Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
In accepting the full divinity of Christ, Quakers believe also there is ‘something of God’ in each and every human being. But we are reluctant to extend thoroughgoing special divinity to other human beings (Mary, the saints), even as we recognize that some human beings have a stronger ability to hear or to know the Light within.
I suggest that this dichotomy is false. One can be a Christian in a substantial sense, while being at home within contemporary liberal Quakerism.
I'm feeling led to share my story somewhere on this site, but not sure where or how. But rather than do that here I would like to hear from others what they see as the essential difference it makes in our lives to follow the Light of CHRIST versus the Light.
The truth is, my faith was weak. Rather than being based in a profound trust of my Creator, my faith was built on the shaky foundation of psychological and emotional states. When I felt connected, when the movement of the Holy Spirit was readily apparent to me, it was easy to believe. But things felt very different when the euphoria faded.
I remained disconcerted by the generally Quakerly discomfort with Jesus to whom I took to referring as "the odd man at the Quaker dinner party." I came to Quakerism fairly unmolested spiritually. Unlike many people who cross the Meetinghouse threshold, I was not a member of the walking wounded who had been chewed up and spat out by their previous faith communities.
I want to love Jesus, God the Son Incarnate, the written word, abstain from sin, appreciate the blood in its context, value right practice which produces living doctrine, honour both man and woman as vessels of God’s ministry on the earth, and let the future take care of itself as I live faithfully in the present.
I have vacillated my entire life between my call to gospel ministry and gay pop culture. And then, this weekend, I was hit by the holy spirit in meeting... I need the hedge. There are places that I can't and won't go if I am plain. There are activities that I can't and won't do if I am plain. And there are people in my world who can't and won't accept me because I am plain. Friends, that is a good thing.
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)?
The history of the Quaker church embodies Christian values more than the history of many churches whose theology I would recognize as more orthodox, and I honestly wish that my church was more like theirs.
I have heard this talk before of Christianity moving to a post-modern paradigm, a Christianity that lies beyond liberal v. conservative divisions. But this explanation of a new approach has got me thinking - maybe the 'Generous Orthodoxy' envisioned by Brian McLaren is a possibility? Maybe, in places, the next generation of Christians are actually putting this into practice?
As a Quaker I see the application of the prayer of inward silence in the Quaker tradition, and why it marks the Quaker tradition as distinct. Just as Catholics would predict, the Quaker tradition has minimized, or done away with, outward, or ceremonial, sacraments... From the perspective of Protestant theology, the Quaker tradition’s offerings are meager.
At first glance, they might appear to be motherhood and apple pie, but they are worth the attention, both of other denominations and of the wider society, for the challenges and transformative potential they offer to our personal and communal lives.
Something new is emerging at Capitol Hill Friends. It does not fit neatly into the old binaries of 20th century Quakerism. Rather than getting bogged down in fights between Liberals and Evangelicals, we are simply trying to follow Jesus. This feels risky, because he leads us to unfamiliar places. But there is freedom here, too.