So I found this quote on the michiganquakers.org...We differ from
“liberal” Friends in many ways: many liberal meetings have ceased to
be Christian, and have become at best ecumenical, permitting and
even embracing the beliefs and practices of other, non-Christian and
even pagan faiths... "
and "ouch" was my first reaction.

I do agree with most of it, but the first description "many liberal
meetings have ceased to be Christian..."hurt me a bit. Can someone help
me? What liberal meetings are un-chrisitan. I consider myself a
liberal (convergent) Quaker and although I agree that there are a
variety of beliefs (and non-belief) in our meetings, I believe that
this is possible because we also believe that God/Love can live in the
hearts of every one.

I became a liberal Quaker because 1) it was geographically available.
2)I believe in the Continuing Revelation 3) as a heterosexual I support
the union and lives of the LBGT community.

So, I guess my question is, how does a liberal meeting get labled
"non-Christian?" does ministry and council make a statement or does the
meeting reveal itself to be so.

I hope I am not being niave...any comments would be helpful.

Views: 163

Comment by Paula Roberts on 7th mo. 3, 2010 at 3:55pm
I think it was an over simplistic characterization of liberal meetings and made alot of assumptions. As Karen says, there is a continuum of beliefs in liberal meetings. I am inclined to believe when people write such statements as the one you quoted they feel this need for unanimity (their way). I am not so encumbered am not diminished in my beliefs or lack of beliefs by the beliefs or lack of beliefs of others.
Comment by Isabel Penraeth on 7th mo. 3, 2010 at 5:12pm
I agree with the statement as quoted, that many liberal meetings have ceased to be Christian, so rather than making assumptions about what the author may or may not have meant, and casting aspersions and judgments with very little in the way of facts, perhaps Friends would like to discuss with me the statement and its implications.
Comment by Javaughn Fernanders on 7th mo. 3, 2010 at 11:40pm
As the author of the initial question, which is what it really is, I hope not to have offended anyone with the belief that many liberal meetings have ceased to be Christian. My question is what does that mean and how does that happen?
I am a Christian and have always attended (and am now a member of) what is called a Liberal meeting. I have never been told I was a minority in being Christian or been ostracized or elder ed for it. Thus, I have never assumed a meeting wasn't Christian.

Therefore, to Isabel Penareth I would very much enjoy any discussions about the statement and its implications.
Comment by Javaughn Fernanders on 7th mo. 3, 2010 at 11:54pm
From Javaughn again,
I also think that this issue could have been better handled with a link to a liberal friends page.
@ Isabel, I don't think yet, that aspersions or judgements have been cast yet in this discussion. I actually visit your page REGULARLY and it may have been yours and the light of others which caused me to seek out information on Conservative Friends. So believe me, my question was not an attack, but a sincere result of a hurt feeling about my own religious community. Because if there is a meeting that has somehow minuted or announced that they indeed are non-Christian I want to know and would not be interested in attending.
Comment by Paula Roberts on 7th mo. 4, 2010 at 12:18am
I attend a liberal meeting that runs the spectrum of belief. I would say the majority hold Christian belief. I object to generalized statements based on some small sample observation.
Comment by Isabel Penraeth on 7th mo. 4, 2010 at 12:34am
I did not see the original question as an attack, and even the aspersions and judgments that I still see in the other comments are not attacks, but I don't see them as helpful to the discussion either. It seems to me the fundamental question is how one defines a Christian meeting. My definition of a Christian meeting is one that meets under the headship of Christ. That a liberal meeting might contain Christian members doesn't, for me, make it Christian, and they don't have to minute that they are not Christian for that to nonetheless be functionally true. In Conservative meetings, our unity is in Christ. I don't know of any liberal meetings that would be comfortable saying any such thing, hence it seems clear to me they aren't Christian meetings. It seems to me these meetings have become non-Christian by abandoning Christ for universalism, but I am no expert on the history of these things, or of the life of any liberal meeting but my own.

This link from QuakerInfo discusses the branches, and doesn't mention Christ or Christianity in its section for FGC or liberal meetings, so I don't feel too far out in left field with my way of thinking about this.
Comment by Javaughn Fernanders on 7th mo. 4, 2010 at 12:43am
Ok, I get and understand everything said here by everyone. I would say that we all stick to defining ourselves and I mean that individually, religiously etc...
I used to hate when my mother would tell her friends who I was--I was the one who knew best. Maybe we should practice guiding seekers to places like Quaker Info or even FGC FUM Conservative and Evangelical sites instead of sending up definitions--I don't konw--maybe this too is naive and not practical--but I feel just taking the step to direct someone accurately will help our community as a whole.
Comment by Chronicler on 7th mo. 4, 2010 at 8:04am
Wow - this has been an interesting discussion.

Much of what has been said here depends on one's perspective. I have attended FGC meetings where some people are Christians, and I have attended meetings where it is not acceptable to mention God, Christ Jesus, or any spiritual terminology.

From the Ohio perspective, a meeting is considered to be Christian if those in membership make a concerted effort to be guided by Christ Jesus in their daily lives, in worship, and in times of corporate discernment such as during business meetings. Ministry is expected to be a message provided by God to those present, which means that we generally discourage self-appointed ministry, book reports, discussions of newspaper articles and other media, political or social commentary, and autobiography that does not fall into the category of being a testimony. We meet to hear from the Lord - the other things might be fine but don't belong in the worship of Ohio Friends. We expect to receive guidance from the Light of Christ Jesus for our lives, we discuss what He has been doing in our lives, and we try to walk worthy of our high calling. These were the expectations of all Friends in the mid 19th century, but for the most part these expectations primarily survive in Ohio YM.

Neither the 19th nor the 20th centuries were good times in terms of the development of the beliefs of Friends. Along with several other Quaker phrases, the idea of "continuing revelation" was dramatically changed and re-defined. Robert Barclay and the early Friends argued that God continues to reveal Himself to people (including thee), and this is the way they used the term "continuing revelation." Barclay specifically denied that God was revealing new truth that contradicted the Bible. The new definition of continuing revelation dates to the late 19th century, though it was more fully developed in the mid-20th century. For non-Ohio Friends, the term now means that new truths are being revealed to people, some of which may contract the scriptures and some of which may be based on religious texts of other cultures. This is a different phenomenon from what early Friends described as "continuing revelation."
Comment by Linda J. Wilk on 7th mo. 4, 2010 at 9:12am
I love this discussion, and it brings to mind a few queries. If I endeavor to live my life in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, walking in the path he walked, as he walked it, am I a Christian? If I do such, but do not say that I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, am I still a Christian? If my Meeting has many people who walk such a path, but is open to accepting many who are seekers, who want to find meaning in their lives, and know not how to find it, but are earnestly seeking, and we accept them into our lives and community, promising to help them learn the manner of Friends, and to meet them where they are, are we still Christian? If we do not ask our community to accept any set doctrine or creed, but to walk with us in the path we have walked, for many years, that our families have walked before us, that Jesus taught us, to walk with love, listening to the inner light, answering God in everyone we meet, are we Christian? This is the path of our Liberal Meeting. So often I have heard one Meeting endeavoring to label another lately and tell others whether that meeting is properly Christian or Quakerly or not. Friend, I ask you to come and walk a mile in our shoes. This is the value of intervisitation. I don't think you can tell this on one or a few visits, either. If you are not in familiar territory, make the request of the elders of your local meeting that they introduce you to someone who has the background that is familiar to you, so that you have someone to converse and study with. Almost always I have found that a meeting has degrees of conservative or liberal people amongst its midst. Then you will have a fellow traveler who will make your journey more comfortable and you may not find it so necessary to judge your company for or against.
It has been a wonderful delight to watch so many seekers over the years come and find the Love and Light they seek. Some might call that unChristian, but for me this is a very Christian experience.
Blessings, Linda
Comment by Raye on 7th mo. 4, 2010 at 6:18pm
If Christian means acting along certain guidelines, such as kindness and care for others, then we have many Christian liberal meetings. Christ-centered is another term used. That can mean a number of different things, and in my experience means that members of the meeting agree that Jesus' teachings are worth following.

If having one or more Christians in a meeting means the meeting is Christian, then we have many Christian liberal meetings.

Some Friends highly value inclusiveness and union among Friends (as opposed to division based on theology and belief), so that other considerations in a meeting are secondary.

But some Friends find that worshipping next to someone is not quite the same as worshipping with them. And if the Object of worship is different, then my sense is that we are doing the former. There is a place for that, for many of us. But not all of us choose or prefer to spend our time in worship that way.

There are cases of people who seek to follow Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior in their lives who find a Friends meeting expecting to worship with others who have a similar experience and understanding of Christ Jesus. Many of these end up being corrected about their beliefs. Many simply do not find others who share any common ground of experience with Christ Jesus. Perhaps for them, inclusiveness of all regardless of belief is not the thing they seek most in a meeting for worship. I think that is a legitimate perspective.

I have been corrected about scripture, Christ Jesus and His offices, and a number of things that are part of my spiritual life, at Friends' meeting. My beliefs are not an obstacle in other meetings even though they are in the minority. There are yet other meetings in which at least most other worshippers are listening for the same Voice for which I am listening. In those meetings, our unity is Christ Jesus, and those are the meetings I prefer to attend.

Efforts to communicate about belief can be subjected to scrutiny and criticism based on each word's meaning. Some words and phrases now apparently have different (sometimes quite different) meanings to different Friends. There are differences between Friends' meetings that go beyond the superficial. I trust that each person who decides to try a Friends' meeting knows what they are looking for, and appreciates knowing beforehand something about the meeting that might indicate whether this is worth a try.

Acknowledging that there are differences between meetings seems reasonable to me. Someone may not use terms I prefer, but the effort to be clear about what matters to a meeting is something I find helpful. When I first heard the term "Christ-centered," I thought it related to belief. I discovered, when I asked, that no, it was in reference to Jesus' teachings, not Christ Jesus as I understand and have experienced His life. Now I know.

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