Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Prophetic Ministry

In this essay Howard Brinton presents his Dudleian Lecture which was delivered at Harvard University on April 26, 1949. He explains at the beginning that "the term prophetic indicates in a single word the basic theory of Quaker ministry. He who appears in the ministry in a Quaker meeting is, at least theoretically a prophet, in the sense that he or she is an instrument through which God speaks to the congregation."

As the consummate historian Brinton reviews the major periods of Quakerism with particular attention to vocal ministry and prophesy in meetings. "The most satisfactory ministry in the Quaker meeting of today arises out of a flash of insight, felt in the silence and delivered with brevity and a deep sense of concern."

There is no formula for discerning how or when a prophetic message arises.
Out of the depths of the worshiper’s soul arise thoughts, feelings, intuitions of widely varying value. If the will has been properly directed, some of these insights from beyond the margin of self-consciousness may be recognized as of divine origin. There is no absolute test, but if revelations come with power and create a unity not only with others within the congregation but also with the living Christ, the worshiper may truly feel that he has received strength and guidance from the supreme source.

He separates out the three major approaches to ministry in Christianity as illustrated in the Catholic, the Protestant, and the Quaker traditions: the altar centered, the sermon centered, and the prophetic. Read how Howard Brinton views the past patterns of ministry in Quaker meetings and especially how he views prophesy and the prophetic call in more modern Quaker times.

View the complete Pendle Hill Pamphlet #54: Prophetic Ministry

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