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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Monday, July 6, 2009

A little dialogue on Quakerism for the Princess.

You will say, Christ saith this, and the apostles say this; but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God? George Fox

Princess, because mummy asked...

I love the Lord & I love to talk about the Lord & I really enjoy sharing what I believe but history, & especially theological history, can seem very dull sometimes. So you must remember that history is about people; what they thought, what they did, how they acted.

I sometimes quip that Quakers were the first modern charismatics because Quakers is not what Quakers called themselves. They called themselves Friends & their Meeting the Society of Friends. Nowadays Quakers are mostly pacifists but when it all began, back in 17th century England, it wasn't quite like that. Quakers were a zealous bunch & people like George Fox tended to get quite heated about certain things ~ paid ministers, sacred buildings, priests coming between people & God. The early Quakers were fiercely persecuted & brought to trial would often condemn the very people trying them. In their zeal they would often *quake* & if they weren't quaking they were exhorting people to tremble at the word of the Lord~ hence the nickname. It stuck.

England at that time was caught on the twin prongs of the Church of England & Puritanism under Cromwell. The less said about Cromwell the better but he was an important & powerful man. The rise of Quakerism threatened both of these church views in important & profound ways. Firstly, & most importantly, Quakerism stressed that the Holy Spirit was directly accessible by everyone. If you actually believe that then certain other things flow logically from that belief. If you believe the Holy Spirit can & does speak directly to individuals then ordained priests aren't necessary. If you believe that then the biblical argument that we are all priests [1Peter2:9]takes on a new meaning. If you believe that then you believe you can hear from God yourself. If you are convinced you are doing as God tells you you will act according to conscience, not according to church law. You can see how such thinking would upset some people.

I like this quote from Quakersonline: Thus if the Holy Spirit speaks to us personally our highest duty is to listen & our immediate obligation to act in accordance with His will.

Listening. Listening is the Heart of Quakerism. If one is noisy or busy doing one can't really listen so Quaker meetings were held in silence, broken only occasionally if someone felt moved to share what the Holy Spirit had laid upon their heart. This probably sounds very dull. My Ditz certainly thinks it is & I can't speak for those Quakers who aren't Christians or who belong to more programmed Meetings. There are quite a few of those these days but speaking as a Conservative Christian Quaker entering in to the silence is a deeply profound experience. It is like going to meet a good friend. There is a sense of expectation as you wait. Your thoughts might skitter about all over the place but you wait. Eventually your mind settles & grows still & then the Lord Jesus comes & sits with you. Sometimes we just sit together. Sometimes He's got something he wants to say to me. How do I know it's Jesus & not some figment of my overactive imagination you might well ask? Good question, one the early Quakers asked too & set certain guidelines in place as checks. Those checks include things like checking scriptures or having other Friends go to the Lord. There is always agreement when something is fully of God. Over time, as you get to know Jesus better & better it is easier to tell what's what.

Quakerism is experiential. It's whole aim was to bring people into a living, vital confrontation with God where they could know God was true for themselves. We believe something of God resides in everyone. Out of that basic assumption a great social concern arose out of Quakerism. Quakers were among the first to address the issue of slavery & the physical & spiritual needs of prisoners. It is meant to be a faith lived with holiness, that sees other people through God's eyes & each day as sacred as a witness of the love God has for us.

Now, Princess, I may not have answered some questions you may have. I may not have given you enough history ~ like the whole Cromwell thing [but I don't like the man, so I didn't] so feel free to ask ~ either here or by e~mail & I will do my best to answer. One or two other Quakers also read here ocassionally & might be better able to answer your questions so even if I don't know someone is bound to. Your Friend, with boundless joy, Ganeida.


maria said...

Nice to find your blog via another homeschool blog.

It is great to read something about the Quakers and history.

I hope to come here often!

Ganeida said...

Hi Maria. Be welcome. I don't blog a lot about Quakerism. This is a special one for a friend who is doing a homeschool project & thought a real live Quaker might be better than Mr Wiki. ☺

MamaOlive said...

Good on the early Quakers for establishing ways to check if the voice is from God or not. Growing up in mainstream pentecostal churches, this wasn't stressed very much. If someone had a prophecy or interpretation it was all to be taken as fact, without bothering to check if it was scriptural.
But then there's the other side that only wants scripture and denies any live, personal speaking from God. Neither side makes much sense to me.

Ganeida said...

Scripture itself tells us to check. ☺

I know when there is disagreement in a Meeting the Friends concerned will often go to silent prayer until the issue is resolved ~ & resolved in a way that everyone is happy. This is the working of the Spirit bringing His people into unity ~ as Christ prayed in John 17.

Like you I look for balance ~ scripture *&* personal relationship.

seekingmyLord said...

From the Princess: Thank you, Miss Ganeida!
Are some Quakers not Christian?
Do all Quaker women wear head coverings?
Do you actually "quake"?

Me: We looked up some pictures of Meetings and she did ask me if all they do is sit around. LOL! I am one to understand the surrendering to the Holy Spirit (as I would call it, but my fellow Nazarenes would say sanctification) in silence, but practicing this with a group would be an unprecedented event for me.

Thank you very much for doing this for us.

Ganeida said...

Princess: You are very welcome. I enjoyed doing this for you.

To~day not all Quakers are Christian. My closest meeting is mainly non~Christians; one reason I don't make an effort to attend more often. There is a resurgent movement in your own country of Christian Quakerism & very conservative Quakerism that has returned to things like plain dress & plain speech.

Most Quaker women no longer cover. I ocassionaly give a message & cover in accordance with the directive that women who prophesy [give forth the word of God] cover. It is a symbol of being under God's authority & not just speaking of my own bat.

Love your last question! ☺ Lots of Quakers will testify to some form of *quaking*, lol It seems to happen when you enter deeply into the silence & the power of the Holy Spirit is released. I have had it happen in a small way but others have something far larger happen. Short answer ~ yes.

Seeking: lol The Princess & Ditz must share a mind! Ditz does not have a high opinion of *sitting around*. It amuses me 'cause often lots happens, monumental stuff happens but as it's all inward no~one need ever know but the outworkings, especially in social justice areas, are very evident.

As I told the Princess, you are most welcome.

seekingmyLord said...

Princess: Thank you for the answers. I loved them. In your picture, you cover your hair. Do always cover your hair?

Sandra said...

You know I am not of the believers, but I respect you greatly for your tolerance and your wonderfully quirky sense of humor. The intelligence is an obvious given!

Although I knew something of Quakers, you filled in some blanks. Ditz is too young to sit quietly. : )

Ganeida said...

Princess: yes, I nearly always cover my hair...but not always for biblical reasons. I have very fine fly~away hair & I don't like it getting in my eyes.

Sandra:In the course of a misspent life I have learnt very little is actually within *my* control ~ certainly not issues of faith. Nor are witty, intelligent, kind friends to be sneezed at. They are far to rare a find [in RL or Blogland] & are to be cherished. I suffered too much myself at the hands of zealous but misguided Christians to inflict that on someone I actually like! ☺

I don't think Ditz will ever learn to sit quietly.

The HoJo's said...

still remember laughing out loud at Kristians year 1 teacher complaining he couldn't sit still for longer than 5 mins (he was 5 at the time) 5 year olds are not meant to sit still, I proclaimed, daring her to argue, she sighed and agreed, 'but we have to write something on the report'!!
mmm how helpful. He is nearly 9 and still doesn't rate highly on the still thing. Most excellent child :o)

Ganeida said...

Mrs Hojo you are a scream! I am a quiet & introspective person & the Ditz's of this world wear me frazzled fast. lol. That kid's been all agog since the day she was born & started talking at just 5 months old. True. Unfortunately not only did she talk all day but she talked in her sleep as well ~ a constant stream of No! Don't! Stop! A child to bring tears of joy to any mother's heart.

Britwife said...

I keep coming back to this post! :)
I am more confused than ever! I thought I understood being a Quaker. Now I don't get it at all.
Isn't Quakerism a religion? If so, how can there be non-Christian Quakers?
Isn't that like being a non-Christian Catholic or a non-Christian Lutheran/Methodist/Baptist?
I understand that people move away from their being a non-practicing Catholic (or Lutheran, etc).

Ok...I really do have a puzzled look on my face. If Quaker isn't a religion...what do those people consider themselves? The non-Christian ones...? They take the beliefs of being a Quaker but not the Biblical aspect?

Sorry for all the questions - I TRULY am interested! This fascinates me! :)

Ganeida said...

Britwife: I don't mind the questions but I'm not really sure I can help. Because there is no theological dogma Quakers are free to worship God however they percieve him. In an effort to be *inclusive* some Quakers moved away from a strictly Christian tradition & some members of other religions feel very comfortable worshipping with Quakers. I quess you could say they practice the idea of holy space/holy silence without attributing that to the Christian idea of God. Unitarianism has plagued the Quaker tradition since its inception but I don't really understand that either.

Like other religions ideas amongst members differ. Quakers today cover a rather broad range of beliefs from aethiests [yep, that one is real weird] to ultra conservative, plain dressing, plain speaking, sola scriptura bible believing Christians ~ & everything in between.

In Australia we are a very small denomination. My local meeting has about 8 members. The town one maybe 50. We seem to attract a lot of people who have been hurt by other denominations or who are puzzling their way to God by their own means. Quakerism is very supportive of that.

I come from a very liturgical background but have worshiped at some time or another in just about every church going ~ not from choice. Just the way things worked out. Quaker worship is the only one to totally remove all man made barriers between you & God in worship while keeping corporate worship.

I guess I don't find it strange but I am very careful of any *verbal ministry* expressed during worship. In some ways I guess you could compare it to Catholicism. You have your ultra conservative mass every day no married priests ever latin liturgists all the way through to Charismatic Catholics lobbying for a married priesthood...or our local man of the hour whose [Catholic] congregation is mostly composed of gays. Huge fuss in our press.

Just for the record, I'm strictly Christian in beliefs, Quaker in how I like to express that belief. I can't speak for other Quakers. That's one of the quirks of Quakerism. Each individual comes face to face before God as an individual. There can be no hiding behind church dogma or church law, no mitigating of personal responsibility, personal accountability. There is, quite literally, nowhere to hide. This can be frightening & confronting & I suspect it is why so few people choose this path. If you don't engage with God it must be terribly boring. An hour is a long time to twiddle your thumbs in silence. On the other hand, to commune with God in the peace of the garden hour is never enough time.

Jan Lyn said...

I see I have been missing some wonderful posts here and just was delighted on this piece describing Quakerism! I find we are much like-minded being a Christian Quaker myself, but I travel in circles that differ widely from my faith as well as I live in an area where there just frankly are not any more Christ-Centered Meetings. I find that in an unprogrammed meeting I am free--as others are--to seek out the Holy Spirit and do believe in direct access. Others within are seeking and experiencing the inner light differently than me, but we have commonality I find in the Quaker testimonies and I often learn from them if I allow myself to be open. I love and delight in my more liberal Friends and accept atheist Friends but have difficulty understanding where that hour goes, as you say--that expected silence seeking God is so very meaningful and renewing to me. I think emphasis on experience is key, but yes, for me as well I refer to scripture, readings and other people as well. I find it a most healing method of worship that just makes plain good commmon sense. The practice of silence daily also helps my slow my mind and is good for me physically as well. Thanks so much for sharing what is some times very difficult for me to put into words.

Ganeida said...

Jan Lyn! I am so delighted you decided to weigh in on this convo. My experience is my experience & can not possibly speak for anyone else but it is a pleasure to share areas of commonality, even with our non~Christian brethren, as you say. I would love for Allison to comment. She has been worshipping with a Meeting & as someone new[ish] her perspective would be interesting. However I think she has Dramas in RL just now. Pity.