I don't know if this discussion might be more fitted for the "Seekers" group, but since the topic is Christianity-centered and this group has a lot more members, I thought I'd get a better response here. Hope that's okay!

 

I am a Christian and a seeker who has long been interested in Quakerism. I'm at an uprooted stage in my life right now, in search of a new faith community; after a lot of prayer and study in recent months, I feel that becoming a Friend may be the path God is leading me to.

 

In reading the stories of convinced Friends on various blogs, I've come across many people who came to Quakerism because (or partially because) of some irreconcilable frustration or discomfort with the more mainstream Christian denominations. While I certainly understand this, it's not the case for me. There are of course things in the Church that I disagree with, but not to the point where I would be unable to find some congregation, somewhere, that I could happily worship with. My interest in Quakerism, I feel, is more from a desire to be challenged and stretched, to discover a different way to worship and apply my Christian faith. 

 

I love the Quaker testimonies and methods, with their simplicity and openness (I haven't had a chance to attend a meeting yet, but plan to this weekend).  However, I also value and enjoy a lot of "traditional" church practices. While I know such practices aren't requirements of belief, and I'd be happy to set them aside in becoming a Quaker, I do love the symbolism and reverence of sharing in Communion, in Ash Wednesday services, in the baptism of new believers, etc...and I personally don't find them an impediment to my faith or worship (it'll be interesting to see if/how my perspective changes after I actually attend a Friends' meeting).

 

Anyway, I'd be curious to hear the stories of any Friends out there who come from a similar background or perspective. Are there individuals here who have come to Quakerism for reasons other than simple dissatisfaction with mainstream Christianity (or other religions, for that matter)?

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Replies to This Discussion



Joe Turner said:

Hi Kirby, interesting question.  I'm not a Quaker and have never been to a Quaker meeting.  I've been in evangelical/episcopalian churches for 30+ years.

For me, I am less attracted to the forms of Quakerism than the insights of George Fox, William Penn and others.  Although unrelated, they seem to me to be on the same page as Kierkegaard and saying something really important about what it means to be a believer in Jesus and/or an awake, paid-up member of the human family.

I guess I've been disaffected with church for a long time, only going because I wanted the fellowship of people I know and love - yet almost totally disengaged with what is being said and done.  And I think reading these people has made me worse (less engaged) rather than more. 

George Fox seems to make a lot of sense to me, though I am not particularly inclined to call the rest of the Christian church the 'whore of Babylon', it does feel like they/we are missing the point.  Baptism/confirmation/ash wedneday/marriage (even)/liturgy are not bad - it seems to me - but sound increasingly discordant to my ears.  If I have been 'baptisted by the Spirit' and have Jesus living within, anything done with water seems irrelevant.  If I have plied my troth in my heart - I have already done it before God, and anything I do in a special religious building or in front of family cannot make it any more real.

But the malaise goes deeper than that even.  What is worship but the voluntary sacrifice of all that one has in service of the unknowable (yet weirdly knowable-in-Jesus) God?  What could I possibly say in prayer that God - who already knows and hears everything - doesn't already know?

 

I'm sorry to have answered the question with the opposite of what you asked, but thanks for the space to get that off my chest.

 

 

Hi Joe,

You asked, "But the malaise goes deeper than that even.  What is worship but the voluntary sacrifice of all that one has in service of the unknowable (yet weirdly knowable-in-Jesus) God?"

 

God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the images I grew up with and that I still identify best with but Truth is what I seek and worship.  Our culture in its attempt to teach spiritual things actually distracts us by its effort to describe and define via language spiritual ideas that can be adequately known by us for today’s use but cannot be adequately defined in words.  To me it doesn’t seem important what tool I or someone else uses to know God, it’s finding out that I and each one of us can invite him/her to be together with you or me and communicate.

 

"What could I possibly say in prayer that God - who already knows and hears everything - doesn't already know?"

 

I’ve asked the same question and the theory I’m working from at present is that ‘I exist, so my intention is important’.  I assume God knows my true intention but the responsibility for it is mine.  God respects my right to choose.  When I choose to align my will with God’s, that intention shifts the direction and way of my walking to where I feel more in rhythm with the Divine intention.  Stuff starts to make more sense.  

To me prayer is mostly about expectant waiting/listening.

Hope I addressed what you were asking.

Stuart Greene

 


 

I don't know "everything about my wife," but I know my wife.

 

And so I know God. What is most essential to me, of course, is that God knows me... and is unlikely to drop me, forget where He put me, anything like that. Whether what I'm doing is fantastic-- or "worthless."

 

Jesus is a certain human being, 'the Holy Spirit' is a term for God at work in human beings-- but the words can certainly refer to somebody's inadequate image of what they mean.

 

If you say God is not "knowable," that seems to ignore some central parts of Jesus' message: that we should seek God, that we are to love God, that Jesus knew God well enough to introduce us.

 

When I was raising a kid... It was important to me that he listen and obey when I told him to get out  of the street. But "listening and obeying" was not the essence of what I wanted from him.

Kirby, you 'took the words right out of my mouth'!  Tho' we differ vastly in age, you actually spoke for me.  I actually looked at myself as agnostic and then atheist for a very short while because I was so conflicted.  Like you, off and on thro' my 'spiritual journey' I've found myself leaning towards the "Friends/Quaker" way of worship and life.  I've recently moved, for the first time in 34 years!  I've found the Friends page for my city and, like you, I haven't attended a meeting yet, but plan to soon.  I hope you keep posting/blogging cuz I'm interested to hear about your first meeting!  I'm alone and a little shy of new things but I plan to change that... I will be letting you/anyone know of my first meeting and my reaction thereto!  Great to be here among like minds.

Hi Sherry, I'm glad you connected to my story! I understand what you shared as well--I also went through a brief agnostic period in my searching. 

 

I attended my first Meeting for Worship yesterday, and it was a great experience. I just put up a blog post about my visit on my page, if you'd like to read it. I'd also tell you, don't be nervous! I was alone when I visited, but I've never felt so welcomed and accepted at a church as I did at the meeting. If you're open to the experience and have a general idea of what to expect, I'm sure you'll find it to be a very comfortable experience. I look forward to hearing about your own first visit when it happens!



Sherry B. Chafin said:

Kirby, you 'took the words right out of my mouth'!  Tho' we differ vastly in age, you actually spoke for me.  I actually looked at myself as agnostic and then atheist for a very short while because I was so conflicted.  Like you, off and on thro' my 'spiritual journey' I've found myself leaning towards the "Friends/Quaker" way of worship and life.  I've recently moved, for the first time in 34 years!  I've found the Friends page for my city and, like you, I haven't attended a meeting yet, but plan to soon.  I hope you keep posting/blogging cuz I'm interested to hear about your first meeting!  I'm alone and a little shy of new things but I plan to change that... I will be letting you/anyone know of my first meeting and my reaction thereto!  Great to be here among like minds.

Thanks for your quick reply Kirby.   I'm so glad you had a positive experience.  You've given me a little push in the right direction and as soon as I attend my first meeting, I will certainly let you know.... where has this been all my life?!

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