of the Light. One Liberal Friend heard that testimony and said she believed it. Her reasoning was that we could all, if we’re minding the Light, become as full of the Light as Jesus was. Then, we’d be able to do miracles just like he did.
We talk about feelings of joy and bliss. Sometimes that’s called being drunk on the Spirit. Or Hye Sung will say he’s drunk on the Spirit’s wine. We mentioned before shaking when you have a message or just shaking in general. Hey, we’re called Quakers. Hye Sung says it’s a manifestation when Mackenzie is overwhelmed in prayer and bows or prostrates. A lot of what John Gilpin described in 1653 would be called manifestations
There’s some disagreement about whether visions are one of the charismatic gifts. Even cessationists tend to believe visions are real.
The medieval mystic Teresa of Avila* wrote about the three types of visions and locutions (locutions = things you hear). Corporal visions appear to really be there, and they can’t be seen once you close your eyes. They’re sometimes imitated or faked by things like schizophrenia, though, so they’re regarded as lower order. Then there’s the imaginative vision, which you see in your mind’s eye. You continue seeing it with your eyes closed. That’s a higher level vision. Finally, there’s the intellectual vision, which is a feeling of presence without an actual visual component.
Hye Sung knows Mackenzie has visions, and he’s a pesky little brother. So, she shared about one of hers. She had it right before Mike Huber gave a message asking “what about your work?” at West Hills Friends Church on Oct 1, 2017.
* who did not actually write that “Christ has no body” poem. That was a Methodist-Quaker team-up.
- How the Vineyard Church began
- Stuart Masters on “‘Q’ is for Quaking: Charismatic and Pentecostal Aspects of the Quaker Way”
- QuakerSpeak video “Do Quakers Quake?”
- QuakerSpeak video “Listening in Tongues”
- John Gilpin “The Quakers Shaken: or A Fire-brand snach’d out of the Fire“