Quakers & Christian Universalism: A Call for Blog Post Writers

Today, after centuries of Christendom’s affirmations that “Jesus is the answer,” he is free at last to be the question again. After centuries in which Christian adherence served as a conformist cloak of social respectability for many, whatever their misgivings, confusions, and hypocrisies, the unabashed Christian is now rather suspect in growing sectors of western society. Now it is getting interesting! After centuries in the gilded cage of officially sanctioned religion, Jesus is free to be subversive again.

—Douglas Gwyn,
‘But Who Do You Say That I Am?’ – Quakers and Christ Today
(Pendle Hill Pamphlet 426, 2014, pp. 4-5)

We are preparing to take Quaker Universalist Conversations in a different direction during March and April. Please consider contributing blog posts on your own perspectives on the paradoxes of Christian universalism.

See our Submission Guidelines
and email us at blog@universalistfriends.org.

There is a strong trend in modern liberal Quakerism of moving beyond the perceived boundaries of traditional Christianity—or even the boundaries of “religion” per se. Over the past six months or so, many of our posts have explored universalism from various secularist or nontheist perspectives. Here are some examples of posts of this exploration:

In addition, of course, we have been publishing Winston Davis’ “Religion, Briefly Considered” series.

In the introduction to the pamphlet cited above, Douglas Gwyn writes the following:

One hears many different perspectives on Christ among Friends today. Some maintain the traditional Quaker-Christian faith…. At the other end of the spectrum are nontheist Friends, who reject not only the divinity of Christ but divinity in general…. The majority of Friends in unprogrammed meetings today probably occupy a variety of positions between these two perspectives….

Most strikingly, these different perspectives on Christ are increasingly muted in the meeting for worship and in conversation among Friends. Christian Friends suppress their witness out of deference to others who may find their language offensive and excluding. Universalist and nontheist Friends likewise soft pedal their criticisms of Christianity in deference to Christian Friends….

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They respond that they have heard various ideas: a prophet, John the Baptist returned from the dead, and more….

Jesus then challenges them, “But who do you say that I am?” Only then does Simon Peter take the leap of faith and blurt out: “You are the Messiah.” Surprisingly, at this pivotal moment, Jesys sternly orders them to tell no one about him (Mark 8:27-30).

Perhaps he understands that his power to heal people and change lives is greater in ambiguity than in certainty….

Today, after centuries of Christendom’s affirmations that “Jesus is the answer,” he is free at last to be the question again. After centuries in which Christian adherence served as a conformist cloak of social respectability for many, whatever their misgivings, confusions, and hypocrisies, the unabashed Christian is now rather suspect in growing sectors of western society. Now it is getting interesting! After centuries in the gilded cage of officially sanctioned religion, Jesus is free to be subversive again.

How does this “sacred ambiguity” play out in your own faith and practice, whatever it is? How could Jesus be a subversive blessing among the people you know and serve and love?

Please contribute your own perspectives on these paradoxes.
See our Submission Guidelines
and email us at blog@universalistfriends.org.

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