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 The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Here's some basic information on the RSOF. It may help some SI readers to understand better some of my posts. - bub

Our Christian Background

The origins of the Society are found in the seventeenth century in England, a time when many were questioning the established beliefs of the age. George Fox (1625-1691) did not find answers to his questions in any of the churches of his day. Out of his searching came the spiritual message which swept a large part of the country and which resulted in the formation of the Religious Society of Friends.

Friends witnessed to an Alternative Christianity quite distinct from the churches of the time. As a result they were persecuted both by Cromwell's Puritan government and by the restored government of Charles II. Fox did not intend to start a new sect. He wanted to persuade the church to return to what it had been in the days of the Apostles. He proclaimed the early preaching of Peter (Acts, chapter 2 and 3) that Jesus, who had been present in the flesh, had risen from the dead and was now come in the Spirit. That Jesus acted in the hearts of his followers purifying and empowering them.

Pursuing Peter's teaching, Fox called for a radical, egalitarian, spirit-filled Christianity that would not be oppressive of people on account of race, sex, or class. He maintained that the message of the early church had been lost when the church became institutionalized and believed that he, and others with him, could stand in exactly the same state as Apostles, with the same power to teach, to heal, and to prophesy that the Apostles had.

The Ministry of All Believers
George Fox challenged the belief of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches in the necessity for, and the authority of, a hierarchical structure of Priests and Bishops. He claimed that everyone was able to have a personal relationship with the living Jesus without having to depend on the intercessions of a Priest or Minister. He taught that there is one, Jesus Christ, who can speak to each person's condition and the responsibility for ministry therefore rested upon all.

The Place of the Bible
Friends hold that the words of the Bible should not be taken as the final revelation of God. The Books had been written by men who were acting under the power of the Holy Spirit and it was necessary to read the words in the power of the same spirit and to listen to what the Spirit then spoke in your heart. The words were active agents in the sense that, when read in the Spirit at the appropriate time, they would spring to life for the reader and take the reader forward on his or her spiritual journey.

The Light Within
George Fox preached the Good News that we were all children of God and that, as children of God, we had inherited powers from God. Each of us was given a measure of this power or light and in accordance with how we used it, so more would be given to us. Jesus had possessed this power or light, without measure so that he became the Light and the Light within is Jesus Christ.

The Inner Voice
Friends believe that if they wait silently upon God there will be times when God will speak to them in the heart. The silent Meeting of Friends is therefore the sacrament of communion with God during which Friends lay themselves open to the leading of the Spirit. George Fox often wrote about his ``openings'', meaning revelations and it has been the experience of Quakers over the centuries that ``openings'' will occur in the mind of that ``a way will open''.

Openings can come to individuals when they are alone or may come out of the silence of a gathered Meeting for Worship. It is a perennial question as to whether a leading comes from God, from one's own ego, or from another power and it is the practice in the Society of Friends to test a leading or a concern in a meeting with others.

When they meet for business Friends strive to obtain the ``sense of the meeting'' from those present before taking action for they recognize the light as a force which creates unity among all who respond to it or who ``answer it in one another''. It does not follow that a majority is always right; a prophetic role is a lonely one and, if a concern is deeply felt and continues to be raised, the Meeting will continue to hear it and may later come to recognize its validity.

Equality before God
From the beginning Friends gave women and men equal status, for the fact that we are all children of God bestowed an equality upon all. This concept led to the testimony that one person should not set himself above others through human honors and distinctions which were meaningless in the sight of God. From this came the Quaker practices of simple living, plain dress and plain speech.

The Inward and Outward Journeys
One of the most important messages that Quakers have to offer is that religion, or belief, is experiential. It is not just a matter of accepting words or practices but of experiencing God for oneself.

The fact that God is always present means that the whole of a person's life is sacramental; Friends affirm the need to practice the presence of God in all activity. It follows, therefore, that Friends emphasize the importance of combining the inward and outward journeys. To take the inward without the outward will lead to selfishness. You go inward to wait upon and receive the word and support of God and then take this out to action in the world. To take the outward journey without the inward leads to ``burn out'' because the essential support is not there to be called upon. The Inward/Outward Journey is the practical application of Jesus' summary of the Law: ``Love God and your neighbor as yourself.''

It is the inward/outward process that has led Friends into pioneering social action such as reforms of prisons, schools and mental institutions, improving conditions of employment, supporting refugees and others in need, providing an ambulance service in wartime and examining the consequences of proposed legislation.

The Peace Testimony
As a Peace Church, the Society of Friends has always played a leading part in opposing preparations for war. The Peace Testimony, which is a very important Quaker principle, arose out of the belief in the in-dwelling Light or ``that of God'' in people. If that of God was a reality within oneself it would be denying the inner Spirit to take up arms against another.
Quaker practice does not permit the overcoming of some persons by other persons but tends toward the integration of various points of view into a new and higher level, for they recognize the Light as a force which creates unity amongst all who respond to it or answer it in one another. In appealing to the Light within another we also appeal to the Light within ourselves; as a result, we may find that the other is right and we are wrong. The Light is a source of unity. Force may create a superficial unity but it cannot provide organic unity.

Quaker Practices
Over the years the practice of Quakerism has developed in different ways in different regions. Members of the Society have been affected by varying influences such as the greater awareness of Eastern religions, the growth of psychology and the development of scientific knowledge. Since the Society is non-creedal, the spectrum of belief held by Friends has widened and different opinions may be held in different places or cultures. When one considers the diversity in other denominations, the differences between Friends are less remarkable. Friends Meetings may be either unprogrammed or programmed, the latter normally being led by a pastor.

Friends and other Faiths
Quakers have always taught that the Light of Christ has been given to all people everywhere. They maintained that many persons who never heard the historic Christ have had experiential knowledge of the Christ within and would hold, with Paul, that the Eternal Christ was known before the historic Christ. However, Friends are prepared to receive insights from wheresoever they may come and agree that there are things to be learned from contact with other religions. Friends are therefore ready to dialogue with people of other faiths and to share with them insights from our respective inheritances. However, Quakerism remains rooted in the Christian faith and the centrality of Jesus is paramount, although his sovereignty is not unanimously upheld.

Summary
The Religious Society of Friends is an Alternative Christianity which emphasizes the personal experience of God in one's life. Quakers understand the necessity of first listening to God before working in the world. They affirm the equality of all people before God regardless of race, station in life, or sex and this belief leads them into a range of social concerns.
Being "Children of Light" they find recourse to violence intolerable. Quaker thought is both mystical (waiting upon God) and prophetic (speaking truth to power). Friends believe that God's revelation is still continuing, that God is not absent or unknowable but that we can find God ourselves and establish a living relationship thus being able to live in the world free from the burden and guilt of sin. It is the search for a closer relationship with God that is the Way.

Religious knowledge, like the appreciation of beauty, is not attained by a logical process of thought but by experience and feeling. Quakers maintain that the teaching of Jesus is a practical method for the guidance of the world today, that religion is concerned with the whole of life, and that, beyond a certain point, definition becomes a limitation.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Russell Nelson
Last modified: Fri Sep 15 14:36:23 EDT 2000

 2007/3/22 18:49
jordanamo
Member



Joined: 2006/11/23
Posts: 397


 Re: The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

I'm suspect of Quakerism. Their blatant disregard for theology does not go so well with me.

As with the Puritans though I haven't done enough reading into the Quakers (especially George Fox) to give a clear view.

However I do have much respect for them as a group and I would like to come to a Quaker meeting, however the only one that meets here in my city is an apparently liberal (theologically) one.

Jordan

 2007/3/22 19:05Profile
sermonindex
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Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 38304
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

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 Re:

Quote:
As with the Puritans though I haven't done enough reading into the Quakers (especially George Fox) to give a clear view.


Reading George Fox is the only way to go. There has been much deviation from his original experience with God and modern day quakerism overall is apostate. George Fox was a "holiness" preacher and believed in freedom from the power of sin. Modern day quakers will accept sin with the guise of "no partiality." Reading George Foxs works is time well spent. A good starting place is his journals.

[b]Autobiography of George Fox[/b]
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/fox_g/autobio.html


_________________
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2007/3/22 19:10Profile









 Re: Fox

Yes, I agree reading Fox is time well spent. Yet, almost all Quakers would cite John Woolman as the most influential and important Quaker.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Woolman

He compelled members of the RSOF to reject slavery completely, which set the course for its abolition in the United States.

Bub

 2007/3/22 19:23









 Re: The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Quote:
Summary
The Religious Society of Friends is an Alternative Christianity which emphasizes the personal experience of God in one's life. Quakers understand the necessity of first listening to God before working in the world. They affirm the equality of all people before God regardless of race, station in life, or sex and this belief leads them into a range of social concerns.
Being "Children of Light" they find recourse to violence intolerable. Quaker thought is both mystical (waiting upon God) and prophetic (speaking truth to power). Friends believe that God's revelation is still continuing, that God is not absent or unknowable but that we can find God ourselves and establish a living relationship thus being able to live in the world free from the burden and guilt of sin. It is the search for a closer relationship with God that is the Way.

Religious knowledge, like the appreciation of beauty, is not attained by a logical process of thought but by experience and feeling. Quakers maintain that the teaching of Jesus is a practical method for the guidance of the world today, that religion is concerned with the whole of life, and that, beyond a certain point, definition becomes a limitation.


Hi again Bubba

I do begin to understand where you are coming from. Which makes the things I said in the pm even more important that you should take note of them.

The Bible is like a reliable and accurate road map (or in these modern times maybe a gps system?) If you already know the Way really well you can perhaps manage without the Map for some of the time, but the journey is long, and there are many hazards on the road. Sometimes mists come down, especially at night, and there are often no clear guiding lines or lights on the road itself.

And sometimes false, misleading lights, road signs, deep pits and other hazards have been put in place by enemies of the Road Maker, the Author of the Map.

It is foolish to travel without referring to the Map, which gives instruction, not only of the right direction, (especially at confusing places on the Road), but also of Enemy camps, and of areas where there are steep hills, overhanging cliffs, sharp bends, frequent fog or other hazards.

It is just as foolish to spend hours studying and discussing the Map with others, listening to experts who have studied the Map for years, and yet never setting out on the journey described in the map.

I think you see what I'm saying?

In Him who is the Way

jeannette

 2007/3/22 19:28









 Re:

Jeannette,

The primary difference the RSOF has with programmed worship and Biblical certitude is that they can interfere with continuing revelation from God. For instance, lots of uppity Quaker women have received from God leadings to ignore such passages as this one from Corinthians.


35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Many of them have changed the world for the better. I'll post a few links on some of these ladies soon.

Bub

 2007/3/23 14:36









 Re:

Quote:

bubbaguy wrote:
Jeannette,

The primary difference the RSOF has with programmed worship and Biblical certitude is that they can interfere with continuing revelation from God. For instance, lots of uppity Quaker women have received from God leadings to ignore such passages as this one from Corinthians.

35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Many of them have changed the world for the better. I'll post a few links on some of these ladies soon.

Bub


I do hope you are joking in this post!

I'm not married so am forced, when in doubt, to ask a leader I respect, or the Lord directly :-P

Any revelation claimed to be from God has to agree with the [i]essential "substance" of revealed Truth in Scripture[/i]. Otherwise it is suspect.

As someone said about counterfeit notes. The more you study the real thing the more likely you are to recognise and reject counterfeit. Not bothering to study the real thing makes the wisest person vulnerable to being deceived by the counterfeit.

That's why the early Church (most of whom were originally Jews, steeped in the OT scriptures) rejected many "apocryphal" books, because (either in message or spirit or both) they went against the Word they already had.

Love in Him

Jeannette

 2007/3/23 16:33









 Re:

Jean, I am not joking. Here is a book about the women i mentioned.

http://www.amazon.com/Mothers-Feminism-Story-Quaker-America/dp/0062500430



check it out, note that the review states that: "Contemporary Quaker women, nurtured in the tradition of sexual equality and egalitarian marriage, are at odds with radical feminism, Bacon maintains, but resilient in coping with change."


Bub

 2007/3/23 17:12
sermonindex
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Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 38304
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 Re:

Quote:
check it out, note that the review states that: "Contemporary Quaker women, nurtured in the tradition of sexual equality and egalitarian marriage, are at odds with radical feminism, Bacon maintains, but resilient in coping with change."


Modern day quakerism is apostate. I tryed to get that across in my other thread. It is a den of demons and is embracing homosexuality, feminism, new age and all other sorts of evil. There is no preaching of the gospel in any quaker fellowship except for a few small ones. I would veer clear from this movement and its modern day writings.

Bubba, have you repented of your sins and your sinful lifestyle? Has God given you a freedom over sin? Do you hate sin as God hates it in the bible? Do you believe in a literal hell where people will be forever in anguish and torment?

There is much leaven in the things you are saying and promoting. I am concerned.


_________________
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2007/3/23 17:17Profile









 Re:

SermonIndex,

I, too, am concerned. First, I want to address your statements regarding the RSOF. The RSOF has a largely decentralized decision-making structure and all decision of Monthly Meetings are made independently and by consensus process. So, yes, there are a few Monthly Meetings in the country that have condoned and conducted same-sex marriages among their own membership, as they, independently of the rest of the RSOF, have come to a consensus amongst their own members.

Some Meetings tend to be Quiet in nature; other are described as "popcorn" meetings" with many people sharing vocal ministry.

The only thing that all Quakers hold in common is that we all believe that there is "that of God" in everyperson. and that we are to live our lives seeking out that of God in each other.

I hope this serves to put some of Sermon Index's comments into proper context.

The other thing that I would mention is historic outcomes and effectiveness in carrying out the directives of Christ. Because Friends have refused to bear arms, they have served in all wars as medics, ambulance drives, etc. they have been people like my good friend Tom Fox, who recently died in Iraq.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Fox_(activist)


in the end, that some Quakers consent to same-sex marriages concerns me far less than those Christians who agree to take up arms.

Bub

 2007/3/23 17:42





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