This post at BibleMonster got me thinking. The hole he identifies in mainstream christian thinking is one I think Quakers can do well at.

... This theology has grown up inside the sin-salvation paradigm of traditional Christian thinking, in which consequences for sin are deferred to after death (for the individual) and to the endtimes, for civilization. Having thrown out Torah under Paul’s misguidance (at least from the ecologist’s perspective), Christians have abandoned any meaningful covenantal framework for holding each other accountable in real time. As a result, Christian environmentalists have nothing concrete to offer when it comes to accountability—on virtually any topic, let alone environmental policy. So they leave it to the state.


I have read lots of books on Christian earth stewardship and these writers very consistently try to recover the language of covenant in their work. But they have done very little to develop practical models for accountability at any level—the congregation, the regional synod or diocese, the denomination, or the macro-ecumenical organizations. With no models, no meaningful institution building has been done, either.

Is this part of what our Quaker understanding of the Way has to offer to wider world - holding each other accountable to living in God's Light now? Understanding that God's correcting and healing judgement comes on us as we dwell in the Light, so we are shown how we are supposed to live?

Do we have a practical model of local accountability? Does our understanding of Gospel Order show us how to help each other up as we stumble along learning what God's way means? Does it show fruit in good order amongst us, good management of the earth and the earth's resources that God has entrusted us with?

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Comment by Rosemary Gould on 5th mo. 13, 2010 at 3:35pm
Is it possible to have accountability within our meetings without living, to a greater degree than is normal in developed countries, in intentional community? Orthodox Jews are required to live within walking distance of their synagogue. This has all kinds of consequences for the degree of uniformity (accountability) among them, both positive and negative, from all accounts. I bring that up because he contrasts Christians with those who live according to the "Law." Are there meetings which have mutual accountability? I don't feel ours does. But there are many Friends who "let their lives speak."
Comment by Alice Yaxley on 5th mo. 14, 2010 at 9:58am
Good point Rosemary! I have a Kenyan friend and it is normal for her church to meet in the morning, for lunch, in the evening, people are there any time of day whenever not working to eat and pray together. Very different to how it works in the UK.
Comment by Stuart Masters on 5th mo. 14, 2010 at 11:27am
The key issue for me is that we are called to be a people of God and not a loose alliance of individuals. In this sense practical accountability in terms of mutual support and loving admonishment is essential. I would quibble with BibleMonster's assertion that Paul encouraged Christians to reject Torah (although this is certainly how many have interpreted Paul). What I see in Paul and in the way he has influenced Quakers, is the Torah of the heart, including an inward and spiritual circumcision. In the new Covenant of Light, Christ has fulfilled the prophesy of Jeremiah 31:31-34 by bringing God's law and making it available in our inward parts. Shalom, Stuart.


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