Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"...not notion...power..."

I posted this as a comment in someone else's blog but decided to post it to my own, too. The question was whether "Quakerism" was or was not "evangelical Christianity." My take (somewhat revised from the intitial comment):

The issue is change and not form. "Quakerism" can very much be going on in evangelical Christianity but evangelical Christianity might not have "Quakerism" going on in it, at all.

It's not in the label but in the life.

Regardless of the symbols around which one arranges one's spiritual understanding, a living, guiding morality is the center of that spiritual life. If it isn't then Quakerism isn't going on, no matter that one writes "Quaker" (with any or no modifier) on forms asking religious preference.

It's not about assenting to and asserting a set of beliefs and then returning to one's own self centered way of life--it's about being transformed to the condition that is variously described as the "fruits of the spirit" or the "Quaker testimonies" or the "this or that fold path," the "Way" and so on.

We get there any way we can, any way open to us, but it's there we need to get. We cannot stay where we are, no matter how far along we are--like the manna it is replenished daily. The more we talk theology/notions the more likely we are to be slowed down (and to slow down others), the more likely we are to be stopped, to start staying the same, to move backward.

If attended that which is within us can set us free, if ignored that which is within us may well destroy us and those around us.

"The sum and substance of true religion does not stand in
getting a notion of Christ's righteousness, but in
feeling the power of endless life, receiving the power,
and being changed by the power. And where Christ is
there is his righteousness."

Isaac Penington

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