I'm intrigued by this tag line.   Does "primitive" here mean directly referencing the teachings in the New Testament?  Or something else?

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Hi Spiny Norman. As I understand it, yes. William Penn wrote a book of that name "Primitive Christianity Revi.... The Quaker way as I understand it is following Jesus without all the accretions of church practice. It's about attending to God's Word, the living present spirit of Christ.

With a nod to Friend Alice, "primitive" references "early" Christianity - prior to, but not excluding, the written teachings in the N.T.. The Quaker focus and value placed on experiencing the Christ within(the living present and, sadly, later only recorded, spirit of Christ) revives what early(non-accreted)Christianity was all about. For better and worse, Quakers chose 'The Way" of early Christians rather than "The Church(es)" of Christ.

Thanks for your thoughts.  It's sad that the true spirit of teachings often get lost when religions become institutionalised.

It has been a good reflection of/on the Seeker in each of us, Spiny. But alas, I still hold to the conclusion that Faith is the gift of God and Religion the mess that men(usually) make of it. Peace out.
 
Spiny Norman said:

Thanks for your thoughts.  It's sad that the true spirit of teachings often get lost when religions become institutionalised.

So can faith manifest without a religious structure or ideology, and if so, how?  

Clem Gerdelmann said:

It has been a good reflection of/on the Seeker in each of us, Spiny. But alas, I still hold to the conclusion that Faith is the gift of God and Religion the mess that men(usually) make of it. Peace out.
 
Spiny Norman said:

Thanks for your thoughts.  It's sad that the true spirit of teachings often get lost when religions become institutionalised.



Spiny Norman said:

So can faith manifest without a religious structure or ideology, and if so, how?

 


If you think "faith" means "holding required unreasonable beliefs," then "No."

If "faith" means knowing Who you know, and what you know, without unduly worrying about whether you can "prove" it to someone else determined not to see it... Why not?

Or, if by "faith" we mean Trust in God instead of trusting in our beliefs about God, then yes!

Randy - That speaks my mind. Faith is the EXPERIENCE of God, not trying to believe what others have written of THEIR experiences of God. Though if you are truly experiencing God you will find that your experience will be echoed in their experience as God in One.

Barb

Barbara, I'm not clear on the bit below.  The usual meaning of faith is belief or confidence in something we haven't personally experienced.  But here you seem to be equating faith with ( direct ) personal experience of God.  But if one has that direct experience, what then is the need for faith?  Or are you using the word "faith" in a particular way here?  

I hope you don't mind all the questions, but I'm still relatively new to Quaker ideas.

Barbara Smith said:

Faith is the EXPERIENCE of God

Spiny - I pondered your question today. By all means keep asking questions as it is helpful for you and possibly for others as well. What I mean by faith is a confidence or trust in what you have experienced of God. A trust that will carry you through times when you don't feel God directly. So, just as you may know that your wife (or someone) loves you, because you have experienced that love, at times you may not feel that coming from her. Maybe she is angry or whatever. Then your faith that she still loves you carries you through that time. Similarly, you may experience God in a very powerful way, but at other times you may not feel His Presence at all! Mother Theresa apparently said she went for years feeling God was distant from her. But her faith in her past experience of God's love carried her through.

There is a difference between "belief" and "faith" in my mind. Belief means to me a process of your thinking mind, whereas faith is a process of experience and trust, more in the heart than in the mind. Beliefs are things we have by definition NOT experienced - like I believe the moon is x miles away, though I can't experience that. The Church evolved to the point where it seemed, since they had forgotten that people CAN and DO experience God all the time, that it was necessary for the people to just take their word for it and accept a set of beliefs determined and codified by the Church, and called "statements of faith" though they are really statements of beliefs. This was a horrible travesty in my opinion and has misled untold generations of people into thinking that God, and Christ, are almost fairytale characters who cannot be experienced directly!

George Fox's epiphany was that God teaches each of us directly and that we don't need to take anyone else's word for who God is or what He is like etc. A Friend I met last year told me of his very dramatic experience of God's Spirit that happened to him 30 years ago. At the time he was an agnostic. At the time the Inner Voice told him to not believe anything he did not directly experience! It was not until years later when he found Friends that he discovered that this is a Quaker principle, and in fact is at the heart of Quakerism. Fox's beef with the Church of the day was that they forced people to "believe" or say they believed, things they knew nothing of, and that even the preachers, or priests as he called them, had nothing to say from their own experience. In fact they had no experience of God to speak of at all!

The sad thing is that all the emphasis on beliefs leads us to discount our many unrecognized experiences of God as unreal and unimportant, and as NOT God! This is the travesty! God is contacting us all the time. He is the one who causes us to feel bad when we have done wrong. He is the one who leads us to do right by nudges or suggestions. He is the one who gives us peace and courage in the face of tragedy or difficult circumstances. We have been experiencing God all our lives and not knowing it because it never matched up with our learned ideas of who God is etc.

I hope this clarifies rather than muddying the situation. It is a bit hard to explain, partly because I feel so strongly about it. It was an earth shattering experience for me to suddenly realize that God is so real and accessible, and that all these folks have been duped into thinking God is "out there somewhere" and not the terribly real, nearly physical, Presence I now experience!

Blessings on your journey.

Barb

Thanks, Barbara, I found the section below particularly helpful in understanding the Quaker approach.

Barbara Smith said:

George Fox's epiphany was that God teaches each of us directly and that we don't need to take anyone else's word for who God is or what He is like etc. A Friend I met last year told me of his very dramatic experience of God's Spirit that happened to him 30 years ago. At the time he was an agnostic. At the time the Inner Voice told him to not believe anything he did not directly experience! It was not until years later when he found Friends that he discovered that this is a Quaker principle, and in fact is at the heart of Quakerism. Fox's beef with the Church of the day was that they forced people to "believe" or say they believed, things they knew nothing of, and that even the preachers, or priests as he called them, had nothing to say from their own experience. In fact they had no experience of God to speak of at all!

Thank thee, Barbara.  Well said.  I would add however that there is a role for the "disciplines", such as scripture, tradition, group discernment, and, in effect, "beliefs", to help us to interpret and understand what our experiences of God mean in our lives.  Lest our friend Spiny (of Monty Python fame, I take it!) misunderstands that although generally speaking for most Friends experience in primary, we should not neglect the very many other ways the Spirit speaks to us and teaches us.

 

Peace and Hope.

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