Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
The expression, “Keep it simple, stupid” does not fit with the Quaker testimony of simplicity. Simplicity is not arrived at by taking the path of least resistance. Nor is simplicity a matter of ignoring what is inconvenient or avoiding a careful analysis of the different aspects that make up a situation. We don’t start from simplicity, simplicity is what we arrive at, or at least get closer to, after going through the process of winnowing out the superfluous from the essential.
Simplicity is not a clothes closet that has never been used, it is a closet that has been determined to be cluttered and then put through the process of separating clothes we no longer need or find appealing from clothes that still serve a useful purpose and that we still find attractive to wear.
Our faith is not made simple by saying (or singing), “Give me that old time religion, it’s good enough for me.” Our faith is made simple by a lifetime of thoughtfully evaluating what is genuine for us on both an intellectual and instinctual level. One does not arrive at a point in a faith journey where he or she can say with certainty, “I have finally arrived.” Faith is a gem that is constantly polished to a greater clarity and simplicity by the application of the mind.
Albert Schweitzer, the German theologian, organist, philosopher, doctor and medical missionary, once said, “From native simplicity we arrive at more profound simplicity.” Profound simplicity is not the simplicity of the infant who knows nothing of the world, it is the simplicity of one who has seen some of the complexity of the world and refined from that complexity what he or she considers to be true, just and lasting. Profound simplicity is the ongoing work of a lifetime.