Saturday, May 3, 2008

Enjoy the Silence

Well, Kristina and the kids went to visit her father in Corpus Christi. I'm planning on, at some point, exercising the Quaker discipline of silence. I have already been practicing the Richard Ramsey discipline of just chilling out and thinking coherent, uninterrupted thoughts.

Speaking of Quakers, there was a troubling article this week in Christianity Today, about Friends General Conference -the branch that has pretty much become Unitarian.

I truly believe that Quakers could make a comeback if they would recover their theology, which had a solid Biblical foundation, and take it to heart. I've been reading Robert Barclay's An Apology for the True Christian Divinity. It is truly a breath of fresh air.


wil said...

that article makes me sick. thank you for sharing it.

Ryan said...

I think Marshall Massey pretty much sums up the problem with the Quakers here.

"Massey said losing Quakerism's Christian heritage cuts away at its unifying belief system and makes it prone to dissolution. Nevertheless, it would be un-Quakerly to try to halt the process.

'Christ is not the sort of person who would drive people away — I don't know that it's our job to stop it,' he said."

Christ is exactly the sort of person who would drive these people away, not by saying they cannot be saved, but by challenging them to repent and seek righteousness. He would do so by telling them exactly what he said in the gospel. A great example is John 14:6 -- "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." This shouldn't be too difficult to understand or apply. Just read the Bible and then teach it every Sunday.

Christ doesn't want milquetoast people in the church (I always picture toast in milk when I hear that word). Being meek doesn't mean abandoning principle, it means being humble to God and that means fearing and respecting God.

I remember going to an event at a school over here in the NW where the Quaker university actually allowed this kind of mystic woman to hold a labyrinth contemplation time. I was appalled, precisely because a walking labyrinth has nothing to do with seeking Christ and everything to do with channeling feelings and "outer-self" who-knows-what.

Hopefully this is an opportunity for the church to speak out to these people with a message of truth and hope and not let them dilute the power of the Word as it is meant to be spoken.

R. Ramsey said...

Yeah, like I said, it is very important to recognize and remember that the original Friends' doctrines, including "The Inner Light" (John 1:9) had a Biblical foundation.

Robert Barclay emphatically stated that the Friends were more than happy to have their doctrines examined by Scripture. He also said that the Holy Spirit would not reveal novel doctrines, but He could reveal insights into doctrines previously revealed in Scripture.

Neither of those statements would harmonize with the practices of the Friends General Conference.

Wil said...


Remember that when you say Quakers you mean "Friends General Conference."

I think the statement that Christ would drive people away by preaching the gospel reveals a little bit about your biases. Christ gathered people, he drew people to him by teaching the gospel. The people who it drove away were those who thought it wasn't harsh enough.

Reading the bible and teaching it on Sunday isn't as easy as you state. While I agree with your interpretation of John 14:6, can you not see how somebody could read it and teach it on Sunday and come away saying that Christ died for everyone and is the way through which everyone goes to heaven?

This is where Quaker doctrines must bridge the gap. We believe in the inner light (as Richie stated) the indwelling of Christ which enlightens men. He enables us to interpret scripture. Nothing else does. While we may use historical records or the Greek language, they are in vain unless we use Christ.

It is precisely these doctrines that make us prone to nutjobs. The presbyterians called our ancestors "experientialists" and grouped us with a bunch of denominations that no longer exist. Puritans hanged Quakers like witches (strange we were once accused of being witches and now are home to witches). My friends call me a gnostic. All because of a misunderstood doctrine that is truly biblical.

The problem with Quakerism is the same problem with modern art. It is a perfect balance of order and chaos. Too much order will take away its novelty and worth, too much chaos will bastardize it. When some 18 year old kid spills paint on a canvas we don't take away from the art of Jackson Pollock. When a pagan claims he is a Quaker it should not take away from the faith of Fox, Barclay or the Ramseys.