Saturday, August 15, 2009


In the past few days, I have been hearing some rumblings again from Quakers online about whether Quakers are (or ought to be) Christians. These arguments make me sad and tired. Sad because I can see Friends taking defensive positions and starting to see each other as "us" and "them." Sad because I have friends on both sides of this divide and I don't want anyone to get hurt. Tired because this seems like a fight without end.

One of the things that was most difficult for me when I visited Northwest Yearly Meeting was how easily Friends there exchanged the names Christ and Jesus. I consider myself to be a Christ-centered Friend. I am trying to make the living Christ the center of my life, some days more successfully than others.

I also take the words of Jesus very seriously. But when I pray, I don't pray to Jesus. And when God speaks to me, it usually is not through Jesus. I have a lot of respect for Jesus, but the aspect of God that I have a personal, day to day relationship with is the Holy Spirit. She is the one I talk to, the one I fight against, and the one who holds me in her arms when I don't have the energy to fight anymore.

The verse that came to me while I was thinking about this was "no man comes to the father but by me." It is a verse I have seen used as a weapon, against those who claim to have faith but do not declare Jesus as their lord and savior. But when I looked it up, the verse spoke to me in a different way.
Jesus said, "Don't bicker among yourselves over me. You're not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that's the only way you'll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, 'And then they will all be personally taught by God.' Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. (John 6:43-46.)
Of course, after Jesus said this, the people Jesus was talking to went back to fighting among themselves.

I think these words are for us as much as the Jews 2,000 years ago. We need to not waste time arguing over who Jesus is. We are not in charge here, God is. Only God can draw people to God and those people will be personally taught by God.

Our job is to listen to what God is teaching us.


  1. I have no idea what the "Christian or not" conflict is within the Quakers (and clearly your goal was not to reiterate any grievances) . . . but I liked reading your thoughts here. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Your post "speaks my mind." I think of the Spirit of Christ as present in Jesus and in people of the present day, as well as with the prophets of old. "Just as I am in the Father and the Father is in me, so shall I be in you and you in me." I do not see a distinction between God/Spirit of Christ and the Inward Light/That of God in everyone.

  3. Chris - Thanks for commenting! I always worry when I address Quaker-specific topics that my blog will lack value for anyone outside Quakerism. I am glad you liked reading my thoughts.

    Tom - Thank you. God is so much greater (bigger, smaller, able) than we sometimes give God credit for!

    Queery - Lovely to see you here, as always.

  4. Thanks so much for putting this so clearly. I have been getting worried about the appearance of entrenched positions too as I believe that listening with our hearts and respectfully to those with different approaches to the spiritual path is really helpful to all concerned.

  5. Gil - I hope that if we all speak from our own experiences, we will be able to hear the truth in what each person is saying. Thanks for listening to me.

  6. One of the major turning points in my spiritual life was when an Episcopal priest said in a sermon essentially that the "no man" had been used so long EXclusively, but that he believed that it was intended INclusively; that people came to the Father through the Way that Jesus embodied whether they had heard of Jesus or not. When I saw "the Doctrine of the Light" I recognized it immediately.


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