I think this is where the discussion continues. 

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Greetings from Central Kentucky!

One thing that distinguishes progressive from traditional Christians, Friends or not, is that progressives take seriously that Christianity has proven to be an obstacle to people who want to take seriously what Jesus took seriously. Doctrines, creeds, sacraments, and liturgies have kept people from experiential knowledge of the spirit of Jesus which is the incandescence of the light within.

For this very reason I have shied away from Quakers who want to repristinate the Society of Friends -- make it conform to Evangelical Christianity, or envision the spoken ministry as a Pentecostal charism. Likewise I've either avoided -- or attended but kept a low profile at -- unprogrammed liberal meetings where any talk of Jesus is either annoying or anathema. As I won't attend services at a Disciples or UCC church where I'll have to stand for hymns with questionable theology, I usually spend First Days in the garden, sitting in silence with the birds and the possums.

I hope that liberal Friends will lighten up and not shut their ears when Jesus is mentioned. And I hope Christian Friends will seek out the wisdom of Jesus the man and put away the glory of Christ the God just long enough to make the Meeting or church a place where all will be seekers rather than the few who consider themselves finders.

It is a difficult tension that exists in the liberal tradition, and requires that those Eldering are able to have difficult conversations with both sides of very strongly opposing ministries like this.

 Elders should have supported you as the person whose ministry was followed by a very divisive statement through asking her to expand on her experiences that had led her to come to that conclusion.  What she said could have been acceptable as an "I" statement, but as the "we" statement she gave, was not acknowledging that our testimony of diversity has a component of joint responsibility to own our own personal issues we bring to meeting. 

Equally, Elders might well have asked you about why that particular part of the Gospel spoke to your condition, and how you had felt drawn to share it.

My concern about a lot of liberal meetings is that we fail to acknowledge both our early roots, and our later (mid-victorian) roots at our peril. Yes, spoken ministry is a gift, but equally it is something that needs nurturing and tending by experienced Friends to support the development of discernment. This involves discussion, reading, reflection and on the odd occasion challenge, to help reach its full potential. It is easy in this modern world to believe that "love" is something nice and soft and gentle, but to truly love is to also correct and speak in discipline to those who minister in ways that might be hurtful to others.



Enough to wobble a person's faith... but ours, after all, is based on the truth that God is available to help with what we can't do 'without God' (ie while thinking as though it were up to us alone!)

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