Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Some Quakers aren't Pharisees.
Many Quakers aren't nominally Christians except for perhaps having a vague regard for Jesus and those nice things he said.
A few Christians aren't Pharisees.
Those Quakers who are Christian, in the sense of not being Pharisees, are a lot like the few nonQuaker Christians who aren't Pharisees. Statistically, they may be more inclined to look past doctrinal differences to recognize God at work in nonChristians.
Does that cover it?
ha ha ha (to Forrest's comment above)
Aaron, I would think that the best answer for practical purposes would be something that sums up the nature of plain folk of all stripes (including Amish, Menonites too). Maybe Quaker Jane would know how to put this in a nutshell.
I am not addressing the subject of hypocrites which Forrest brought up, but am just considering what is most different at-a-glance between Quakers and other protestants, or Catholics. I think the values and aim for integrity of this Gospel in our practices speaks to the general differences between one of these bodies and the other. However, yes, as F. points out, MANY fall short.
Is a "Pharisee" "a hypocrite"?
In Jesus' day, he used a word against them which we translate as "hypocrite"-- but as I understand it, the word meant something like "actor". That is, somebody "going through the motions"-- and not necessarily insincerely. That is, someone may behave piously and lovingly-- not to take credit for some virtue they lack, but to reinforce a virtue they intend to embody and serve.
In the case of a few, specific Pharisees, it seems to have meant something like 'trying to bust me for whatever rationale you can cook up.'-- his way of putting antagonists on the defensive, where directly denying the charges would only have lent them credibility.
I had in mind the usage of an unnamed Friend in Samuel Bownas' journal-- in a conversation they had about ~"why our Meetings here have gotten so dead lately" [around 1710?] He told Bownas that many Meetings had become overly focused on "cleaning the outside of the cup," without getting sufficiently reformed inside first-- that this "leaven of the Pharisees" was always detrimental to the life of the spirit.
The externals being "objective", visible, measurable-- things we can do or not do, that we can apply techniques to encourage or discourage... Embedded in the spirit of this age, Friends can readily turn to these as boundary-markers, criteria for congratulating or disparaging different Friends or different categories of Friends. As things we can try to change in hopes of renewing ourselves and/or the SoF...
If these are the first things we think about when we consider a question... Do we ___? Do we say ___? Or not say ___?
this suggests that people probably aren't consulting the Spirit in themselves first of all.
Or that we don't expect other Friends to recognize and welcome that approach to life.
The externals that Liberal Friends typically emphasize are different from the externals that overtly Christian Friends typically emphasize. But if externals seem to be the focus, "Pharisee" seems apt. Sincerity is not the issue.
I just tell those who ask me that it's a big tent. Christianity is a terrible word to describe someone. I have no idea what it means except in a negative way - he or she isn't a muslim, isn't jewish, etc. Personally I strive to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and neither a Christian or Quaker. I just find it easier to do within the Quaker framework.
It would very much depend upon which branch of Quakerism one was talking about, and even then one might need to keep one's comments limited to one yearly meeting or even one monthly meeting to maintain strict integrity when talking about the ways in which Quakers differ from "most" Christians. I begin those sorts of conversations, which I engage in quite a bit really, by finding out where the other person's religious "place" is in the spectrum of possibilities, and going from there. I don't personally find it all that much fun to offer up a list of the things "we" don't do.
Hello again Aaron,
I just had a thought about this last night. Simply that I wondered what the word "Christian" means to you.... Surely that should have been my initial comment instead of what I said above. So many people define Christian different ways. For some it's very tied to politics Left or Right, for others it's built on an assumption that faith should have nothing to do with politics, for some the sense of "Christian" includes opposition to certain groups or sets of believes such as inclusion and equality re: homosexuality, and for them anything stating the opposite would feel downright Pagan (old school definition of Pagan). etc, etc. Or maybe your personal definition is about none of those things but does require and assume that the person who is "actually" Christian speaks to others about Jesus Christ....
The answer to your question would seem to be determined by your own exploration of exactly what real Christian or follower of Christ means to you. Then what to say about Quakers becomes much simpler. And yes, I agree with Isabel that then it's important to recognize that Quaker means different things within the Liberal, Conservative and Evangelical branches and if you don't find Quakers to be true-Christian enough, your personal sense of Christian may be found in one of the other branches.
......that God/Christ/the Spirit is a voice in your conscience, and if you listen for it and to it, it will lead you in the right path. Being willing to listen, and be led, is more important than what you call the voice. [I must name the voice as Christ, but people must describe it in the language that comes to them]. Being 'saved' is a continuous process, and you can slip in and out of it, and it's about walking in the right path, not repeating a form of words. When you are not obedient to the promptings of love and truth in your heart, that is sin, but as far as catalogues of sinS are concerned I have no use for them and I don't believe that God has either. Our church service consists mostly of listening, not talking.
Good idea to share these thoughts, Ian!
What does real Christian or follower of Christ mean to me?
I confess I haven't really thought about this before but I believe to me it means listening to Christ in all things and acting accordingly, from the heart (something none of us measure up to).
On the other hand -- Jesus's friends?? They are everywhere. Jesus calls everyone his friends, even people who are not interested in him.
And my personal definition of Quakers?
Perhaps: People who have inherited the community of George Fox and all who are drawn to live in that Light he speaks of. Interested in living with more of the SPICE testimonies than not, so their lives frequently are models of the values of Integrity, Simplicity, Community, etc.