1. As we often proclaim, Friends are, for the most part, non-creedal and non-hierarchical. When we are at our best we’ve avoided creeds, and when we are at our worst we’ve just been bad at them. One of the apparent features of the emerging church movement seems to be a general disinterest in formal creedal statements of belief that everyone is expected to conform to in order to be “in.” Friends’ attempts to wait for the Spirit to lead rather than turning to a human leader is one of our historic precedents. Our testimony on equality, so radical at the time of the early Friends, speaks to the cultural reality of the new Jesus People and the spiritual reality to which they aspire….
2. Friends have long held an abiding faith in the continuing revelation of God. We may disagree on what that revelation is, and our different branches may have different views on how that is revealed to us, but it is safe to say few Quakers believe that God went away when the canon was closed. Popular evangelists like Rob Bell and Shane Claiborne draw large crowds of young Seekers precisely because they speak of meeting the Holy Spirit through experience, not concept. For many of the speakers of this new Movement, and I can only assume for their aspiring listeners, the stories they want to hear are not about what God can do for us, but what God is doing in the world – and how can we be a part of it. Isn’t that the continuing revelation of God?
3. To these new Followers of Jesus, faith means an abiding trust in the non-violent and redemptive love of God for everyone regardless of race, religion, social status, sexual orientation, political beliefs, criminal occupation, or anything else we humans use to separate ourselves. This new Awakening expends little energy on theological debate and like many Friends does not equate Christian life with questions of reward/heaven versus punishment/hell. Sin and salvation are not so much ignored as trumped by Grace. And in a world filled with poverty, violence, addiction, exploitation, hopelessness, fear, and suffering of all kinds, the emerging church is longing for a prophetic witness for peace and reconciliation.
Friends, let us learn from this movement of the Spirit in our day. Let us join with them and pray with them and grow with them, not that they may “become Quakers” (whatever that means), but that together and across traditions, we may see what Love can do in our world today.
I apologize for the length of the quote above but I didn’t want to edit anything out as I usually do. I am currently a convinced non-engaging Quaker. That is I believe much of what they practice but don’t formally belong to a meeting.
As the words above say Emergents, like their Quaker brothers, have a rather strong aversion to creedal stands. Creeds, which are man-made statements of beliefs that are often used to qualify a person for membership into a particular religious sect. They are often also used to exclude instead of include. I know that the Nicene Creed was used to push me out of the church I once belonged to. My case was somewhat typical I suppose.
I love the phrase “For many of the speakers of this new Movement, and I can only assume for their aspiring listeners, the stories they want to hear are not about what God can do for us, but what God is doing in the world – and how can we be a part of it” That almost sums it up for me. It is all about “being” not “believing”.
When two organization that I hold dearly in my walk with Christ come together in whatever form I am ready to celebrate. Quakers don’t need to become emergents nor the other way around. Emergents are about living our faiths, not about further fracturing into yet smaller groups.