I was thinking upon a letter which Marcus Haywood wrote to me in early 1998 defending Douglas Baker's spiritual authenticity.
In it Haywood described himself as "a senior figure around Baker" and wrote that he could vouch for him
"... because I have known fire, in my own home... to know fire is to be feared, to be misunderstood... and not to care!... " etc.
Baker constantly referred to the importance, the centrality even, of this mysterious, mystical spiritual, fire.
He even said that he had never heard any other contemporary, self-proclaimed Gnostic or yogi speak of it.
I had written back to Haywood that -
a) Haywood’s having had this experience did not give Baker the right to do anything he pleased, and that
b) It did not necessarily say too much about Baker's significance as a spiritual teacher/authority either, for many people have had spiritual experiences, including myself, (see Epilogue A) and that some such people had gone to other gurus or perhaps to no guru at all.
The seventeenth century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal also claimed to have known this same spiritual fire, and a written description of it had been found sown into the lining of his clothes after his death.
Yet I conceded that I personally had never had a ‘fire’ experience.
I had been musing, in Haywood's defence, that however monstrous Baker’s sins, if I had gone to a guru who preached of spiritual fire, and then I myself had gone on to have such a Divine experience, I would surely find it very, very difficult indeed to question his authenticity.
At 5:35 p.m. on February 20th 2002, about four years after I had sent my letter, I was moved to look up Internet references to this reported experience of Pascal’s.
I typed into Google
"Blaise Pascal Fire Lining of clothes"
and got back 38 references.
Most of these were rather unlikely groupings of those words, and not about the fire.
But the second one thrown up was headed ‘12092001Haywood’.
It proved to be a recent sermon given (I do not know where) by a preacher whose (first) name was Haywood -
Haywood D. Holderness, jr S-1208 Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:1-12 December 9, 2001
Fire !! We just cannot get to Christmas without... John the Baptist...
"... Repent for... The One who is coming will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with Fire!" ...
Fire -- especially Hellfire -- was a common word among the 18th century North American Puritans... Throughout the Bible, Fire is a sign of the presence of God... where there is fire, there also is God. ...
There is much more in the Bible about Fire as an agent of purification than... as a destructive force. ... the Greek word which we translate as fire is pur.
It’s the word from which we derive English words like "purification" or "purity" or "pyre". ... the first meaning of pur is "an antidote to evil influences"
And so we might say that to be baptized with fire is:
To be in the presence of God To be purified, and To be an antidote to evil influences ... if we are to experience the fire of the Spirit, we must… change so that we are open to the fresh presence of God...
That’s what John the Baptist was about and that's the kind of kingdom that Jesus made flesh in his brief ministry.
When God comes... insistently into our lives we are never the same again. That which is in the way is burned away. That which is hurtful is purified. And our lives will become living antidotes to evil, corruption and despair ...
There is a... story about... an abbot... His... job was to instruct the young monks who came into the monastery. A... monk... was... forlorn...
"Father," ... I have kept the... rules... I strive to cleanse my heart... Yet I still feel empty. What more should I do?
The old abbot... with fingers extended like... torches,... said, "
Why not be totally changed into fire!?"
... Is that really possible?... I think so… Maybe not suddenly, but slowly with a few sparks... then a small fire…then,… who knows!?
When... Blaise Pascal died... his servant found a scrap of paper hidden in the lining of his coat... a testimony of something that had happened 8 years earlier.
Pascal had written it down and kept the paper close to his heart.
Here is what it said:
‘In the year of Grace, 1654, on Monday 23rd of November… From about half past ten in the evening Until about half past twelve:
FIRE! God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob Not of the philosophers and scholars Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace God of Jesus Christ. Fire!’
Whatever happened..., FIRE was all Pascal could say.
For two whole hours, nothing but FIRE - not of the philosophers and scholars, but the fire of God, undeniable and even un-sayable.
This is the word he carried next to his heart for the rest of his life.
Why not be changed? Why not have fire next to our hearts?... Perhaps we would find a taste of that kingdom which Isaiah promised…
What is this unforgettable spiritual fire of which both Haywoods preached?