367 Back to our Roots the Oxford Group

 

WHAT IS THE OXFORD GROUP

The aims of the Oxford Group are to bring into the world the realization of the power of the Holy Spirit as a force for spiritual and material stability and betterment of the world; to awaken in us as individuals the knowledge that we are dissipating our spiritual inheritance and that sin is the frustration of God's Plan for us all. It sets out to make the world understand that spiritual common sense is of more practical value and use to mankind than selfish piety or blind paganism.

The working beliefs of the Group are not misty ideals; they are practical standards within the scope of any one who will give his or her life, powerful, insignificant, interesting, or prosaic as it may be, in the world, into God's absolute keeping. There is no reason why this giving of our lives to God should mean our being pious or religious bores. Neither should it mean that we have to give up our ordinary obligations or duties. It means we surrender to God everything that stands between Him and us.

The Oxford Group has four points which are the keys to the kind of spiritual life God wishes us to lead. These points are:

1.Absolute Honesty

2.Absolute Purity

3.Absolute Unselfishness

4.Absolute Love

The average unchanged person on seeing these points or hearing of them asks: "But how can I - or any one - be absolutely honest or pure or unselfish or loving in a world like this?" He [God] knows the difficulties of circumstances, and the influence of environment that confront the real Christian at every step, and because He can gauge the sincerity of our vision He does not too harshly condemn our stumbles. We have not the knowledge which would enable us to judge if any man or woman has been able to live a life absolutely as Christ would have him or her live it; but the Oxford Group do know that placing these necessary four points for a Christian life as absolute ones is placing Christ as the absolute example to which, by the help of God, we can aspire.

The Oxford Group four points are the basis of beauty, of thought, word, and deed. They may not be so unattainable as we may suppose, but very few can or have ever lived lives of Absolute Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness, and Love. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God", St. Paul tells us. It is doubtful if even a mystic, giving up his life to pious contemplation, lives a life founded on these four points in their fullness.

To be spiritually reborn, and to live in the state in which these four points are the guides to our life in God, the Oxford Group advocate four practical spiritual activities:

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1.The Sharing of our sins and temptations with another Christian life given to God, and to use Sharing as Witness to help others, still unchanged, to recognize and acknowledge their sins.

2.Surrender of our life, past, present and future, into God's keeping and direction.

3.Restitution to all whom we have wronged directly or indirectly.

4.Listening to, accepting, relying on God's Guidance and carrying it out in everything we do or say, great or small.

These spiritual activities have proved indispensable to countless numbers who are living Changed lives. They are not new ideas nor inventions of the Oxford Group. They are the simple tenets of simple Christianity.

The Twenty-Eight Oxford Group Ideas - In the beginning, God

*1. God -- Biblical descriptions of Him as Creator, Maker, Father, Spirit, Love Living God.

*2. God has a plan -- His will for man -- and provides definite, accurate information for the individual who wants the plan fulfilled.

*3. Man's chief end -- To do God's Will, thereby receiving the blessings God promises to those who align their lives with His Will.

*4. Belief -- We must start with the belief that God IS.

Sin -- Estrangement from God -- The Barrier of Self.

*5. Sin is a reality -- The Selfishness that blocks man from God and from others.

Finding or Rediscovering God.

*6. Surrender -- The turning point which makes it possible for man to have a relationship with God by surrendering his will, ego, and sins to God.

*7. Soul-Surgery -- The "art" or way which enables man through the steps of Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, and Conservation (the five C's) to have the sin or spiritual disease cured.

*8. Life-Change -- The result in which man, through a spiritual experience, becomes God-Centered instead of self-centered and focuses on helping others.

The Path They Followed to Establish a Relationship with God.

*9. Decision -- the action by which man verbalizes his surrender and gives in to God, saying, essentially, "Thy Will be Done".

*10. Self-examination -- A "moral" inventory in which man takes stock of his sins and their consequences.

*11. Confession -- Sharing with God and another person the inventory results.

*12. Conviction -- Readiness to change resulting from man's conviction that he has sinned and that Christ miraculously can cure.

*13. Conversion -- The New Birth, Change, namely, that which occurs when man gives himself to God, is regenerated, has part of God's nature imparted to him, and finds the barrier of sin gone.

*14. Restitution -- Righting the wrongs and enabling man to cut the cord of sin that binds him to the past.

Jesus Christ

*15. The source of power as the Divine Redeemer and Way-Shower by whose transforming power man can be changed.

Spiritual Growth -- Continuance.

*16. Conservation -- Continuance as an idea, by which man maintains and grows in his life of grace.

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*17. Daily Surrender -- A process in which man engages in daily self-examination and surrender to get rid of newly accumulated sin and selfishness.

*18. Guidance -- The walk by faith in which the Holy Spirit give Divine Guidance to a life that is changed from sin to God.

*19. The Four Absolutes -- Christ's standards, the standards of absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love, by which man's life can be tested for harmony with God's will.

*20. Quite Time -- A period in which man can receive Divine Guidance and be sensitive to the sway of the Spirit.

*21. Bible study -- Meditation which enables man daily to feed his soul on God's revelation of His Universal Will in the written Word.

*22. Prayer -- Talking to God.

*23. Listening to God for Leading Thoughts and Writing Down Guidance Received -- The means of receiving of God's Particular or Private Will for a man.

*24. Checking -- Testing thoughts to be sure they represent God's Guidance and not just self-deception.

The Spiritual Experience or Awakening.

*25. The Knowledge of God's will -- Attaining, with the Guidance of the Holy Spirit, a knowledge of God's Universal Will as revealed in the Bible, and receiving knowledge of His particular Will through obedience to His Universal Will.

*26. God-Consciousness -- The total change resulting from the experience of God when His Will is known, lived, and witnessed.

Fellowship with God and Believers, and Witness by Life and Word.

*27. Fellowship -- The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit in which believers maintain fellowship with God and mutually sacrifice to win others to the fellowship of the love of God revealed by Jesus Christ.

*28. Witness by Life and Word -- Sharing with others by personal evangelism the fruits of the life changed and the proof of God's forgiveness and Power.

The Principles of The Group (An Oxford Group Pamphlet )

The Principles of "The Oxford Group" are the principles of the Bible. The Oxford Group is not an organization, not a sect, not even a new method. The Group is a life -- that life which is hid with Christ in God....The principles of the "Group" are as old as the experiences recorded in the Bible, and should be to-day, as they were in the early Church, the normal and constant practice of Christians. (From Sherwood Day's Seven Bible Principles)

*1. God-Guidance. He said: "By guidance is meant communion -- communion with our Father, the Living God. Listening to God, two-way prayer, thinking God's thoughts after Him, are all phrases often used of the experience.

*2. Fearless Dealing with sin. He said: "While the first great fact of history is Jesus Christ, the second is the presence of sin." He defined sin as "Anything that separates from God or from another person." He continued: "The Bible frankly faces the fact of sin and offers a cure.... Christ gave men courage honestly and fearlessly to face their sins, and then showed them the way out" [emphasis ours]

*3. Sharing. He said: "A sharing Christian is a propagating Christian," a sentence often used by Shoemaker. Day Explained: "Sharing, as the word is used by the Group, covers two distinct things, further described as confession and witness." He said the facts about sharing were, in the

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words of James 5:16, that one must "Confess your faults one to another." The other aspect of must "Confess your faults one to another." The other aspect of sharing is its necessity in helping others because it immediately establishes confidence. He said: "This we never do by preaching but by sharing our own experiences."

*4. The Necessity For Adequate Intelligent Expressional Activity. He said: "There is no vital sustained experience of Jesus Christ where there is not expressional activity: " He said: The answer is a God-guided, released life with constant outgo into the lives of needy people. We really come to know God as we share Him with others."

*5. Stewardship. He said: "A surrendered life means a life in which every possession of whatever kind is held in trust to be administered under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

*6. Team-Work. He said: "Jesus Christ believed in teamwork. He gathered a small group about Him and set the example for all His followers in this respect.... Individuals were members of a living body whose Head was Jesus Christ.... Truth is presented more adequately through a group than through an individual."

*7. Loyalty. He said: "The person or group of persons embodying for us the highest challenge we know, the person or persons that have been used to reveal Jesus Christ to us, are persons and groups which demand our loyalty.

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