It seems to me, tonight, that the function of a church is to provide people whom you can 'believe in God with.'

 

All the other stuff, which may or may not help sometimes, is secondary.

 

It also seems clear that this has to include permission for people to freely disbelieve in God.

 

Example: When Anne & I asked a pastor we know: "Do you believe in God?" he replied:

 

"I suppose so. That's my job, isn't it."

 

So far as "belief" has to be on that kind of basis, it can be quite difficult to know what a person truly does, or doesn't believe. So it can't be a matter of people stirring one another up into expressing a faith they might not  entirely possess.

But it should be a place to find people, where there's an implied agreement between you: "Faith in God permitted here." That you can believe, and talk about it, and expect to have what you know considered an appropriate description of the way things truly are.

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I think a true church is supposed to function just as the body serves its various parts.  It hopefully brings out the best of its parts resulting in the whole being greater than its parts.  The problem is that there's a tendency for some parts to be dysfunctional resulting in the whole body becoming dysfunctional.  there's also a tendency to make some parts do more than they are ready to do.  Some parts of the body like eyes are  supposedly full size at birth.  Others, like ears, grow continuously.  Maybe that's why even new disciples can see hypocrisy when it rears it ugly head but even more mature disciples don't always hear what God is saying to the church.:)



James C Schultz said:

I think a true church is supposed to function just as the body serves its various parts.  It hopefully brings out the best of its parts resulting in the whole being greater than its parts.  The problem is that there's a tendency for some parts to be dysfunctional resulting in the whole body becoming dysfunctional.  there's also a tendency to make some parts do more than they are ready to do.  Some parts of the body like eyes are  supposedly full size at birth.  Others, like ears, grow continuously.  Maybe that's why even new disciples can see hypocrisy when it rears it ugly head but even more mature disciples don't always hear what God is saying to the church.:)

Probably there's more you could say about this?

Thank you, James. I may be quoting you in the future.

This hits the nail right on the head methinks. Thank you.

David Nelson Seaman said:

I think Forrest started a good thread regarding the presence of God as the cornerstone and purpose of human gathering for community, fellowship, shared vision and living life.   We hardly ever dwell deeply into how we define God.

My interpetation, that "of God which in is everyone", means the presence of a higher consciousness acting as a instrument of a universal transcendent will which provides the inner depth of an authentic metaphysical awareness;  one which has less emphasis on a concept, image, or an idea, of a God, but one of a sense of presence, of an unltimate ground of reality and meaning from which life and love spontaneously flowers.   It is an awareness of of an inner truth which teaches us it excedes our grasp of completely knowing it- and why we bow our humble heads in prayer, it seems to me.     

I see Meeting less as a mechanism for social control, monitoring the religious experience or desire to influence current politics or histographies, and more of as a space sustained by those sharing, and wishing to share, the same awe inspired awareness of a presence amoung us.  For many Quakers, this experience in that of Jesus Christ, or a reverance for his teachings and life; while for others it is the direct transcendent presence of God within, which by itself,  ignited the spirit and light which was then born in his flesh.   We need to talk more about God, and how that very word evokes both awe and inspiration that we were all meant to be. 



David Nelson Seaman said:

I think Forrest started a good thread regarding the presence of God as the cornerstone and purpose of human gathering for community, fellowship, shared vision and living life.   We hardly ever dwell deeply into how we define God.

My interpetation, that "of God which in is everyone", means the presence of a higher consciousness acting as a instrument of a universal transcendent will which provides the inner depth of an authentic metaphysical awareness;  one which has less emphasis on a concept, image, or an idea, of a God, but one of a sense of presence, of an unltimate ground of reality and meaning from which life and love spontaneously flowers.   It is an awareness of of an inner truth which teaches us it excedes our grasp of completely knowing it- and why we bow our humble heads in prayer, it seems to me.     

I see Meeting less as a mechanism for social control, monitoring the religious experience or desire to influence current politics or histographies, and more of as a space sustained by those sharing, and wishing to share, the same awe inspired awareness of a presence amoung us.  For many Quakers, this experience in that of Jesus Christ, or a reverance for his teachings and life; while for others it is the direct transcendent presence of God within, which by itself,  ignited the spirit and light which was then born in his flesh.   We need to talk more about God, and how that very word evokes both awe and inspiration that we were all meant to be.


Aside from God not being "a concept of God", it's good to stretch our minds around descriptions, to get some sense of what 'This' might look like. I like yours.

Yes, we shouldn't be engaged in 'monitoring the religious experience' -- but sharing and encouraging, yes!
 

We may also need to talk about "how that very word" evokes distaste and disbelief in many people. People who've been offered so much 'false God' that they don't readily trust there's anything real  available. And don't realize how impoverished  this leaves them. I don't know anything for this but to trust God to work it out.

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