Quakerism - My faith
So I’m not going to go over what Quakerism is for everyone, but rather focus on what Quakerism means to me.
I felt the evil weakening in me and the good raised up - Robert Barclay
For me, Quakerism is about experiencing God’s leading in life. God calls and I attempt to do. It’s almost a form of continual improvement; with the fruit of following God being more patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
This is not based on some sort of complex theology. The election of the saints or the depravity of my inward self play no role in this type of life. Quakerism is based upon orthopraxis “right practice” rather than an orthodoxy “right thinking”. This idea goes back to the beginning of the Religious Society of Friends where George Fox rejected notions about God (creed, dogma) and focused more on the experience of God. One can have “bad” theology and be a “good” Quaker; because they live up to Quaker practices and testimony.
Orthopraxis centers around the call of God. I find Lewis Benson’s view on this to be most helpful. Quakers are simply called by Divine Command to do what God wants them to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Often we live with certain ideologies of how things should be. We strive to help craft that world with our actions and dreams whether it be through our jobs, volunteer service, worship, or personal interactions. Benson calls this the “ethic of ideology” or the working towards and idea or ideal state as the goal. He goes on to say Quakers have more of an “ethic of obligation”. “Ethic of obligation” is more where we only need to do what God calls us to do via Divine Command. These commands are not optional; they are obligations toward God/Spirit.
But this sounds droll and a little bit too theological.
The essence of faith is not in the theology.
Faith lives by the fire of Spirit and light of Christ.
The light of Christ burning bright in the individual is the driver of Quaker experience. This light is the “Christ in one’s heart” or the inward Christ who soothes, directs, rages, and saves. This light whispers and roars in the silence. This light makes demands of equality and peace. This light consumes the ego and insists on integrity. Christ conquers the heart and builds up the good in those who follow His teaching.
Then you will come to walk cheerfully over all the earth speaking to that of God in every one. - George Fox
The gospel is a cheerful gospel. The good news of a better life in Christ and community. If your gospel is dour and makes you an incorrigible Quaker, then that is not the gospel. If the gospel is a condemnation of others a restriction of the life in Christ removing others from partaking in the communion of the saints, then it is not the gospel. The gospel is not a message of hate nor a political slogan. The gospel is not a promise of fiscal success nor a fixing of all problems. It’s a promise of the withness of Christ - an eternal partnership. The gospel is the good news coming of the Kingdom of God. The gospel is a proclamation of divine love of God for humanity. Christ did not come to condemn the world, but to save it.
Don’t take my word for any of this though. Experience God for yourself. Go to a meeting and sit in the silence. Participate in a worship service or listen to a sermon. Most importantly, listen for God and take the risk of opening yourself to faith.