As a Quaker, what is the function of the scriptures to your faith?

I have found it very interesting to read the various different takes on what part the scriptures play in the lives of Quakers.  How do you see their importance.  Are the scriptures an account of God's relationship with man and His people?  Are they meant as a guideline? An anchor?  Do you follow them loosely or literally?  Are they to be read as a discipline of our faith or as an occasional uplifting help causing us to pause and think of God?

Please feel free to share exactly what you believe, I am sure we can all gain understanding from each others experience.

One note, let us please express in love.  Share what you believe and do not be tempted to unkind words towards others. I can't wait to see your comments!

When there are many comments, I will then post my final thoughts on the issue.

Peace to all,

Nanna Kapp

Views: 456

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I'm all ears . . . tell me about your understanding.


These are my current thoughts on the place, meaning and value of scripture in my walk as a follower of Jesus. It just so happens Paul (of all people) said it so well before me, and these words which I believe were inspired by God are sufficient in describing the place scripture holds in my life. I find these words worthy of meditation.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (King James)

I would add these thoughts;

As I look at scripture objectively I find it is more a description of a life with God rather than a prescription for a life with God.

There was a time when I was younger in the faith that I had a larger appetite to read scripture. I found that by reading these historical accounts of God interacting with humanity I was able to look for (and find) Him in my life more easily. However, as my thirst to know Him remained unquenched, and I turned to the Scriptures to read His history, I still remained unsatisfied, unquenched, and became more self judgmental. For me I came to realize that I would never be able to know all the principles, keep all the rules, memorize enough, trust myself, or debate the intellectuals very well. I have friends who have a gift for study; I’m not really put together that way. Was I to conclude my intimacy with God and therefore my ability to be in relationship with Him was dependant upon my ability to process and retain information?

I read about the Pharisees and concluded these were not all evil men. I believe most were men who had the best of intentions, to know God’s requirements as passed on by God (and man) through history and apply them to the routine of their daily life cycle. Yet here comes Jesus saying they missed it! He talked about the condition of the heart. He railed against the religious spirit.

There came a day when, in crisis, I met Him intimately. My religion crumbled as did the façade of attempted behavioral discipline I called ‘faith’. He removed my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh (at my request). He writes His law on my heart now.

Yet none of this diminishes scripture. I cannot think of a time when His leading in my life contradicted the words Christ spoke. Now, sometimes quite often (sometimes not) I find myself in scripture. Whether I’m preparing a talk, exploring a notion, or desiring a reminder of His truth; it’s always as a result of His leading, and when I read, I find confirmation of, or definition to; my experience.

I believe Jesus came to restore the relationship that was broken in Eden. I believe that is the story behind scripture and the intent of God’s heart. I believe God wants to walk with us just like He did with Adam and Eve, perhaps not physically like He did with them, but in relationship, in this moment. I do not believe He needs a book to do that, helpful as it has proven to be.

If a relationship with Him is solely dependant upon scripture knowledge, then the intellectual has a better chance of being His friend than me and what’s the stinking use.

I knew above all else what I wanted was to hear Him talk to me, engage me, and live with me in the moments of my life. Now I hear Him, every moment I desire. He calls me His friend, and scripture pales in comparison to sharing the moments of my existence in complete abandonment to the relationship with Him. Reading a historical account of how He talked to someone else is like the difference in reading about a loved one’s thoughts or having an intimate conversation while holding hands.

God is ongoing in revealing Himself to His creation and scripture is useful for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness.
Dear friend Steve,

Well, you have hardly left me anything to write on my own belief! It seems that you have covered every point which I would say has been my own experience. The scripture you quoted, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (King James) Is the scripture God gave me at the beginning of my walk with him when I was very (very) young. I have never known it to fail.

As you so eloquently stated, "There came a day when, in crisis, I met Him intimately. My religion crumbled as did the façade of attempted behavioral discipline I called ‘faith’. He removed my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh (at my request). He writes His law on my heart now. Yet none of this diminishes scripture. I cannot think of a time when His leading in my life contradicted the words Christ spoke."

This too has been my own experience. I will also add that with the new heart of flesh which he himself is able to write upon and walking in this wonderful union of life and love in the Holy Spirit, I know that the bible itself is not what keeps my faith alive and growing. After all, I can loose my school book but if I have the teacher, He can teach me everything in the book and more.

That being said, I would be sad to be without the bible because it is so helpful in leading me to a deeper walk. But, having Christ dwelling in me, not having a bible would not diminish my relationship as long as that quiet communion and abiding in Christ was in place.

I surely didn't make my stance as clearly as you have Steve, and I appreciate your testimony to this discussion as all the others who are taking part.

Feel free to keep going everyone, I just felt it time to share my point of view here.

Peace to all,

Nanna Kapp
I didn't grow up Quaker, but I did grow up steeped in the Bible, thanks to my mother. I found Friends in my teens as a result of wrestling with the spiritual consequences of my economic life, partly pushed by the Bible. I've read the whole (protestant) thing a few times, and there are parts (the gospels, the psalms, the prophets, James' epistle) to which I return frequently.

I go through periods of reading the Bible daily and periods of not reading it at all; even in the latter times it's with me. Sometimes inspiring, comforting. "They that wait upon the Lord, they shall renew their strength.." "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light..." Often challenging. "Purify your hearts, you double-minded!" "Thou shalt not profit from thy neighbor's blood." "Why do you spend your wages on that which is not bread, and your labor on that which does not satisfy?'

Some parts seem wrong to me or don't speak to me at all. This changes over time; parts of Paul's epistles to which I once had an allergic reaction now help me. I seem to have to grow into the book. There may be parts that always just seem wrong. I don't know. I just need to keep paying attention. I do know the difference between the discomfort of a passage that doesn't make sense to me and the discomfort of a passage that points out an area in which I'm being unfaithful.
I also turned to the same passage of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) upon reading Nanna Kapp's initial post in this thread. I though, have leaned towards an alternate translation of the Greek than that used by the King James and most other English translations. The Revised English Bible reads:

All inspired Scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man of God may be capable and equipped for good work of every kind.

The New Revised Standard Version is similar to the KJV with an alternate reading note that reads like the REB. It reads, with the alternate reading in parentheses:

All Scripture is inspired by God and is (or Every Scripture inspired by God is also) useful for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

You'll note the subtle difference in meaning, regardless the keyword is inspired which means "God breathed" -or living as Adam was God breathed and became a living being. My point is the truth contained in the Scriptures is not static; it is the dynamic living word of God. And, even when I've read a particular passage in the light of the Spirit at different points in my life I've heard different (sometimes on the surface contradictory) truths. I think this is appropriate, but I'm a gen-xer and I don't have any problem with truth being polyvalent. Rumi has a poem about two laundrymen, one washes and the other dries. He says, only a fool would think they were working at cross purposes -one getting the clothes wet or adding water, the other ringing them dry or taking away water the purpose is to CLEAN the clothes ( read soul).

So much for the mystical. Otherwise intellectually, I try to be aware of what I'm reading in Scripture -history, poetry, myth etc. and not confuse form with content. It seems to me the end result of a fundamentalist (always literal reading -even when common sense dictates otherwise IMHO) take comes across like not seeing the truth in Aesop's fable of the sour grapes because obviously, foxes can't talk.

I'm sorry to be difficult dear, but it's (the bible at least as scripture) --- it's just so badly written.
The 23 psalm aside, well it's just a mess to a reader.
I've worked very hard going through it line by line.What a waste of time.
love Ben Schultz
These Friends speak for me.

Yet, none of us can speak for all Friends. There are bodies of Friends that neither accept scriptural authority nor the divinity and leadership of Jesus Christ. To me, to accept scriptures is the foundation of theology. Yet, after studying them at length, I understood them better as moral stories, than as cold hard facts. There is a warm place in our hearts for stories that on their face tell us about mankind in his search for ultimate intimacy. The Old Testament speaks of the failure of the chosen people to live up to the principles laid down at Mt. Sinai. The Lord gaveth, and Israel neglected and squandered their relationship with the Lord. The New Testament begins with those apostate people trying to recapture some semblance of their religious practice and the emergence of a divine person, Jesus Bar Joseph of Nazareth, who interpreted scripture pragmatically and inclusively. He had a lot of followers but few real friends. At his cruel and unjust death, only one apostle dared to show his face and bear with the two women that loved Jesus so much wild horses could not keep them away from seeking to give comfort. Afterwords, Jesus returns as a gardener, a companion in the road and as a beachcomber cooking breakfast; and that was just for starters. The stories are archetypical and deeply moving in and of themselves. Whether or not there is a birth certificate in some jar in the Judean desert with Jesus, Mary and Joseph's names affixed thereto, the stories of faith and faithfulness, the examples and the metaphors are all worthy of the Christian phenomenon as it played out in those first centuries.

The imposition of Roman order upon Christianity took away the attention from those sweet ecstasies that come from meeting, if only briefly, with the Spirit of God, and replaced it with man made regularity, mediocrity and cruelty. George Fox was deeply devoted to the Bible and many of his speeches were strings of Bible verses turned toward conversational. He reawakened the close personal relationship of an individual with the Spirit of God. He also took his leadings and squared them off with Biblical teaching before he acted on them. How the Bible fell out of favor with some Friends is another story. For me, Bible verses equal words out of context, like Chinese fortune cookies. We must write each complete story into our hearts if we are to discern the meaning and purpose of our leadings coming from the silence.
Dear Ben,

You certainly are not being difficult. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on things and I am glad you joined the discussion. I was wondering, have you tried "The Message" bible? It's put into the language of today and is extremely interesting to read. I have known many people who just can't get into the bible but really like the message.

Peace to you,

Nanna Kapp
I suppose it's a matter of taste. I enjoy several versions of the Bible (King James, New jerusalem, New International..), but find that the Message doesn't work well for me; sometimes it seems to have ironed out the fascinating and important ambiguities in the Bible, and it doesn't sing.
"Line by line" is thorough enough, but might not connect the lines well.

We're not discussing something produced by a team of technical writers. We've got an anthology translated into English, largely from a liturgical language that covers a shortage of words by using a lot of metaphors.

The Bible, in some places, suffers from being written in what I'd call a "self-congratulatory" style, along the lines of "God loves us-who-have-Gotten-It, and you folks who haven't had better watch out!" That aspect is extremely off-putting, especially if you don't feel eager to jump on that bandwagon, and you wonder, does God really see things that way?...

There have been a great many people who've fallen into that sort of misinterpretation: the "I'm going to Heaven; too bad about you!" sort of thing-- but it is a misinterpretation. That is, when you see how many ways passages can be misunderstood, see which ways they make sense and are consistent with divine love, vs the occasional bit that just has to be blamed on some narrow-minded guy indulging his cultural limitations in God's name.

It's less of a waste if you can read from a standpoint of: "What can I find that's good in all this?" Not necessarily easy.
As a Quaker what function do the scriptures play in your faith?

I thought here I would let George Fox enter into our discussion through exerpts from his own letters to friends. (that would be us.)

now all wait to have the same spirit manifested in your understandings,
which was in those who gave forth the scriptures,
who had come out of the broad way,
holy men of God, who had escaped the pollutions of the world.
And if every particular of you does not know a principle within,
which is of God, to guide you to wait upon God,
you are still in your own knowledge, which is brutish and sensual

Not only have I always believed that the scriptures where inspired of God and that the writings of the apostles etc. should be believed as the truth, it is evident here from this exerpt of one of George Fox's letters that he believed likewise in the importance of the scriptures to lead us to God which is our Goal.

Here is yet another example,

For the words of God that proceed from him,
are powerful and mighty in operation,
to the throwing down of all the strongholds of the man of sin. (here he simply 'speaks' scripture which is what he is apt to do most times.)

Therefore I charge you all in the presence of the living God,
to wait in the light which comes from Christ,
that with it you may receive the life;
that with the light and life, which are one,
you may come to have the scriptures opened to you,
which were given from the light.

I believe, as George Fox does, that the scriptures must be opened up to us through the light of the spirit. I do not believe that scripture is something to be understood on an intellectual level. But that things of the spirit must be understood by the spirit.

Most of George Fox's writings and letters to friends are steeped with scripture and validates the fact that the scriptures were deffinately a guiding force in his life and development of Quakerism.

I was therefore puzzled by many Quakers do not see the importance of the scriptures for their own daily lives. After all, if I align myself with a particular group based on particular beliefs which the founder of said group has laid down, how could I rightly be a part of that group if I did not take seriously the exhortations which the founding father laid down!

Now, I understand completely groups that break off and call themselves something completely different. To me that makes sense. But to be, a Quaker is to follow Quakerism as given by George Fox. For me, the various break off groups that call themselves 'Quaker---(something else)', are just that.... "Something Else".

And that's all fine, anyone who has a relationship through Christ with God and has the blessing of the Holy Spirit are my brothers and sisters. I'm not talking about being "saved" etc. or being part of the "right" group.

I guess what I am finding a hard time understanding is, why would some align with a group of people when they so clearly believe differently. Is it to have an instant history? Is it for the 'Quaintness' or life style of the group. Is it to be understood as being of a particular political stance?

Or is it more about God. Is it really about the original religious convictions of a people willing to give up all, including there own lives to follow the light of the spirit. Original convictions which included the belief that all scripture was inspired by God. That, for a Quaker, no day would go by without more than one set aside time for reading the scripture.

Am I a Quaker? Yes, I am. And the scripture is an integral part of my life and faith.

Peace to all,

Nanna Kapp


Now I know this will probably draw some new and perhaps strong opinions, which of course I welcome and everyone has a right to. Lets just be sure not to attack any individual personally. Keep it challenging but nice friends.
RE: "I was therefore puzzled by many Quakers do not see the importance of the scriptures for their own daily lives. After all, if I align myself with a particular group based on particular beliefs which the founder of said group has laid down, how could I rightly be a part of that group if I did not take seriously the exhortations which the founding father laid down!"

I'm sorry that you are puzzled, but there exist many people who call themselves Quakers who do not see this "importance of scriptures for their own daily lives" and are quite comfortable with that.

Reply to Discussion


Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? Our costs run to about $50/month. If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.

Latest Activity

T Burke updated their profile
2nd day (Mon)
Keith Saylor posted a blog post

The renewal of the intellect in Christ's Living and Continuous Presence

The spirit of Jesus Christ is come and in Christ's presence I am drawn out of the reflective…See More
8th month 6
Forrest Curo commented on Russ Elliott's blog post 'No Title'
"So, can an illusion injure real people? We know it can; yet we find the whole phenomena baffling!…"
8th month 3
Forrest Curo commented on Russ Elliott's blog post 'No Title'
"One reason we're sometimes reluctant to talk about it is that it's an illusion: ie a…"
7th month 31
Michael Reuscher updated their profile
7th month 20
Christopher Hatton replied to Donn Weinholtz's discussion 'Chapter 3 Jesus Christ MBA: Take Me Out To The Ball Game'
"I‘m not a baseball fan, and didn‘t understand the „Johnny Damon joke“ but…"
7th month 18
Christopher Hatton liked Donn Weinholtz's discussion Chapter 3 Jesus Christ MBA: Take Me Out To The Ball Game
7th month 18
Cathy L McMickle liked QuakerQuaker's group Family Life
7th month 17

© 2022   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service