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Quaker, French-speaker, educator, anti-racist; Southern-born & raised, and talking enthusaist.


What I'm learning about Quaker Christianity Part 1

Conversion, Convincement & Perfection

I read Ben Dandelion's Intro to Quakerism about first generation Friends. I found it very interesting how Quaker convincement process was an abbreviated form of 12-step recovery!

I read Matthew 5:48, Romans 6:14, I John 3:9 and understood what Dandelion was saying to be:

Technically, convincement was conviction; the day of visitation.

Six key stages:
1. a powerful in-breaking of God
2. a sense of conviction of sin
3. a choice, repentance
4. being born again into perfection or a measure of perfection
5. the convinced gathering together “gathered in a net”
6. calling the world towards a new mode of religious experience

Fox railed against “preaching up sin”; saved from sin not in sin. This sounds like he wouldn't be happy with Evangelical doctrines about sin and salvation, and certainly not the Baptist or Presbyterian ones. Some Christians believe we stay sinners and need repeated forgiveness; we can’t overcome giving into temptation. Others behave as if they can do anything if saved. Quakers emphasize that if convinced, we can resist sin because we learn to resist temptation by staying grounded in the Light. Perfected life available to all.

Some notes I took:

Early Quakers “born from above” “ not of the world”

Outward form but different spiritualized self = children of God.
Unity with Christ
Fox in court: “I am the son of God., Christ’s indwelling spirit speaks through him.”
This indwelling Christ leads to Quaking.
Embodied spiritual state; quaking and enacting signs in public
Women embodinment – threat to patriarchal establishment
Spiritual experience universal.
Church not building but body of believers. – asll spaces equal sacramental potential
Universal ministry – not hireling ministry, no tithes
Fox’s dying words: I am glad I was here.

So, I've been trying to think about how I fit in to this in terms of my conversion experience. I can honestly say that as a middle school student, I felt an inward pull, but it's in looking back that I recognize it. I was intrigued by a Quaker character in a book, and that opened the doors to Quakerims (thanks to a good librarian). However, I had already been wanting to attend church and had been going to a Southern Baptist church with a neighbor. None in my family wanted anything to do with church. I don't know that at that age I was aware of being a sinner, not internally, though the Baptist faith made sure that I knew I was one! However through my teenage years I realized that I needed to repent for sins, but the Quaker emphasis on not focusing on the sin but turning to the Light, and how to turn to the Light was taught at my meeting. So, i still had Baptist concepts of sin and atonement, even though I had read Fox and Barclay. Unfortunately, the only "sin" of which I was aware was of being gay, and I didn't accept that until I was 18. I did pray for it to be removed nightly, through high school, and secretly during Christian youth prayer meetings at school, but nothing happened. Even so, it was God who reached for me, and I responded by trying to seek God in turn. I came to meeting to be gathered with those who, like me, desired to be faithful, though few at my meeting used such language and it was frustrating. The evangelical fervor was strong in me to share my experience, and yet was met with a bucket of ice cold water by most Quakers at my meeting.

An Orthodox Christian colleague of mine once commented to me how Evangelicals have it wrong: Firstly, he pointed out, nothing is to be done in the name of Jesus, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It's not our will, us accepting Jesus into our lives. It's responding to God's call to us. Quakers emphasized this, too: We respond to God. Salvation is not based responding to God’s call. The call is constant. Ego: we think we are calling God into our lives. God is already there through the Light Within. I found it interesting after this conversation that early Quakers had a traditionally Orthodox understanding in this regard.

I'm no where near perfection, but I am convinced of my inability to effect my own recovery from, well, my ego, my selfishness, and the harm that it has caused.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I followed you back from my own languishing blog (where you are certainly welcome!)

    My own pre-Quaker experience was entirely different, but I'm also undergoing a long-term 'cold-water' baptism from my Meeting.

    Sometimes it just gets really hard for a Christian to see-- that the basic truth of Christianity is that God means us well, not harm; that we are God's children, not God's prisoners. Even without a religious upbringing, I was surrounded by people who believed they should believe that God was looking for reasons to send them to Hell-- or at least that we really needed to work at deserving better! It took a long time under God's teaching for me to clear that mindset up in myself!