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Source: (consider it) Thread: Quakers and Christianity
Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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I know we have had this before, but a disccusion with Exclamation Mark in Heaven has raised it again.

quote:
I don't find them as "Christian" as any other church. Why?
- non Trinitarian (not accepting the historic creeds common to Christian Churches)
- plural view of Salvation. Christ for them is not the only way (not accepting the historical praxis and tradition common to Christian Churches)

Nice people and all that. It's possible of course that I may though have been unfortunate in my experiences with Quakers, albeit across in the UK in various different settings.

Now I fully accept that my perception has also been biased, especially as I have not had a wide engagement with Quakerism across the county.

So Quakers don't accept the creeds. We don't accept any creeds, anything that states a formula that we much believe. But I suspect that many Quakers believe the creeds as much as any other church congregation - it is just that we don't officially embrace them.

This is the point - my original point. The point I made that that I think the Quakers are as Christian as any other church.

I suppose I was reminded this last week of the Sea of Faith movement - started by an Anglican Priest, and rejecting the divine entirely. Who argue for religion as a human creation. We have David Boultons doughter in our group (he is a writer well known within this group), and she distances herself from his position.

The problem is, I don't think we can define Christianity in a formal way, in a way that any denomination can be considered to be entirely included. More, I am not sure that this is valid (but, of course, I might not be a real Christian) - why do we need to define this, externally?

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simontoad
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I respect your theological position. It has plenty of support. I don't like engaging in 'in or out' discussions around borders, unless I'm feeling like an arse and I want to attack someone.

I kept away from the Quakers at the time that I was thinking about going to church again, but I did go to their website. I stayed away because I wanted boundaries for myself at that time.

As it turns out, I now identify as both Catholic and Anglican, a Cathlican or an Anglic, but not an Anglo-Catholic, much as I love bells and smells. So theological purity is not something I can criticise others for.

If I was asked a question like this at a social engagement and I was behaving nicely that day, I believe I would offer the enquirer a piece of Mrs Doyle's cake [Smile]

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Human

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cliffdweller
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Here in the US (or at least my part of it) we have more-or-less well defined distinction between "evangelical Quakers" and "liberal Quakers"-- is that not a common distinction in the UK? Evangelical Quakers here hold very traditional evangelical views, while still non-creedal (as noted above, the fact that they don't recite the creeds is not indicative of not believing the things written in the creeds) and non-sacramental.

Evangelical Quakers are one of a couple of Wesleyan traditions that are considered part of the "DNA" of the evangelical univ where I teach. We have many Quakers among our theology faculty and have a very large collection of Quaker research materials in our theological library.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
Here in the US (or at least my part of it) we have more-or-less well defined distinction between "evangelical Quakers" and "liberal Quakers"-- is that not a common distinction in the UK?

The basic answer is no.

In the USA there are essentially three groups of Quakers:

Liberal - which can include people who are non-theists (or any other kind of theism). Most liberals are in the Friends General Conference.

Pastoral/Evangelical: are often not much different to other evangelicals and have pastors and programmed services. Often part of the Friends United Meeting or Evangelical Friends Church International.

Conservative Quakers - sometimes but not always dress simply (which can mean more-or-less like the typical image of Amish), stick fairly rigidly to the traditional understanding of Quakerism as defined by Fox and the other early Quakers.

There are also others who are involved in a Quaker reform movement, which often seems to suggest going back to the roots of Quakerism for young people and often seems to include a more significant emphasis on the deity of Christ and becoming generally more Christian as we might recognise it.

--

This is of course an exaggeration, there are various other permutations and complications in North America.

--

In the UK there is basically just one group of Quakers - the British Yearly Meeting.

I understand that there are sometimes elements of the other groups as found in North America that are reflected within British Quakers, and the BYM generally tries to support individuals and individual meetings as they find their own direction, but I think it is fair to say that the thrust of the organisation is liberal. As an indication of this, the Quakers were as a group the first to offer equal marriage services.

I don't think there are planned meetings (or at least not any which could be mistaken for an Evangelical church) within the BYM or paid pastors.

There are a very small number of Quakers who exist in Britain outside of the BYM, but they're generally Conservative But Not Evangelical.

I don't think there are many/any meetings which could really be described as Evangelical Quakers in the UK in the sense that it would be understood in the USA.

[ 28. October 2017, 15:50: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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My feeling on this is that - whatever Quakers, "liberal" Episcopalians or whoever may think - there is a basic content to Christianity which one cannot ignore if one is to say "We are Christian". I agree that not all groups state it formally in creeds (though I think they can be helpful), I accept that there may be wildly different interpretations, I know that some will say "this bit is crucial" while others will say "no, it's not". Nevertheless there is surely some basic minimum belief required for those who call themselves Christians.

At the risk of sounding rather narky or even patronising, it does seem to me that there are some Friends (not the originator of this thread!) who seem to have a quite rigid creed which declares, "Our belief is not to have any fixed beliefs". Yet IMO that itself is as constraining as some of the "classic" creeds.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I don't think there are many/any meetings which could really be described as Evangelical Quakers in the UK in the sense that it would be understood in the USA.

Although I have met people in the UK who explicitly describe themselves as "Christian Quakers".
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:

This is the point - my original point. The point I made that that I think the Quakers are as Christian as any other church.

I don't know - this is quite a problematic idea. If there is nothing which is held in common amongst a religion, in what sense can all members be said to belong to it?

It seems to me to be a simpler explanation that there are people who belong to various Christian groups who aren't Christians.

And there are people who belong to groups which are not specifically Christian - including Quakers, Unitarians and others - but who are Christians. I don't think there is any shame in being a Christian within a group which isn't a Christian church.

quote:
I suppose I was reminded this last week of the Sea of Faith movement - started by an Anglican Priest, and rejecting the divine entirely. Who argue for religion as a human creation. We have David Boultons doughter in our group (he is a writer well known within this group), and she distances herself from his position.
It is hard to say that Sea of Faith is Christian. I can't see any way that it can be described as Christian. And a vicar who denied the divine - according to the discipline of the Church of England - should have been defrocked.

Harsh, perhaps, but the CofE tends to think that a belief in a deity is a pre-requisite requirement for being a priest.

quote:
The problem is, I don't think we can define Christianity in a formal way, in a way that any denomination can be considered to be entirely included. More, I am not sure that this is valid (but, of course, I might not be a real Christian) - why do we need to define this, externally?
Well y'know, I have some sympathy with this. I think Christianity is about the individual, so it is essentially impossible to talk about a group or country or anything else being Christian.

But, that said, it seems fair for others who have defined Christianity in a particular (and generally basic - ie needing to believe in a single deity) way to look at the Quakers and say "hold on, there is no requirement to believe in a deity to be a Quaker - therefore it is hard to see how the Quakers are any more a Christian group than a scrabble club".

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arse

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Although I have met people in the UK who explicitly describe themselves as "Christian Quakers".

Yes. This is the difference I'm trying to get across: in North America one can go to a self-identifying "Christian" Quaker group.

In the UK attendance at a BYM does not imply any belief in Christianity. People who are Christians are Quakers but not all British Quakers are Christians.

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arse

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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
In the UK attendance at a BYM does not imply any belief in Christianity. People who are Christians are Quakers but not all British Quakers are Christians.

But surely the same could be said of any other denomination? Are all Anglicans Christians? How do you define Christian in a way that doesn't immediately define the answer to this?

quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan: Although I have met people in the UK who explicitly describe themselves as "Christian Quakers".
I know that there are some in my meeting who would not be happy defining themselves as Christian, whereas I would. But we are all seeking truth, and that truth is (broadly speaking) Christian.

Oh, and yes, some Quakers are arseholes. In that we don't actually differ from any other religious group either.

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sabine
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Meetings typically do not require a faith statement as a prerequisite to joining. One is likely to find various beliefs in Quaker Meetings. Some Friends,like myself, are not Christians, but have membership in a Meeting with many Christian members. It's not always easy to find a Meeting that perfectly suits one's belief set, and, for the most part, there is room in Quaker faith and practice for those with various beliefs to be in community.

Also, there are at least 4-5 different branches of Quakers in the US (see below). To conflate, say, FUM and EFI misses the point of the historical divergence of those two entities.

"Many yearly meetings are part of a larger grouping of Friends. These include:

Evangelical Friends Church International
Friends General Conference
Friends United Meeting
Holiness Friends (one yearly meeting in the US with links to some groups in Bolivia)
Wider Fellowship of Conservative Friends"


http://fwccamericas.org/connections/explore-quakerism.shtml

Also, to argue, as a blanket statement, that Quakers are or are not Christian imposes on the Quaker way a homogeneity that is not part of how we identify.

sabine

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sabine
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Darn, missed edit window.


Re: historical divergence of Quaker groups in the US....they were primarily over issues of belief. But in this day and age, and with so few Meetings to choose from ( in a large country with sometimes great distance between Meetings), one usually finds that community is enacted in Meetings with a looser adherence to specific beliefs than that which caused the split in the first place.

Living the Quaker Way is often as (or more) important in Meeting community than whether one is or is not Christian.

sabine

[ 28. October 2017, 17:55: Message edited by: sabine ]

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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by sabine:
Living the Quaker Way is often as (or more) important in Meeting community than whether one is or is not Christian.

sabine

I suppose I see it that the Quaker Way can largely be seen as the expression of a Christian faith. I can totally understnad why people would not want to identify as Christian, but actual behave and act in ways that are in accordance with a Chrsitian faith.

At the same time, I can see that if you live in accordance to Quaker principles, you can do that for other reasons, so you would not naturally identify this activity as Christian. But then, acting in a Christian way, whether or not you subscribe to the belief basis that there is a divinity, that Jesus came to save us.

I suppose I see that the Quaker way is totally compatible with a Christian life, and for many (including me) it is an approach to living the Christian life not unlike a monastic routine. Except totally different.

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sabine
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat
quote:
Originally posted by sabine:
Living the Quaker Way is often as (or more) important in Meeting community than whether one is or is not Christian.

sabine

I suppose I see it that the Quaker Way can largely be seen as the expression of a Christian faith.
Except when it's not. [Smile] I mean this on a personal level (I see your paragraph below)

quote:
I can totally understnad why people would not want to identify as Christian, but actual behave and act in ways that are in accordance with a Chrsitian faith.
That's the part that confuses some people. Who others perceive a person to be based on outward behavior is not necessarily who that person sees him/herself to be or actually is.

quote:
At the same time, I can see that if you live in accordance to Quaker principles, you can do that for other reasons, so you would not naturally identify this activity as Christian. But then, acting in a Christian way, whether or not you subscribe to the belief basis that there is a divinity, that Jesus came to save us.

I suppose I see that the Quaker way is totally compatible with a Christian life, and for many (including me) it is an approach to living the Christian life not unlike a monastic routine. Except totally different.

So very well put. Especially the "totally different" part. [Smile]

In the end, I think it's not so much how we are labeled by the world at large but how we see ourselves in the expression of faith. As you mention for yourself Quaker life is compatible (and perhaps an expression of) Christian Life. I agree. But I also see it as compatible with and an expression of my belief in God outside of Christianity.

Going back to a "no more or no less" comment you made earlier in the thread....putting things into categories is a human trait, but just as human is the spectrum within each category. This tends to make some uncomfortable because it is a nuance to the urge to organize.

sabine

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keibat
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In the UK & Ireland, and among the British/Irish expat community, I have met both Quakers who, while rejecting the formality of creeds, are nonetheless fairly clearly within a broad traditional understanding of Christianity, as well as Quakers who state, explicitly, that they are 'non-Christocentric'.

I agree with other shipmates that there is essentially no 'Evangelical Quaker' orientation in the UK & Ireland as that has developed in the USA; the non-plannedness of Meetings for Worship is, as far as I have ever seen, a fundamental and unshaken principle.

In trying to explain The Society of Friends to my Nordic students, who had usually hardly even heard of them, my thumbnail portrait was that on each of the three great parameters of challenge and dissent that constituted the Western Reformation – norms of theology (esp. re salvation and the sacraments), norms of ecclesial authority, and norms of worship – the Friends went that radical step further than all the other major groupings in rejecting all the traditional answers.

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sabine
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You might send your Nordic students to the Swedish Quaker website. www.kvakare.se and see if any if it makes sense. I'm of Swedish descent, and my fellow Swedes tell me there is a good number there (although nothing like the UK an d US.

sabine

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hatless

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The Quakers are a member of Churches Together in England.

I think a family resemblance might be a good way to describe Christians and Churches. Any two might have few points in common, but any one will have a significant overlap with at least a few other members of the family. Most of the members will share many points of resemblance.

The paragraph in the OP saying that Quakers might believe most of the contents of the creeds, but won’t be told that they must believe them, is equally true of Baptists in the UK - or at least, it used to be.

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Golden Key
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There are Quakers who identify as Pagan.

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Garasu
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There are Anglicans who identify as pagan (and witches who say that if only the Roman Catholic Church was really like it's described in Andrew Greeley's novels they'd be Roman Catholic). Individuals shouldn't really be the issue.

And there are some evangelicals who claim to follow Christ but describe him in such a way that he is more nearly Mithras. If we're going to play "you're not really Christian" we may none of us be entirely safe...

And Britain Yearly Meeting does have a corporate statement of faith: Quaker faith and practice. There is some pressure for a revised text and it will be interesting (to me, at least) how (if it happens) that plays out.

Bevan and Schroeder suggest that there are half a dozen questions that Christians in different times and places have answered differently but have nonetheless continued to ask. Corporately, I think British Quakers continue to ask them as well even if there are (numerous) individuals for whom some of them no longer seem relevant.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

But, that said, it seems fair for others who have defined Christianity in a particular (and generally basic - ie needing to believe in a single deity) way to look at the Quakers and say "hold on, there is no requirement to believe in a deity to be a Quaker - therefore it is hard to see how the Quakers are any more a Christian group than a scrabble club".

My problem is that I don't like questions that are proxies for other questions.

If one wants to argue that the divinity of Christ is important, then the question to ask is 'Is the divinity of Christ important?' Asking instead 'Are Quakers Christians if they don't affirm the divinity of Christ?' leads to offence and arguments over semantics without actually addressing the underlying reason for asking the question.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The paragraph in the OP saying that Quakers might believe most of the contents of the creeds, but won’t be told that they must believe them, is equally true of Baptists in the UK - or at least, it used to be.

Historically true of Baptists (although we do have the "Declaration of Principle"), however ISTM that more and more Baptist churches are adopting detailed Statements of Faith.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
My problem is that I don't like questions that are proxies for other questions.

If one wants to argue that the divinity of Christ is important, then the question to ask is 'Is the divinity of Christ important?' Asking instead 'Are Quakers Christians if they don't affirm the divinity of Christ?' leads to offence and arguments over semantics without actually addressing the underlying reason for asking the question.

Well that's fair I suppose.

The problem is that people have always defined themselves by who they are like or not like.

I was reading yesterday about a group of Quakers who were excluded from the community during the American Revolution - because they felt that it was important to fight rather than continue with the historic peace witness.

And Quakers over the years have done particularly well at excluding people or groups who haven't toed the party line*. And who they're not like in apparently small ways. I think I remember that British Quakers regularly excluded people because they decided not to follow their beliefs on marriage ethics.


OK, so the current Quakers don't like to be defined and therefore allow a wide range of views. It wasn't always like that.

* which isn't any different to any other religious group really, but adds a bit of context to the idea that the Quakers as we see them today were always that way.

[ 29. October 2017, 08:30: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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arse

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Garasu:
There are Anglicans who identify as pagan (and witches who say that if only the Roman Catholic Church was really like it's described in Andrew Greeley's novels they'd be Roman Catholic). Individuals shouldn't really be the issue. ...

There may be, but the official position isn't 'that's OK', any more than the official position endorses those that say they don't really believe but like churches to be there for the architecture, the music or a vaguely warm feeling it gives them at Christmas.

The official position is founded in the scriptures, the Historic Creeds, the 39 Articles etc. Those unanimously affirm belief in Jesus Christ as Son of God. We welcome people who say they have difficulty committing themselves to full belief because we hope that they will move towards that rather than away from it.

I'd be a lot more uncomfortable though about a person who claimed they were CofE but was secretly nipping off to perform sacrifices in the nude on some blasted heath at the new moon.

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Schroedinger's cat

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But the problem is that definitions of "orthodoxy" are usually defined and maintained by churches who then conform to them.

One could argue that a church that embraces those who believe women should not be in a place of leadership, and explicitly discriminates against homosexuals is not Christian, becasue Jesus message was all for the minorities, for the oppressed.

Which would exclude the CofE. It is all about interpretation.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
But the problem is that definitions of "orthodoxy" are usually defined and maintained by churches who then conform to them.

One could argue that a church that embraces those who believe women should not be in a place of leadership, and explicitly discriminates against homosexuals is not Christian, becasue Jesus message was all for the minorities, for the oppressed.

Which would exclude the CofE. It is all about interpretation.

Explain to me why you would want to be with a group (say Churches Together) which doesn't recognise you as a Christian church.

What's the big deal? If you don't have a creed, don't believe in the idea of a creed - why do you then care whether other people put you in a box. Feck 'em.

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sabine
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The issues of Quakers excluding people for fighting in wars or marrying out is really old history. The idea of doing so is now considered not Quakerly by most Meetings. And yes, I know people who are not Friends but who have heard of an exception may well respond with an anecdote. However, from the inside, I can say that it isn't what might be considered right ordering.

And it is not accurate to say "Quakers believe" when there is such a large pool of beliefs among Friends. We have ways of doing things but even those are more like common traditions than beliefs.

It's sometimes hard to see the internal logic of a group one does not belong to. And it's even harder to explain that internal logic if there isn't a shared pov. I think the best way to learn about Friends is to attend Meeting for Worship (more than once) and also experience the life of the Meeting in other ways. But, unfortunately, that's a big ethnographic commitment.


sabine

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sabine
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Oops. Fell into some Quaker lingo in my last post. "Right ordering" generally refers to things that reflect our traditional practices.

sabine

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
But the problem is that definitions of "orthodoxy" are usually defined and maintained by churches who then conform to them.

One could argue that a church that embraces those who believe women should not be in a place of leadership, and explicitly discriminates against homosexuals is not Christian, becasue Jesus message was all for the minorities, for the oppressed.

Which would exclude the CofE. It is all about interpretation.

Explain to me why you would want to be with a group (say Churches Together) which doesn't recognise you as a Christian church.

What's the big deal? If you don't have a creed, don't believe in the idea of a creed - why do you then care whether other people put you in a box. Feck 'em.

The membership of CTE has grown from about sixteen when it started to forty three today. Churches and denominations obviously like to join. It’s not a love of being in a box but of connection and dialogue with others.

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Baptist Trainfan
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The CTE basis of faith starts, “Churches Together in England unites in pilgrimage those Churches in England which, acknowledging God’s revelation in Christ, confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures, and, in obedience to God’s will and in the power of the Holy Spirit commit themselves ...”

However I notice that it now also includes the phrases: “All CTE Member Churches accept this Basis though an exception is made for 'any Church or Association of Churches which on principle has no credal statements in its tradition and therefore cannot formally subscribe to the statement of faith in the Basis provided it satisfies 75% in number of those full members which subscribe to the Basis that it manifests faith in Christ as witnessed to in the Scriptures and it is committed to the aims and purposes of Churches Together in England and that it will work in the spirit of the Basis'. The Religious Society of Friends is a member of CTE under this clause”.

Make of that what you will!

[ 29. October 2017, 13:28: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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keibat
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Re Sabine's comment umpteen posts back that
quote:
You might send your Nordic students to the Swedish Quaker website...
Finns don't necessarily read Swedish comfortably – though I note that the website has pages in English as well. I've stayed at Svartbacken myself. But to put my own comment in context, I was trying to explain the Reformation to (predominantly) post-Lutheran Nordics.

The historical dimension is surely extremely important here. There seems to have been a really major shift in cultural behaviour, as opposed to fundamental principles, in (British) Quakerism ... I'm guessing, 2nd-half C19-early C20? ... away from behaving and being perceived as a dissident sect to behaving and being perceived as very well-meaning if somewhat eccentric. Friends on the thread, does that seem moderately fair?

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keibat
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PS: I went back to the Swedish website and – sadly – the page in English only explains something about the history of Friends in Sweden; the Swedish page 'Vilka vi är' [What we are] has not been translated.

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keibat from the finnish north and the lincs east rim

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I think hatless sort of has my point. I don't really give a crap about a group that doesn't want me or doesn't acknowledge me as a Christian.

But I think to exclude the group that I am part of means that my broad approach to faith is being excluded. It means that Quaker Christians are being rejected, and our approach to faith is being dismissed. Dismiss me if you want, but do it after talking to me, not by excluding my view.

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hatless

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Quakers made a strong contribution to some of the more socially conscious forms of industrial development, such as the Cadburys in Bournville, and the Rowntrees in York. Elizabeth Fry is noted for prison reform, and Quakers’ commitment to forms of pacifism is impressive. Eddington the physicist is worth a mention. The Retreat, pioneering psychiatric hospital in York deserves a mention. Donald Swann can maybe counterbalance Tricky Dickie.

And then there are the extraordinary, perhaps exaggerated, stories about George Fox.

There is a Quaker style or way which we would be much poorer without.

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cliffdweller
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Don't forget abolitionist John Woolman in the US. Thru his efforts, slavery was abolished among Quakers in the US 100 yrs before the Civil War. The Quakers were also the only group that repaid their freed slaves for their stolen labor

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sabine
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Nobel Peace Prize 1947, American Friends Service Committee.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:


1. I think hatless sort of has my point. I don't really give a crap about a group that doesn't want me or doesn't acknowledge me as a Christian.

2. But I think to exclude the group that I am part of means that my broad approach to faith is being excluded. It means that Quaker Christians are being rejected, and our approach to faith is being dismissed. Dismiss me if you want, but do it after talking to me, not by excluding my view.

I can see what you are saying and have sympathy with your views. It doesn't run, though, for me - as I don't recognise the Quaker groups I know/have known in your description. It will reflect my own prejudices of course but there is evidence on which my opinions are based and interpreted in the light of direct experience.

1. I can't see that Quakers are excluded on a "don't want you" basis. Being really picky, any group can self exclude if they don't belong in the sense of accepting the core principles. On a national level 75% of Quakers may accept the central part of CTE's constitution - the revelation of Christ as unique saviour - but I have two issues here:
- the 75% is reflected in an historical position. Many have moved since in all denominations
- that may be true nationally but locally that isn't the case from the evidence on the ground. That's not just here but every locality I've been part of interchurch working.

In one town, Quaker influence directly prevented any joint outreach events taking place. A place of great need, in the bottom 10% of deprivation. For all their claims on social justice, the Quakers did nothing at all on their doorstep in the town yet supported causes elsewhere in the world. In the long run that attitude led to a breakdown in inter church relationships.

2. Exclusion does not mean that that approach to faith is not being rejected. At the very worst end it means that the group self excludes or is not prepared to work within a jointly agreed framework.

At best (and this is the usual case), there is dialogue and listening but the accommodation required to find common ground in a specific location is just too great for the wider body to accept. It's not the approach but the belief: Quaker faith and practice demonstrates that there is a creedal system, even if it is not acknowledged and even if it says "we have no creeds".

An example: a CTE group reviews its constitution. 95% of churches and members agree to the changes. The Quakers refuse/reject on the basis of being non creedal and of the implied uniqueness of Christ in salvation: either the Quakers are excluded in a new group or we stay as we are and accept that the reservations on creeds hold the day. Answer please?

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Quakers made a strong contribution to some of the more socially conscious forms of industrial development, such as the Cadburys in Bournville, and the Rowntrees in York. Elizabeth Fry is noted for prison reform, and Quakers’ commitment to forms of pacifism is impressive. Eddington the physicist is worth a mention. The Retreat, pioneering psychiatric hospital in York deserves a mention. Donald Swann can maybe counterbalance Tricky Dickie.

And then there are the extraordinary, perhaps exaggerated, stories about George Fox.

There is a Quaker style or way which we would be much poorer without.

They made. I'd argue the Quaker style you mention here is no longer unique to them
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
1.I suppose I see it that the Quaker Way can largely be seen as the expression of a Christian faith.

2, I can totally understnad why people would not want to identify as Christian, but actual behave and act in ways that are in accordance with a Chrsitian faith.

1. It's a personal view and will not be supported nor shared by others. It may not be "the" expression but it can be "an" expression of the Christian faith. "The" implies a level of uniqueness many Quakers would reject in any other context.

2. I know lots of people like that. They do good things, help others and are nice people. Should we include them in decision making where faith is involved?

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mr cheesy
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Christians Together is so.. painful. Why does everyone need everyone else's permission to do something? Do it or don't do it. Why is there a need for unanimous affirmation of the idea?

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
At best (and this is the usual case), there is dialogue and listening but the accommodation required to find common ground in a specific location is just too great for the wider body to accept. ... An example: a CTE group reviews its constitution. ... either the Quakers are excluded in a new group or we stay as we are and accept that the reservations on creeds hold the day.

I had an experience fairly recently of a Churches Together group planning the best use of their tent at a County Show. While most agreed that this would be a good opportunity for the churches to mount displays on "what Christians believe" and engage in low-key evangelism, the idea was effectively scuppered by the Friend on the committee who argued that (a) a clear explanation of the Christian faith could offend people of other faiths who might come in and (b) it is an un-Quaker thing to "advertise" (the onus is on people to "enquire") and therefore we should not engage in anything that looks like promotion.

I understand that the Friend concerned is held in high esteem within the Society; certainly her objections effectively "held the group to ransom" in its desire to accommodate her views.

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sabine
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I'm very sorry to hear of these anecdotes of Friends behaving badly. I'm sure that never happens among the members of other faiths. [Smile]

Seriously, though, I am sorry that shipmates have had unfortunate experiences with Friends. If I were part of the Meetings whose behavior has been described here, I would have advocated for different approaches, and I know many Friends who would agree with me. I'm sorry we can't be on hand to offer a more "friendly" interaction.

The "let's not advertise" is really a misunderstanding of let's not proselytize, and even then, many Friends are happy to invite others to seek and engage. My iwn Meeting recently was part of a city-wide outreach called "Festival if Faiths."

And, alas, more than one congregation from more than one denomination falls prey to the allure of helping those afar (e.g. supporting a village in Nepal) while not seeing the need just down the street.

I wish those on this thread whive have bad experiences veith Friends could have the opportunity to get to know the wider world of Friends. It might help to put the behavior you've witnessed in perspective.


Anyway, my apologies for Friends who have wronged you.

sabine

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mr cheesy
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I'm not sure that this is an example of Quakers "wronging" others - but it seems a strange set of a affairs when a belief of a minority regarding proselytising is enough to stop everyone else.

Quakers are entitled to believe whatever they want. But why should everyone else have to conform? I don't understand.

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Baptist Trainfan
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In this case the lady concerned was quite strong in asserting her views, so we acceded to her for the sake of unity. It wasn't a case of "being wronged", rather an example of what can happen in any group decision if one person holds strong views. But it did make decision-making difficult.

On a positive note, one local Meeting of Friends decided that it wanted to know more about different faiths, and held a number of meetings each with representatives from a faith community. We, as a church, were invited to present Christianity; about a dozen of us went and we had a robust but friendly exchange of views which highlighted both our common ground and our differences - it was a good evening.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by sabine:
I wish those on this thread whive have bad experiences veith Friends could have the opportunity to get to know the wider world of Friends. It might help to put the behavior you've witnessed in perspective.

Sadly my experience is pretty wide - from rural areas, to market towns and big cities there's no discernible difference in the Quaker approach.

Yes other churches - including my own - aren't whiter than white but at least I can (and do) try to influence those I can. No one seems able to shift a Quaker opinion once set. I tend to find too that they don't welcome the dialogue going beyond a certain point either.

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I'm not sure that this is an example of Quakers "wronging" others - but it seems a strange set of a affairs when a belief of a minority regarding proselytising is enough to stop everyone else.

Quakers are entitled to believe whatever they want. But why should everyone else have to conform? I don't understand.

I'd say that your last paragraph sums up why the Quaker in question wronged others. She wanted - and achieved - a position where everyone conformed to her will and beliefs (you can't extricate will and beliefs).

The particular incident (which incidentally mirrors my own experience), suggests a widely held reservation about proselytising. Where does that fit with the gospel, notably the Great Commission? If Quakers won't go and proclaim Christ, they how can they claim to be Christian without some pretty smart spiritual gymnastics? Why the concern anyway? Other liberal denominations seem to cope ok with this

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
At best (and this is the usual case), there is dialogue and listening but the accommodation required to find common ground in a specific location is just too great for the wider body to accept. ... An example: a CTE group reviews its constitution. ... either the Quakers are excluded in a new group or we stay as we are and accept that the reservations on creeds hold the day.

I had an experience fairly recently of a Churches Together group planning the best use of their tent at a County Show. While most agreed that this would be a good opportunity for the churches to mount displays on "what Christians believe" and engage in low-key evangelism, the idea was effectively scuppered by the Friend on the committee who argued that (a) a clear explanation of the Christian faith could offend people of other faiths who might come in and (b) it is an un-Quaker thing to "advertise" (the onus is on people to "enquire") and therefore we should not engage in anything that looks like promotion.

I understand that the Friend concerned is held in high esteem within the Society; certainly her objections effectively "held the group to ransom" in its desire to accommodate her views.

BT that's exactly my experience in more places that just here. I find too that in group dynamics that Quakers tend to dominate to het their "point" across and tend now to be amenable to dialogue or correction.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:


The particular incident (which incidentally mirrors my own experience), suggests a widely held reservation about proselytising. Where does that fit with the gospel, notably the Great Commission? If Quakers won't go and proclaim Christ, they how can they claim to be Christian without some pretty smart spiritual gymnastics? Why the concern anyway? Other liberal denominations seem to cope ok with this

I don't think the idea of not-proselytising is particularly unique to Quakers. So that seems to me to be nonsense.

But more importantly perhaps, what if the Quaker had objected to some statement about the deity - because they happened to be a non-deist Quaker? Would that have meant that the Christians Together group couldn't have agreed on the question of whether there was a deity?

Pointless. This whole exercise is ridiculous.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Christians Together is so.. painful. Why does everyone need everyone else's permission to do something? Do it or don't do it. Why is there a need for unanimous affirmation of the idea?

Yep I agree - trouble is that it isn't always easy to plough one's own furrow (so to speak) without accusations of exclusivity and, having historical connections in CT groups can be a pain too. What has been done tends to determine what will be done/allowed.

We always need the support, advice and correction of others but that is hopeless if it's all strangled at source (which I have encountered on a regular basis). Of course, there's never open disputes just a passive aggressive lack of engagement. Everybody ends up doing their own thing (often the same kind of thing) which would be so much better with pooled talent and resources.

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
... what if the Quaker had objected to some statement about the deity - because they happened to be a non-deist Quaker?

Pointless. This whole exercise is ridiculous.

If that was the case what on earth is that person doing in planning Christian outreach? As you say, pointless.

Mind you, catch me saying that in a CT context and watch the boots go in. The Quakers are such nice people, I've been told!

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
Yep I agree - trouble is that it isn't always easy to plough one's own furrow (so to speak) without accusations of exclusivity and, having historical connections in CT groups can be a pain too. What has been done tends to determine what will be done/allowed.

I dunno, there are plenty of churches that do things outside of CT. It just seems like a whole lot of talk about nothing very much at all.

quote:
We always need the support, advice and correction of others but that is hopeless if it's all strangled at source (which I have encountered on a regular basis). Of course, there's never open disputes just a passive aggressive lack of engagement. Everybody ends up doing their own thing (often the same kind of thing) which would be so much better with pooled talent and resources.
It isn't possible to be corrected if one doesn't accept the theological position of the person giving correction.

[ 30. October 2017, 14:44: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
It isn't possible to be corrected if one doesn't accept the theological position of the person giving correction.

I disagree Mr C. I may not accept their position but I receive their wisdom. Mind you, it does depend on what it is.
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