Ok now on to some of the few things where I feel Quakers beliefs fall a little short .
The core of Quakerism is as solid a foundation as I think I have ever come across in Christianity. But, much of it seems to eroded especially during the period between 1800 and 1900. I’m sure there are many meetings that still stick to the core tenets but there appears to be many that also have drifted to other beliefs. This saddens me.
I do lament Quakers apparent marginalizing of some of the words of Jesus. Jesus clearly taught that all should be baptized. His great commission
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”–
Matthew 28 as shown here very much emphasized this practice. Whereas most Christian sects greatly play down the “do as I have commanded” part the Quakers play down the physical aspects of baptism. If I understand them correctly most Quakers believe that this should be a personal process and no public ceremony is necessary. I will have to study their history more to see how they think this aligns with the words of Jesus. While a public ceremony may not be necessary I think it help to re-enforce other Christians.
The other practice is communion. I understand again that Quakers believe that their communion with Jesus is a personal thing but I think the public ceremony does strengthen the corporate bond with our fellow believers. I think they claim that the quiet time is where they experience Jesus and that the ceremonial act of the Eucharist is unnecessary. Maybe my life long liturgical upbringing is just getting in the way here. I just don’t know at this point.
One other area that troubles me a about Quakers is that since they don’t align with any creeds or confessions so their congregations, or meetings as they call them, are across a wide spectrum. They seem to go all the way from Unitarian to very fundamentalist evangelicals. If I were to choose to join a Quaker meeting, and I may someday do just that, I will have to do a lot of research as to just what that particular meeting practices. This lack of uniformity is troublesome to me. The messages of their founders is so strong it is really a shame that they can’t seem to coalesce around some central tenets in order to be a more united group. I know Quakers, following George Fox’s lead, veer away from creedal documents but I think they would be better off if they were not quite so shy of more forcibly demonstrating their core convictions. This variation within the movement is certainly regrettable but I guess this is pretty common to all Christian denominations so it is not unique to them. By their lack of conformity they seem to reflect a lack of conviction and that is indeed regrettable to me.
Some areas that I have touched upon during my study warrant further investigation. One of those areas is Quakers being shunned for marrying outside of their sect and shunning in general. I think these are things of the past but I am not sure. Shunning seems to be the exact opposite of showing our love for the God within each person? At first glance these issues are a little troubling to me. But, before I pass personal opinions on them I need to study them some more.
So to close out this rather lengthy discussion on Quakers I believe that the core tenets of Quakerism follow the words of Jesus more than any other version of Christianity I have studied to date. They are certainly an action group whereas many other forms of Christianity are more words than deeds. So, to summarize more than a month of postings, I think I have finally found a religious movement that lives by the words of Jesus in both thoughts and action. At least as I understand them. Are they perfect? Certainly not but are any of us? Just because this series of posts are complete does not mean that my study of Friends is finished; in reality it is likely just beginning. There is MUCH more I want to learn about this group of Christians and especially how they put the Lord’s words into actions.