I just went back and read the blog post and comments, all the good discussions start when your on vacation.
First, let me say that I attended the Crossroads meeting until six months ago when I moved. I was eight miles from it and now I'm nine from the Birmingham meeting (fgc) where I've been going since.
I hope we can narrow this discussion down to how this issue plays out in various aspects of Friends meetings and lives. I know I crave both the openness (both in regard to universalism and sexuality) of my current meeting, and the Christ centered nature of the old one. I am bothered by both the Christian alergy (to borrow someone elses term) and overly pc comments on one hand, and the homophobic and Christian exclusiveness on the other that I've heard from a minority of Friends at after one meeting or another -never during worship in either case.
I guess I long for a nineteenth century Christian universalism expressed in a twenty-first century postmodern Friend-ly mode.
Javaughn I hope all is well with you and Chris............................
Friends, I just post the message below on Johan Maurer quaker quaker blog.
As I have shared before online I do not consider myself a Christian Quaker because I think the term redundant. After much spiritual discernment and back and forth. I am simply a Quaker! Christianity is our religious heritage and I am not willing to relinquish it to those who would use it as a bludgeon. I do not know of any branch of Quakerism that has publicly cut its ties from our roots. Who can honesty say that Jesus has left the Meetinghouse or Meeting room? Yes, some of us are very close to our Christian heritage-tradition and others for whatever reason are not. In the spirit of Jesus we say as a faith community, there's room at God's table for all. Whether one understands this as divine love, fellowship, affection, or the Spirit of Christ, it is still love. We are, however, bound loosely,gives us freedom to develop as individuals and to change shape as we grow in grace, service,and wisdom. If we were bound tightly, as in many fundamentalist groups, our corporate shape would be fixed, and we would lack the freedom to grow into the persons we were created to be.
Even though no branch of Quakerism has publicly and decisively cut its ties from Quakerism's Christian roots, there are many influential unprogrammed Quakers who believe that Quakerism has outgrown those Christian roots.
There are many non-Christian unprogrammed Quakers who resent and opppose the introduction of Christian and biblical language into Quaker worship and discourse -- unless this is done in a wholly universalist manner. I believe some of these individuals would prefer to see Christian devotional language and Biblical scripture dropped from Quaker worship, discourse and spirituality.
I encounter alot of conflicted reactions to Christian spirituality from unprogrammed Quakers. I also encounter alot of stereotyping condescenscion. Our Meeting expunges any direct reference to Christ, the Bible, or even God from its public documents and statements. The same thing occurs in the witnessing which many Meeting members offer. One individual published an article in the "Western Quaker" last year titled "Is it Time to Lay Down God?". Given these and other realities, I believe there is a major controversy simmering below the surface in unprogrammed Quakerism about whether Quakerism is or is not Christian.
"I guess I long for a nineteenth century Christian universalism expressed in a twenty-first century postmodern Friend-ly mode." - jeff
I hear you, jeff!
I am coming to find that what I long for, in God's Grace, will dwell in me, as I put myself into the place where God can act on me.
It has been an important lesson for me that the Holy Spirit is not one of lack but of sufficiency. God loves us and blesses our hunger and thirst for the Truth - and when we find our way to the Spring we are fed from the Living Water we are not thirsty again, but instead learn to return to and stay with that True Source. God's grace is sufficient, rejoice! God's love gathers and directs us ... God is getting the job done, I don't know about you but I am jogging to keep up, metaphorically speaking.
Here, I do not disagree that it may be a "simmering" controversy. Our meeting had a Quakerism 101 and made the point of reminding everyone that Quakerism was indeed a historically and even currently Christian. We felt that was important because many of us programmed may feel more comfortable with Universalist language. Allthough we don't use a lot of direct references to Christ, we do when we feel the need to, reference the Bible.
I don't think folks dislike Christ as much as may find their inner light is restored by other traditions or understanding about a higher power. And yes, there are those that don't believe in a higher power. However, I just don't know or have heard of an ENTIRE MEETING that would say ok, today we will be known as non-Christians. Again, maybe that's naive.
I do understand that their are folks who cringe when they here about God, or Christ or the Bible and I think that comes from 2 things.
1) Really bad experiences in Christian traditions
2) Understanding meeting for worship as a political social gathering.
I dunno, just some thoughts.
The article was printed a couple of years ago. The magazine changed its name last year to "Western Friend" (www.westernfriend.org). Before that it was called "Friends Bulletin". Anthony Manoussos was editor for many years. It's published out of L.A., to serves Friends of every denomination or persuasion, in the western and mountain states. I know the author of the "lay down God" piece fairly well. I think he was trying to draw this controversy out into open discussion by using a provocative title. The Friends Bulletin issue it was in also included a symposium of responses to the piece by other Quakers. I don't know if there's an online Quaker Bulletin archive.
Hi Jim! I didn't realize that was you asking. I'm going camping this week, so I won't be by for puerh tea for a bit. I scrounged through all my back issues of W-Friend (which by the way actually changed its name in 2007 or 2008) and F's Bulletin. I can't find the article. And I meant to save it. I can't find your eMail address in my address book either. Everything is working against us right now. Send me your eMail address once again, please.
As a Quaker I believe Christ is sovereign no matter what worldview we have, whether we are faithful or not, whether we acknowledge there is anything beyond human experience or not, and whether we work for or against justice. We are Quakers, I believe, when we live and love in the power of that sovereignty. Christ need not be believed in to be joined. Perhaps Christ believes in us far more than many of us believe in him.
I think I would want a definition of 'Liberal Christian' but an increasing disenchantment with the established Christian church has led me into Quakerism. I do believe that the Quakers exhibit Christanity as it should be and would have been had Rome not got hold of it. There is a closer following of the teachings of Jesus and a lot of what else we find in the New Testament without some of the wilder speculations of modern theologians. I like to think that Jesus said what he said but He said it to the people of His time. Sometimes it speaks directly to us and sometimes we have to go back and view it from that perspective but the themes of love, acceptance and forgiveness flow through it. I do know some Quaker non-Christians who have more of the divine spark than I see in many Christians. I would hate to see Quakerism lose it's Christian roots. However I also love the spiritual cosmopolitanism and the creative dialogue that produces. I want to remain a Christian within Quakerism but I want that to be enriched by contact with other paths and I get the feeling that Jesus would agree on that.
Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? Our costs run to about $50/month. If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.