F. E. Raven
J.T. ... Do you think it would be well to accept the condition of things at the present time? The tendency is to set up something pretentious.
J.T. And to call that the assembly of God at Rochester or elsewhere.
F.E.R. Something of that kind.
J.T. What one notices is that that seems to drown individual faith in the Lord and resting on Him.
F.E.R. I have said many times if I were challenged as to my connection with any body of Christians on earth, I would say that I have no connection with any body special and I would mean it.
R.S.S. You do not mean any person?
F.E.R. Any person if you like.
W.M. You mean that you are connected with all christians.
F.E.R. I have no more connection with one than another; the only difference is we cannot all walk together, but walking does not establish any special connection.
R.S.S. Does not the question of fellowship come in?
F.E.R. Fellowship is universal. In a way I have fellowship with persons in system as with others.
W.L.P. How far would fellowship go with christians in system?
F.E.R. I would seek to walk in the light as God is in the light, and if another man does that I would walk with him.
W.M. You can take a longer walk with some people than with others.
F.E.R. If a man has his elbows out, you cannot walk very close to him.
R.S.S. We speak of 'our fellowship.'
F.E.R. If you mean christian fellowship I do not mind. If you mean a special fellowship, I object very much.
R.S.S. Would you not speak of a person being received into fellowship?
F.E.R. We only admit that that man is fit to walk with christians anywhere.
W.M. When you speak of our fellowship you mean christians anywhere.
F.E.R. Exactly. We have to get out of the idea of a special and select community which is a little pattern church.
W.M. If a person is put away, he is put out of the whole church on earth.
F.E.R. We put a person away because that person is not fit to walk with any christians, not because he does not please us. He is engaged in such a course of conduct that he is not fit to walk with any christians. You want to be very sure that he is not fit for the company of any christians before you decline to walk any more with him.
J.T. We shall have to think about that a good bit.
F.E.R. The more you think of it the better. I have thought of it a good bit myself.
A.H.E. The danger of the other thing is that we become pharisaical.
F.E.R. And are very well content with it. I think we ought to contend earnestly in the present day against what we may call brethrenism.
J.S.A. One great beauty of the writings of John is that it is the moral side, nothing ecclesiastical that is in view.
F.E.R. So, too, when you come to 2 Timothy you do not get a word about anything ecclesiastical—all is moral. You have to be a vessel unto honour. Then again, "Flee also youthful lusts."
J.T. It is a very natural thing to break bread with people.
F.E.R. It is right to walk together if you are agreed. Then we are right in seeking as far as we possibly can to act in the light of the church, but with the sense that we are not the church. We do not assume to be anything, but to act in the light of the church. ...
From Ministry by F. E. Raven, volume 17, pages 40 - 42.
Extract from a Reading on the Gospel of John