Quakers and Pagans together

The Quakers are finding a new strategy for church growth: Merge with paganism! From “Pagans find a sometimes uneasy home among Quakers”, referring to “a small but growing movement of Quakers who also identify as pagan — a trend that may or may not exist in other Christian traditions, but certainly not in such an organized, public fashion”:

Across the board, the number of Quakers is dwindling, to roughly 100,000 in the U.S. But if Quakerism continues to catch on among the estimated half million pagans in the U.S., those who embrace both traditions predict that could reverse the Quakers’ downward trend. Still, some Quakers worry about losing their own traditions through the process of accepting new ones.

In the last decade, this dual faith has sprung up around the country, including Quaker-pagan gatherings, seminars, an extensive presence on the Internet, and even explicitly Quaker-pagan congregations. There may be only several hundred Quaker pagans, but among American Quakers, their presence can be distinctly felt.

“It seems that now, in most liberal meetings at least, you can always find a few members that identify as pagan,” says Stasa Morgan-Appel of Ann Arbor, Mich., who has facilitated a Quaker pagan interest group since 2002.

Quakers — officially the Religious Society of Friends — are divided into four main branches, three of which are explicitly Christian. Pagans have been generally joining the liberal fourth branch, the Friends General Conference, which counts 30,000 members in North America, including Morgan-Appel.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bror Erickson

    Sasse actually predicted this in the 1930s with his essay “Holy communion in the life of the Church.” He mentions the quakers by name, in speaking of how a Church that divorces itself from the sacraments ceases to be church, and becomes nothing more than a think tank, or political movement.

  • Bror Erickson

    Sasse actually predicted this in the 1930s with his essay “Holy communion in the life of the Church.” He mentions the quakers by name, in speaking of how a Church that divorces itself from the sacraments ceases to be church, and becomes nothing more than a think tank, or political movement.

  • http://kibblesbits.wordpress.com Ann

    I wuoldn’t call it a Quaker Strategy for Church Growth; that would imply, I think, that Quakers are actively seeking Pagan members. I do like the comment above mine, though. It does often feel like a think tank or political movement, in some branches of the RSOF.

  • http://kibblesbits.wordpress.com Ann

    I wuoldn’t call it a Quaker Strategy for Church Growth; that would imply, I think, that Quakers are actively seeking Pagan members. I do like the comment above mine, though. It does often feel like a think tank or political movement, in some branches of the RSOF.

  • Bruce

    I think the Society will look different in different places. Here in the People’s Republic of Madison, Wi, it has been pagan for a long time. Back in the early nineties, for example, a member could not cite the Bible as sole authority in any teaching, if it was to be cited at all (which seemed to be discouraged to some extent). It had to be backed up by another “authoritative” source of some sort. And off we go from there…

  • Bruce

    I think the Society will look different in different places. Here in the People’s Republic of Madison, Wi, it has been pagan for a long time. Back in the early nineties, for example, a member could not cite the Bible as sole authority in any teaching, if it was to be cited at all (which seemed to be discouraged to some extent). It had to be backed up by another “authoritative” source of some sort. And off we go from there…

  • Nate Swift

    Propositional theology with its well-defined boundaries in creeds and dogmas and with its clearly religious ceremonials is certainly a lot easier to understand and deal with, but how well do the precepts and examples of Jesus translate into our personal lives? How many “religious” people speaking in percentages spend much effort trying to do the things Jesus did and more? The thing I hear often is that most of these “pagans” are disillusioned with “mainstream churches” for the reason that they appear to be more about social clubs than about living in and demonstrating God’s love. That some such find liberal Quakerism attractive is only a testament to the value of such activism, I think.
    There is ongoing dialogue concerning the place of Jesus in Liberal Quakerism and the reaction of many to the exclusionary dogma of mainstream churches. I wonder how you see this in relations to “emergent church” movements?

  • Nate Swift

    Propositional theology with its well-defined boundaries in creeds and dogmas and with its clearly religious ceremonials is certainly a lot easier to understand and deal with, but how well do the precepts and examples of Jesus translate into our personal lives? How many “religious” people speaking in percentages spend much effort trying to do the things Jesus did and more? The thing I hear often is that most of these “pagans” are disillusioned with “mainstream churches” for the reason that they appear to be more about social clubs than about living in and demonstrating God’s love. That some such find liberal Quakerism attractive is only a testament to the value of such activism, I think.
    There is ongoing dialogue concerning the place of Jesus in Liberal Quakerism and the reaction of many to the exclusionary dogma of mainstream churches. I wonder how you see this in relations to “emergent church” movements?

  • Don S

    Not all Quakers are liberal. The EFI (Evangelical Friends International) is a conservative evangelical denomination with pastor-led services much like any other evangelical church.

  • Don S

    Not all Quakers are liberal. The EFI (Evangelical Friends International) is a conservative evangelical denomination with pastor-led services much like any other evangelical church.

  • http://www.obedienttothelight.blogspot.com Linda Wilk

    Those inclined to make fast judgement of liberal members of the Religious Society of Friends would do well to refer to the May 2008 issue of Friends Journal. There you can read about the movement among young adult Friends who are seeking a “radical, spiritual Quakerism.”

    Living without closely defined creeds or doctrine does open the door for some unusual seekers to make their way into worship. This has proven in my own unprogrammed meeting to provide delicious fodder for spiritual discussion and journey. Somehow even conservative Friends seem to think that the absence of this doctrine, or of a defined leader like a pastor, will leave liberal Friends trodding down the path to damnation.

    Instead, quite the opposite is true. After over 25 years since being convinced I was a Friend, I have dwelt in strong community with other Friends and attenders who, like me, were seekers of the Light. Some of us came as pagans, some as refugees from the more organized Christian or Catholic worlds, some were lifelong Friends. Among us there was one common theme, the desire to live and work as the Light directs us, and to support each other in that living. Some of us call that Light the Christ within, but some, feeling damaged by the church communities from which we came, feel more comfortable referring to that inner direction as only the Light.

    Our meetings function as any other healthy spiritual community: we worship together, we try to live daily our spiritual beliefs, we support and elder each other in growing along our spiritual paths, and we tend to each other and the world around us in need.

    In recent years, living in a world that seems to think that there is somehow something peaceful that can result from war, our testimony that “there shall be no occasion for war” has drawn many wayfaring strangers to our midst. They are seeking something not found elsewhere: an answer to the question, what else is there to do?

    Jew or gentile, pagan or Christian, or from any other religion, I believe what Jesus wants is that we open the door and welcome these travelers in. Many Friends throughout history, and many theologians in all traditions have admitted that God is so much greater than anything we can imagine.

    The Society of Friends is growing in our little corner of the world, not because we have found a new strategy for church growth, but because we are not afraid to invite those travelers to join us on our journey. The Light of God, that lives within us all, is far more influential than any one tradition. I trust that Light will guide us all.

  • http://www.obedienttothelight.blogspot.com Linda Wilk

    Those inclined to make fast judgement of liberal members of the Religious Society of Friends would do well to refer to the May 2008 issue of Friends Journal. There you can read about the movement among young adult Friends who are seeking a “radical, spiritual Quakerism.”

    Living without closely defined creeds or doctrine does open the door for some unusual seekers to make their way into worship. This has proven in my own unprogrammed meeting to provide delicious fodder for spiritual discussion and journey. Somehow even conservative Friends seem to think that the absence of this doctrine, or of a defined leader like a pastor, will leave liberal Friends trodding down the path to damnation.

    Instead, quite the opposite is true. After over 25 years since being convinced I was a Friend, I have dwelt in strong community with other Friends and attenders who, like me, were seekers of the Light. Some of us came as pagans, some as refugees from the more organized Christian or Catholic worlds, some were lifelong Friends. Among us there was one common theme, the desire to live and work as the Light directs us, and to support each other in that living. Some of us call that Light the Christ within, but some, feeling damaged by the church communities from which we came, feel more comfortable referring to that inner direction as only the Light.

    Our meetings function as any other healthy spiritual community: we worship together, we try to live daily our spiritual beliefs, we support and elder each other in growing along our spiritual paths, and we tend to each other and the world around us in need.

    In recent years, living in a world that seems to think that there is somehow something peaceful that can result from war, our testimony that “there shall be no occasion for war” has drawn many wayfaring strangers to our midst. They are seeking something not found elsewhere: an answer to the question, what else is there to do?

    Jew or gentile, pagan or Christian, or from any other religion, I believe what Jesus wants is that we open the door and welcome these travelers in. Many Friends throughout history, and many theologians in all traditions have admitted that God is so much greater than anything we can imagine.

    The Society of Friends is growing in our little corner of the world, not because we have found a new strategy for church growth, but because we are not afraid to invite those travelers to join us on our journey. The Light of God, that lives within us all, is far more influential than any one tradition. I trust that Light will guide us all.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    It’s totally pagan out here in Maryland. There are many Quakers here. They are nice to be around, though, very peaceful.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    It’s totally pagan out here in Maryland. There are many Quakers here. They are nice to be around, though, very peaceful.

  • Paul

    This prayer from the Roman Catholic Mass,
    In this great sacrament you feed your people and strengthen them in holiness,so that the human family may come to walk in the light of one faith,in one communion of love. We come then to this sacrament to be fed at your table and grow into the likeness of the risen Christ.
    This great sacrament for me is the silence of the Quaker Meeting for Worship.
    God comes to us in the sacramental silence and transform us into his likeness.
    White Quakers, Christians Quakers, Universalist Quakers, Quakers of Color,
    yes pagan/earth centered Quakers.
    This sacramental approach has help me to value diversity among Friends.
    Because it is God not me who is at work in the diversity.
    Yes, God calls us sometimes to participate in the work of transformation of God’s people
    but at the end of day we need to remember this is God’s work not are work
    Blessing,
    Paul

  • Paul

    This prayer from the Roman Catholic Mass,
    In this great sacrament you feed your people and strengthen them in holiness,so that the human family may come to walk in the light of one faith,in one communion of love. We come then to this sacrament to be fed at your table and grow into the likeness of the risen Christ.
    This great sacrament for me is the silence of the Quaker Meeting for Worship.
    God comes to us in the sacramental silence and transform us into his likeness.
    White Quakers, Christians Quakers, Universalist Quakers, Quakers of Color,
    yes pagan/earth centered Quakers.
    This sacramental approach has help me to value diversity among Friends.
    Because it is God not me who is at work in the diversity.
    Yes, God calls us sometimes to participate in the work of transformation of God’s people
    but at the end of day we need to remember this is God’s work not are work
    Blessing,
    Paul

  • Bror Erickson

    No one who really wants to “be like Christ,” or “follow Christ” ever forsakes what Christ has given them in the sacraments of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. Neither do they ignore what he said about being “the way, the truth, and the life, except by whom no one comes to the Father.”
    If worship ceases to center itself around Christ, and his sacraments it ceases to be Christian worship.

  • Bror Erickson

    No one who really wants to “be like Christ,” or “follow Christ” ever forsakes what Christ has given them in the sacraments of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. Neither do they ignore what he said about being “the way, the truth, and the life, except by whom no one comes to the Father.”
    If worship ceases to center itself around Christ, and his sacraments it ceases to be Christian worship.

  • Nate Swift

    An Episcopalian priest gave me a new slant on that passage, Bror, before I ever read Barclay’s explanation: the traditional understanding is EXclusive, but Jesus was being INclusive, that is, whoever comes to the Father IS coming in the Way that Jesus taught and embodied. As for the “sacraments,” did you ever think that they are physical representations of spiritual truths, and what is important is to hold those spiritual truths? The point here is that, perhaps MORE traditional organizations should be doing a little mote/beam examination as to why sincere seekers are looking outside “Christianity” for purpose and community.

  • Nate Swift

    An Episcopalian priest gave me a new slant on that passage, Bror, before I ever read Barclay’s explanation: the traditional understanding is EXclusive, but Jesus was being INclusive, that is, whoever comes to the Father IS coming in the Way that Jesus taught and embodied. As for the “sacraments,” did you ever think that they are physical representations of spiritual truths, and what is important is to hold those spiritual truths? The point here is that, perhaps MORE traditional organizations should be doing a little mote/beam examination as to why sincere seekers are looking outside “Christianity” for purpose and community.

  • http://www.obedienttothelight.blogspot.com Linda Wilk

    Nate, thee speaks my mind. The Religious Society of Friends does not ever deny the sacraments given to us by Jesus. Rather, we experience them as a real and now-occurring event, of the indwelling Light of Christ. What we call this experience is not so important as the experience itself and what it leads us to do in the name of the Light in our daily lives.

    Bror, and others who are not members of the Religious Society of Friends, I would refer you to http://www.hallvworthington.com/sacraments.html
    where you can read directly George Fox’s dialogue with a Jesuit priest over the claim that Quakers denied the sacraments. Perhaps this will lend more understanding to the position of the Society of Friends.

    Liberal Friends do not differ on this from other branches of the Society. When we marry, come into membership, embark on a spiritual calling (similar to ordination as it is called in other denominations), or experience the direct moving of the Light in our lives in any way, it is sacramental, or consecrated by God. The confirmation of this we experience by the direct act of sitting in worship and waiting on the Light to speak through one of us or to direct our lives specifically.

    One way that we are primarily different from some of you who have commented here, is that we are most definitely focused on the inclusivity that Jesus modeled, or that other spiritual leaders model, no matter what their religion. We are focused on “that of God” in every person, no matter their creed, sexual orientation, religious belief, color, race, or culture.

    The love of God is big enough to encompass all of this and more. This is the only way to peace, in my understanding. We do not seek to water down our faith or accept cheap substitutions in order to draw members. We seek true conversation between all members of God’s creation on Earth, in the name of peace among us all.

  • http://www.obedienttothelight.blogspot.com Linda Wilk

    Nate, thee speaks my mind. The Religious Society of Friends does not ever deny the sacraments given to us by Jesus. Rather, we experience them as a real and now-occurring event, of the indwelling Light of Christ. What we call this experience is not so important as the experience itself and what it leads us to do in the name of the Light in our daily lives.

    Bror, and others who are not members of the Religious Society of Friends, I would refer you to http://www.hallvworthington.com/sacraments.html
    where you can read directly George Fox’s dialogue with a Jesuit priest over the claim that Quakers denied the sacraments. Perhaps this will lend more understanding to the position of the Society of Friends.

    Liberal Friends do not differ on this from other branches of the Society. When we marry, come into membership, embark on a spiritual calling (similar to ordination as it is called in other denominations), or experience the direct moving of the Light in our lives in any way, it is sacramental, or consecrated by God. The confirmation of this we experience by the direct act of sitting in worship and waiting on the Light to speak through one of us or to direct our lives specifically.

    One way that we are primarily different from some of you who have commented here, is that we are most definitely focused on the inclusivity that Jesus modeled, or that other spiritual leaders model, no matter what their religion. We are focused on “that of God” in every person, no matter their creed, sexual orientation, religious belief, color, race, or culture.

    The love of God is big enough to encompass all of this and more. This is the only way to peace, in my understanding. We do not seek to water down our faith or accept cheap substitutions in order to draw members. We seek true conversation between all members of God’s creation on Earth, in the name of peace among us all.

  • LAJ

    Who is the Light? Jesus is the Word. Without the Word of God, there are no Christians and there is no hope of heaven. God is light and He has chosen to reveal Himself to us throughtHis Word and through the divine sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. There is no light without the Word and sacraments as Jesus instituted them.

  • LAJ

    Who is the Light? Jesus is the Word. Without the Word of God, there are no Christians and there is no hope of heaven. God is light and He has chosen to reveal Himself to us throughtHis Word and through the divine sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. There is no light without the Word and sacraments as Jesus instituted them.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    No one is born with inner light, except Christ. Humanity by nature is only darkness. The only path to true light is by way of repentance away from all false spiritualities and trust in Christ’s atonement, His vicarious death and resurrection for you, to remove from you all sin and darkness and to cover you with His righteousness and light. Apart from Him, your and my light (if its only yours and not from Christ – darkness) will never be bright or holy enough to match or even withstand the extreme power of the glory of God. I cannot stand anywhere but upon Christ. Everywhere else I am doomed and so are you.

    “No one is righteous, no not one”

    “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

    “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “we have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us… …if we say, “We have not sinned,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

  • Bryan Lindemood

    No one is born with inner light, except Christ. Humanity by nature is only darkness. The only path to true light is by way of repentance away from all false spiritualities and trust in Christ’s atonement, His vicarious death and resurrection for you, to remove from you all sin and darkness and to cover you with His righteousness and light. Apart from Him, your and my light (if its only yours and not from Christ – darkness) will never be bright or holy enough to match or even withstand the extreme power of the glory of God. I cannot stand anywhere but upon Christ. Everywhere else I am doomed and so are you.

    “No one is righteous, no not one”

    “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

    “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “we have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us… …if we say, “We have not sinned,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

  • Paul

    John 1:9, which says, “That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
    God comes to us in the sacramental silence and
    transform us into his likeness.
    This is God’s work not are work.
    Paul

  • Paul

    John 1:9, which says, “That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
    God comes to us in the sacramental silence and
    transform us into his likeness.
    This is God’s work not are work.
    Paul

  • Bryan Lindemood

    There is no “sacramental silence”, Paul. It is only a sacrament that which God joins to His Word and promise of forgiveness.

    So that means that the only true sacramental presence of light is through sacramental noise. The noise of the promises of God in Christ attached to visible means, like water, bread, wine. God hides his glory and presents His almighty gifts to us only where He makes it okay.

    And that verse (John 1:9) is about the true Light, only Jesus Christ, coming into the world to give His light to every man (who is naturally born with only darkness). That’s why Jesus needed to humble Himself, become incarnate, even hiding His light, so that He would be killed, and completely extinguished, in your place. You need His light. Because of yourself, you have none. I’m pretty dim, too really, of myself.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    There is no “sacramental silence”, Paul. It is only a sacrament that which God joins to His Word and promise of forgiveness.

    So that means that the only true sacramental presence of light is through sacramental noise. The noise of the promises of God in Christ attached to visible means, like water, bread, wine. God hides his glory and presents His almighty gifts to us only where He makes it okay.

    And that verse (John 1:9) is about the true Light, only Jesus Christ, coming into the world to give His light to every man (who is naturally born with only darkness). That’s why Jesus needed to humble Himself, become incarnate, even hiding His light, so that He would be killed, and completely extinguished, in your place. You need His light. Because of yourself, you have none. I’m pretty dim, too really, of myself.

  • Paul

    Silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us and through us.
    Jesus is always waiting for us in silence. In that silence, He will listen to us; there He will speak to our soul, and there we will hear His voice.
    Mother Teresa

    Christ is encountered in, with, and under the
    silence of worship.
    This is sacramental, indeed.

  • Paul

    Silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us and through us.
    Jesus is always waiting for us in silence. In that silence, He will listen to us; there He will speak to our soul, and there we will hear His voice.
    Mother Teresa

    Christ is encountered in, with, and under the
    silence of worship.
    This is sacramental, indeed.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Just like he created us to be and teach, God cannot teach anything without words. Silence gives you exactly what it gives, nothing. The noise of words convey ideas and meaning much greater than silence. Through silence God says nothing to you or to me, Paul. What comes out of your heart is your own invention. ‘Fess up, man.

    Have you ever read the Sermon on the mount? Where’s the silence? Have you never read His 7 words from the cross – He speaks, He prays, He cries out in death – three days, later, He announces His resurrection. In all His appearances, He says something – through language. Listen to some good noise, Paul.

    Rest in silence and then fill your soul with the Light of God’s Word – sorry to have to break this to you. Its noisy. Worship is noise, He speaks to us and we respond. silence here and there for reflection, yes, but reflection upon what – the wonderfully comforting and noisy Word of God.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Just like he created us to be and teach, God cannot teach anything without words. Silence gives you exactly what it gives, nothing. The noise of words convey ideas and meaning much greater than silence. Through silence God says nothing to you or to me, Paul. What comes out of your heart is your own invention. ‘Fess up, man.

    Have you ever read the Sermon on the mount? Where’s the silence? Have you never read His 7 words from the cross – He speaks, He prays, He cries out in death – three days, later, He announces His resurrection. In all His appearances, He says something – through language. Listen to some good noise, Paul.

    Rest in silence and then fill your soul with the Light of God’s Word – sorry to have to break this to you. Its noisy. Worship is noise, He speaks to us and we respond. silence here and there for reflection, yes, but reflection upon what – the wonderfully comforting and noisy Word of God.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Paul, are there any children at your church? Just wondering.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Paul, are there any children at your church? Just wondering.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    It’s not clear to me where the scriptures speak to the benefits, let alone the sacramental nature, of silence. And, as we don’t rely on the sayings of Mother Teresa, it’s difficult to weigh her lovely thoughts over the spoken words of the Pastor, speaking Christ and the cross to me, for the forgiveness of my sins.
    I can’t remember the last time–or the first time!–I was enlightened by myself. Generally, left silent and thoughtful for too long during Divine Service, I tend to wonder about breakfast or why I haven’t trimmed my nails.
    The scriptures admonish us to hearken, not to navel-gaze. Fortunately–beneficially!–the liturgy of Divine Service provides the words of Our Lord, His apostles, prophets, and psalmists for me to hearken to.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    It’s not clear to me where the scriptures speak to the benefits, let alone the sacramental nature, of silence. And, as we don’t rely on the sayings of Mother Teresa, it’s difficult to weigh her lovely thoughts over the spoken words of the Pastor, speaking Christ and the cross to me, for the forgiveness of my sins.
    I can’t remember the last time–or the first time!–I was enlightened by myself. Generally, left silent and thoughtful for too long during Divine Service, I tend to wonder about breakfast or why I haven’t trimmed my nails.
    The scriptures admonish us to hearken, not to navel-gaze. Fortunately–beneficially!–the liturgy of Divine Service provides the words of Our Lord, His apostles, prophets, and psalmists for me to hearken to.

  • Bror Erickson

    Nate,
    Sorry, I don’t do much blogging on the weekends.
    But seriously, I’m to suspect that the closest friends of Jesus had it wrong When they said: “there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved”? Or the numerous other passages of scripture that make salvation exclusive to those alone who believe in Jesus Christ alone.
    Did I ever think of the sacraments as physical representations of spiritual truths? Hmmm, the thought has only been proposed to me more times than I can count in this protestant America. But quite frankly I don’t see scripture as describing them as representations at all. Did you ever think they might be exactly what God says they are?
    As for why many seekers don’t look at Christianity. It does sadden me. But the way is narrow.

  • Bror Erickson

    Nate,
    Sorry, I don’t do much blogging on the weekends.
    But seriously, I’m to suspect that the closest friends of Jesus had it wrong When they said: “there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved”? Or the numerous other passages of scripture that make salvation exclusive to those alone who believe in Jesus Christ alone.
    Did I ever think of the sacraments as physical representations of spiritual truths? Hmmm, the thought has only been proposed to me more times than I can count in this protestant America. But quite frankly I don’t see scripture as describing them as representations at all. Did you ever think they might be exactly what God says they are?
    As for why many seekers don’t look at Christianity. It does sadden me. But the way is narrow.

  • http://www.obedienttothelight.blogspot.com Linda Wilk

    Lamentations 3:25-29
    25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;

    26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the LORD.

    27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

    28 Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the LORD has laid it on him.

    29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.

    30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

    31 For men are not cast off
    by the Lord forever.

    32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.

    Perhaps what we Friends call sacramental is not what you would call sacramental, as it is our experience over centuries that has shown us the holy nature of silence.
    When we wait in silence, it is indeed not silent inwardly; as we quiet our outward thoughts and take respite from our daily lives, we open ourselves to the presence of God.

    My own words fail me in trying to help a person from another church understand what is notably foreign to you. I refer you to Brent Bill’s book “Holy Silence,” which could educate you far better than I could, if you are so inclined to learn. Also, you might visit his blog, Holy Ordinary: Quaker thoughts on life.

  • http://www.obedienttothelight.blogspot.com Linda Wilk

    Lamentations 3:25-29
    25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;

    26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the LORD.

    27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

    28 Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the LORD has laid it on him.

    29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.

    30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

    31 For men are not cast off
    by the Lord forever.

    32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.

    Perhaps what we Friends call sacramental is not what you would call sacramental, as it is our experience over centuries that has shown us the holy nature of silence.
    When we wait in silence, it is indeed not silent inwardly; as we quiet our outward thoughts and take respite from our daily lives, we open ourselves to the presence of God.

    My own words fail me in trying to help a person from another church understand what is notably foreign to you. I refer you to Brent Bill’s book “Holy Silence,” which could educate you far better than I could, if you are so inclined to learn. Also, you might visit his blog, Holy Ordinary: Quaker thoughts on life.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Linda,

    You are right. What you call sacramental is not what I call sacramental. For Lutheran Christians it is a sacrament if 1. God Himself began it; 2. God attaches His Word to a visible element (i.e. water, bread, wine); 3. And that Word includes the word of promise from God to forgive sins through the experience of the particular sacrament (i.e. Being baptized with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – see Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 2:38-39; Communing with Christ at His table where He serves His body and blood in, with, and under the bread and the wine – see Matthew 26:26-28).

    We believe that God actually delivers Himself and His promises and blessings to us through these ordinary means. That they are not just spiritual, but that God actually invades the physical for us whole creatures, so intent is He to actually touch us with His gifts.

    I prefer to seek the God who is outside of me, greater than me for truth. When I turn within (when not led by God’s Word of truth of the Bible) I find gods that harm me and others when I follow them rather than the God who sacrifices Himself to make me whole and lift me out of my self-centeredness.

    Inside my own inner silence is pride, lust, hatred, self-love, covetous desires, ingratitude, an insatiable hunger for cookies, and a deep thirst for expensive whiskey.

    It seems from your post above that your inner silence is somewhat informed by God’s Word. That’s good, but then its not silence anymore – there is noise with words (maybe even when we read to ourselves). Because of who I believe Jesus to be and what I know He did for me by His teaching, life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven I order my spiritual identity around Him, for He gave His identity to me when I was baptized and took away all my inner self-centeredness at the cross.

    This is a great-exchange which I would like you to look into, Linda (and you too, Paul, if you’re reading this post still). This exchange is not fair to God or to His Son Jesus, but it is what He did for you whether you believe it or not. History favors His real and historical resurrection from the dead. I find this a profoundly more real and comforting spirituality than any one that I have reached within myself for. It will fill you with things to be silent and meditate upon (as your quoted text above encourages) for your whole life, but it will also give you a spirituality which can fill every silence with good news and light of forgiveness and life and hush every din of death.

    The man’s whose blog this is has written an excellent book called “The Spirituality of the Cross”. I’ll promise to read “Holy Silence” if you promise to read Veith’s book. What do you say, Linda?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Linda,

    You are right. What you call sacramental is not what I call sacramental. For Lutheran Christians it is a sacrament if 1. God Himself began it; 2. God attaches His Word to a visible element (i.e. water, bread, wine); 3. And that Word includes the word of promise from God to forgive sins through the experience of the particular sacrament (i.e. Being baptized with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – see Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 2:38-39; Communing with Christ at His table where He serves His body and blood in, with, and under the bread and the wine – see Matthew 26:26-28).

    We believe that God actually delivers Himself and His promises and blessings to us through these ordinary means. That they are not just spiritual, but that God actually invades the physical for us whole creatures, so intent is He to actually touch us with His gifts.

    I prefer to seek the God who is outside of me, greater than me for truth. When I turn within (when not led by God’s Word of truth of the Bible) I find gods that harm me and others when I follow them rather than the God who sacrifices Himself to make me whole and lift me out of my self-centeredness.

    Inside my own inner silence is pride, lust, hatred, self-love, covetous desires, ingratitude, an insatiable hunger for cookies, and a deep thirst for expensive whiskey.

    It seems from your post above that your inner silence is somewhat informed by God’s Word. That’s good, but then its not silence anymore – there is noise with words (maybe even when we read to ourselves). Because of who I believe Jesus to be and what I know He did for me by His teaching, life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven I order my spiritual identity around Him, for He gave His identity to me when I was baptized and took away all my inner self-centeredness at the cross.

    This is a great-exchange which I would like you to look into, Linda (and you too, Paul, if you’re reading this post still). This exchange is not fair to God or to His Son Jesus, but it is what He did for you whether you believe it or not. History favors His real and historical resurrection from the dead. I find this a profoundly more real and comforting spirituality than any one that I have reached within myself for. It will fill you with things to be silent and meditate upon (as your quoted text above encourages) for your whole life, but it will also give you a spirituality which can fill every silence with good news and light of forgiveness and life and hush every din of death.

    The man’s whose blog this is has written an excellent book called “The Spirituality of the Cross”. I’ll promise to read “Holy Silence” if you promise to read Veith’s book. What do you say, Linda?

  • http://blog.billsamuel.net/ Bill Samuel

    I think the assumption that accepting Pagans is done as a Quaker strategy for church growth is totally offbase. It’s hard to believe the writer had much familiarity with the part of the Quaker spectrum that has done this.

    I was a Quaker for 4 decades, with much of that time spent among those who went down this path. It is a direction that probably has multiple causes, but church growth was certainly not much on the mind of these Friends.

    A lot of it is cultural factors. I suspect a part of it is that there is a certain God-given yearning for ritual which Quakers tried to deny. When Quakers had a very rich Christian community, they could live without the kind of ritual typically used in the Christian church, although they did have less liturgically obvious ritual (which generally they would deny). But many Quaker meetings today do not have that deep richness. Because the Quaker rejection of liturgy developed in a specifically Christian context, the acceptance of non-Christian liturgy can be easier than the acceptance of Christian liturgy.

    Some Friends churches now provide communion with the outward elements. This enrages many other Quakers, but personally I approve. I think it is far healthier than turning to pagan rituals.

    Note that there is a lot of speculation in these comments and I can’t prove what others’ motivations are. Note also that I resigned from Friends 3 years ago, and now go to an Emerging Church where we celebrate the Eucharist each worship service, and I often serve it.

  • http://blog.billsamuel.net/ Bill Samuel

    I think the assumption that accepting Pagans is done as a Quaker strategy for church growth is totally offbase. It’s hard to believe the writer had much familiarity with the part of the Quaker spectrum that has done this.

    I was a Quaker for 4 decades, with much of that time spent among those who went down this path. It is a direction that probably has multiple causes, but church growth was certainly not much on the mind of these Friends.

    A lot of it is cultural factors. I suspect a part of it is that there is a certain God-given yearning for ritual which Quakers tried to deny. When Quakers had a very rich Christian community, they could live without the kind of ritual typically used in the Christian church, although they did have less liturgically obvious ritual (which generally they would deny). But many Quaker meetings today do not have that deep richness. Because the Quaker rejection of liturgy developed in a specifically Christian context, the acceptance of non-Christian liturgy can be easier than the acceptance of Christian liturgy.

    Some Friends churches now provide communion with the outward elements. This enrages many other Quakers, but personally I approve. I think it is far healthier than turning to pagan rituals.

    Note that there is a lot of speculation in these comments and I can’t prove what others’ motivations are. Note also that I resigned from Friends 3 years ago, and now go to an Emerging Church where we celebrate the Eucharist each worship service, and I often serve it.

  • http://www.ncymc.org Craig

    I am a Conservative Quaker and would remind folks that Quakers are in many ways, similar to Lutherans or Baptists in their divisions. The branch to which I belong, North Carolina Yearly Meeting-Conservative, is still very much Christ-centered. Like early Friends, I believe that Quakerism is a return to primitive Christianity.

    The only branch of Friends that I know that would be openly welcoming of Pagans would be Friends General Conference. Even there, where there might be a growing openess to Paganism, there is also a growing movement to return to the Christiain roots of their faith. This can be seen in the multitude of blogs by FGC Quakers who are rediscovering Jesus.

    I grew up in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. My family hails from good old Tennessee Synod stock. I grew up with a Bible in one hand and a Book of Concord in the other. While I learned much in the LCMS, I can say that I never had a real relationship with Jesus. It was only after I met the Quakers that the Lord became real to me. What a joy there is in being able to hear the Still Small Voice without a mediator such as clergy or outward sacraments.

    As for the person who talked about obeying Jesus’ commands to keep the sacraments in an outward fashion, I would remind them that Jesus gave us LOTS of commands in the Gospels. One was to sell everything we have and give to the poor. Another was love our enemies (not kill them). Many of the commands Jesus gave can be found in Matthew 4, 5 and 6. Jesus asks us to change our hearts and our way of life and live a new life in the Kingdom of God. That is the ultimate goal of His teaching.

    When we redirect our will and our way toward the Light of Christ (the Light which dwelleth in every man), then we are truly His disciples. Church growth schemes don’t really ever seem to work whether that effort is rooted in contemporary worship, Ablaze or in welcoming pagans. When we trust God for growth, both spiritually and numerically, we will truly live in peace. It is He that draws all men unto himself and He alone.

  • http://www.ncymc.org Craig

    I am a Conservative Quaker and would remind folks that Quakers are in many ways, similar to Lutherans or Baptists in their divisions. The branch to which I belong, North Carolina Yearly Meeting-Conservative, is still very much Christ-centered. Like early Friends, I believe that Quakerism is a return to primitive Christianity.

    The only branch of Friends that I know that would be openly welcoming of Pagans would be Friends General Conference. Even there, where there might be a growing openess to Paganism, there is also a growing movement to return to the Christiain roots of their faith. This can be seen in the multitude of blogs by FGC Quakers who are rediscovering Jesus.

    I grew up in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. My family hails from good old Tennessee Synod stock. I grew up with a Bible in one hand and a Book of Concord in the other. While I learned much in the LCMS, I can say that I never had a real relationship with Jesus. It was only after I met the Quakers that the Lord became real to me. What a joy there is in being able to hear the Still Small Voice without a mediator such as clergy or outward sacraments.

    As for the person who talked about obeying Jesus’ commands to keep the sacraments in an outward fashion, I would remind them that Jesus gave us LOTS of commands in the Gospels. One was to sell everything we have and give to the poor. Another was love our enemies (not kill them). Many of the commands Jesus gave can be found in Matthew 4, 5 and 6. Jesus asks us to change our hearts and our way of life and live a new life in the Kingdom of God. That is the ultimate goal of His teaching.

    When we redirect our will and our way toward the Light of Christ (the Light which dwelleth in every man), then we are truly His disciples. Church growth schemes don’t really ever seem to work whether that effort is rooted in contemporary worship, Ablaze or in welcoming pagans. When we trust God for growth, both spiritually and numerically, we will truly live in peace. It is He that draws all men unto himself and He alone.


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