Quakers inherited various elements, good and bad, from the Puritanism of the times from which our movement was born. One was the belief (echoed by Barclay) that our 'natural' self is naturally inclined to sin. Quakers said that Christ, the Light in each person, could overcome that tendency, but through most of our history our theology has been that this required the complete demolishment of that natural self, which was held to be entirely disjoint from, unlike, typically at war with the Light in us.

Most people do have at least one person, close enough to matter deeply, who really wants us to be one kind of person -- although in fact, that isn't who we are at all.

I don't even know how many people would like themselves to be some kind of person they simply aren't.

For God to be making such demands on us would suggest a flaw in the Creation. That we grow up, yes. That we develop what's good in us and come to behave better -- much better! -- yes. But that there's been a Mistake such that the wrong person got Created and we ought to be someone we aren't?

Is this as common as I fear? Isn't it mistaken?

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same thing in my eyes.

What a difference a metaphor seems to make!

If people want the same thing, but think different things about what it is and how to find it...? Sometimes, I'd say, a new metaphor puts it in a whole different light. For me, many of the old wineskins have started to smell bad. I suspect this is why we've had so many years of Liberal Friends reluctant to go near the stuff.

(?)

Getting back to your original point:

The doctrine of total depravity which you so dislike in the Puritans, is their interpretation of the same doctrine as put forward by Calvin, who in turn was interpreting Augustine who in turn was interpreting Paul.

To the extent any of these folks (including early Quakers) were trying to be somebody they were not I agree this is not a good thing.

But behind all this interpretations of reinterpretations of somebody else's misinterpretations are some salient points I think. We are born to become someone else. Physically we start his infants and grow into adults. And something analogous to that happens intellectually emotionally and spiritually. The who we become is not alien to who we started out has but is implicit in who we were.

At the risk of sounding very Trinitarian we are in some ways three different people. We are who we were created to be/become. We are also who we are called to be — which sometimes requires stretching a little bit beyond two we were created to be/become. And then there is who we have the power/resources/capacity to be/become. And those three people are not necessarily all the same. There is a certain negotiation involved between the three poles.

The difference the early Quakers made from their Calvinist neighbours was that they did not stay at the doctrine of total depravity. For a Calvinist depravity was a given and so you had to live with it until Judgment Day when you got the crown and the robes. The Quakers talked about total depravity only as a rhetorical move to get to their solution to the problem: responding faithfully to the Inward Light.

I do agree however — that this through line of theological anti-humanism misses the point the Bible makes when God creates all that is, blesses it, and declares it good.

The most basic principle of Christianity is we don't need anyone else's interpretation.  We all have access to the Holy Spirit.  Confirmation is nice and in many instances necessary but you shouldn't start with the interpretation.  We should open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit and then let the "men/women of God" confirm what we believe we heard.

Not visited too many churches lately have you? :)

James C Schultz said:

The most basic principle of Christianity is we don't need anyone else's interpretation.  



David McKay said:

Not visited too many churches lately have you? :)

James C Schultz said:

The most basic principle of Christianity is we don't need anyone else's interpretation.  

As a matter of fact, no.  I stopped because many Pastors act like mini-Popes.  Originally I looked for guidance but the more I read the Bible and compared it to what I was hearing I decided to switch and look for guidance from the Holy Spirit and then look for confirmation from preachers.  There's a time for everything under the Heavens.  I do miss the great worship that a vibrant church can provide.  I can enjoy Christian Fellowship with my Christian friends without a formal church body.   Unprogrammed Quaker Worship worked well for me until it became more political and membership driven than one of spiritual seeking.  

That was before Adam and Eve got evicted!

David McKay said:

I do agree however — that this through line of theological anti-humanism misses the point the Bible makes when God creates all that is, blesses it, and declares it good.

We are born to become ourselves in a way that was no more apparent, at birth, than an acorn is visibly an oak tree.

God may have some definite blueprint in mind, or the intended result may be largely open-ended, I wouldn't know (and might not understand!)

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There are too many of "the most basic principle of"s Christianity for any of them to really be "the" most basic. But a lot of them follow from "God is real"... What's built on that rock ought to hold up well, once one includes the power and the love and the wisdom of "what we mean by 'God' ".

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In reading the beginning of Genesis, I understand that a perfectly valid reading of the Hebrew text goes: "When God began to create the Heavens and the Earth..." implying no particular end point (aside from rests) to that process. So the Adams family being removed from the Garden (before they got into anything else dangerous) would have been one among many events God started creating then, along with everything since and all those events being created at this very moment. All good (though not done yet!)

We think we make decisions ourselves (and we do!) but God would always be a (more-or-less explicit) participant.

?

Works for me.

Forrest Curo said:

There are too many of "the most basic principle of"s Christianity for any of them to really be "the" most basic. But a lot of them follow from "God is real"... What's built on that rock ought to hold up well, once one includes the power and the love and the wisdom of "what we mean by 'God' ".

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We think we make decisions ourselves (and we do!) but God would always be a (more-or-less explicit) participant.

Maybe we should think of God as the one who posts all those signs:  Detour; No Vacancy; Welcome; Closed for repairs, etc. that greet us as we move along life's path.

David McKay said:

Works for me.

Forrest Curo said:

There are too many of "the most basic principle of"s Christianity for any of them to really be "the" most basic. But a lot of them follow from "God is real"... What's built on that rock ought to hold up well, once one includes the power and the love and the wisdom of "what we mean by 'God' ".

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We think we make decisions ourselves (and we do!) but God would always be a (more-or-less explicit) participant.

That's certainly one of the things God has done to point me to good things and away from some of the worse mistakes I might have made.

There is still that matter of a common (I think)  background feeling of being inept, inadequate, and way in over our heads...

Useful illusion, affliction, what? It does seem to be a social construct: ie, parental expectations, the harshness of a 'get there first or we'll keep you from going anywhere' school system, the expectations and demands we're unthinkingly inclined to put on Significant Others as soon as domesticity looms...

Clearly it works as a blockage to love and receiving love. But it's not helpful to kick ourselves around for having it, nor can we easily poke it out. What, then?

I am not sure there is a clear answer.  I think part of that feeling is background, upbringing; and the other part is reality - let's face it we are in over our heads.  There is so much we have no control over that if we stopped to really analyze it we would be petrified.  That's where the saying "Ignorance is bliss" is relevant.  I can remember how much I wanted to graduate from College not having the slightest idea where that would actually lead.  If I knew then what I know now I think I would have been a lot less goal driven.  The same can be said for marriage and having children.   It wasn't until I was 38 years old and started my spiritual journey that I could relax and let life unfold and even then it was and still is a step by step process.  For me personally it was the sudden realization that I didn't have to know the answer to everything and that being wrong wasn't the end of the world.

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