Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I posted this in the "Christian Quakers" Facebook group, but wonder what the broader perspective of Friends is on this question. It’s a question about what our Witness should be in the 21st century. This is not an infrequent question, I realize, which is a good thing; to badly paraphrase the philosopher, the unexamined religious life is hardly worth the effort. And I also realize that the RsoF often loves to talk about the Quaker message that Christ has come to teach His people Himself, and that there is "that of God in everyone." And important as these messages were in their time (and still are), and as much as they continue to speak to the condition of many, there is an urgency in our time and I wonder if the Religious Society of Friends may have a particular role in speaking to that urgency. We live in an era when large scale State violence, though still very present, appears to be on wane while interpersonal, communal, and social violence, from the surveillance state to online bullying, is finding new venues in the technological age. A new "democratization of violence" is happening, as culture wars begin to look more and more like real wars. What might the Sprit require of us?
What do Friends think? Should Quakers seek to promote, to use the phrase of Adam Erickson of the Raven Foundation, "a hermeneutics of non-violence," in keeping with our Peace Testimony and historic witness, as our collective role and presence and purpose in the church of Christ in the world today? Should this include a willingness on the part of each one of us to examine and speak out against ALL forms of violence, in ourselves, in others, in our S/society, in our country, and in our world, whether inter-personal violence or cultural violence, whether in the form of militarism, or racism, or sexism, or classism, or economic exploitation, or religious prejudice, or any other form, whether historical by our ancestors or in ourselves today, whether blatant, or latent, or actively denied? Should this include a declaration and commitment to repent of our violence, to learn from it and turn from it, to listen and respect those who are victims of it, to be willing to follow the voice and the lead of those victims, to collectively and loudly speak out against any and all forms of violence? Should this include a rejection of the idea that just because we may think we are "peaceable people" or call ourselves descendants of peacemakers, or believe "we are not personally responsible for the past", we are NOT therefore inculpable of violence? Should we take these words of Jesus,
"For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with shedding the blood of the prophets,’ thus you have witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets"(Matt 23: 29b-31),
as applying to us today as surely and as much as to the religious elites of his day?