[FT] If Quaker life started today

Lee Nichols Lee_Nichols at verizon.net
Thu Mar 29 07:06:08 PDT 2007

Have you ever wondered what the early Quakers would have say to people today 
if they lived in our time instead of the 1600's? How would they have 
presented the same message today instead of doing it 350 years ago? They 
obviously wouldn't make any references to Quaker writings or practice. The 
following is an attempt to state one possibility of what their message may 
be if initially given today. Because I live in New York, I refer to Quakers 
as N.Y. Christian Friends.  I wonder what others think about this.

The Mission: To gather people together to live in the new life available in 
Spiritual union with Christ Jesus.

Activities: To develop and support gathered communities, N. Y. Christian 
Friends assist people to live in the Spirit of Christ and to learn about the 
life and work of Jesus Christ 1) from the Bible 2) from writing of earlier 
Christians 3) from personal experience and 4) from sharing with one another.

1. The Bible
In the Old Testament the Bible provides a sense of where people come from 
and gives a context as well as concepts to understand the works of Jesus and 
the changes introduced by the Messiah. The work of Jesus as the Messiah is 
described in the New Testament. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark. Luke and John 
tell that God acted in the time line of history in Christ to create a new 
reality in the development of humankind. The letters of Paul, Peter, John 
and James tell that the Spiritual Life of Christ is shared with those who 
look to Him to find this new life. This new life makes the person into a new 
creature who is part of a new creation in Christ. There is no new creature 
with out joining a new creation, and there is only a new creation for the 
person who is a new creature. The Bible truths are mediated through language 
whose meaning depends on the experience and the ability to conceptualize 
various ideas that other people try to put in to words. Since this process 
is imperfect the Bible can be a source of division and misunderstanding as 
well as a basis for unity and understanding.
2. Writings of Earlier Christians
The ways the Spirit of God worked in Christians of all ages can give a 
richness and texture to life in the Spirit for present day Christians. It 
can be helpful to learn how different people worked out the same issues that 
effect those in the present time.
3. Personal Experience of Spiritual Birth
The Bible reminds us that there is an understanding that is beyond language 
which is described as Spiritual. The nature of God is Spiritual, and it is a 
spiritual birth that occurs when one is joined to Christ. This Spiritual 
communion allows people to experience truth in the deepest possible way. It 
is therefore as people are in the Spirit of Christ that they are prepared to 
understand what the Bible intends to communicate. But because our sense of 
being in the Spirit is also fallible, Christian Friends encourage each 
person to read, understand and use the Bible to test competing points of 
4. Sharing with one another in Communal Life
NY Christian Friends join together to nurture the Spiritual experience of 
each person with Christ and to nurture a corporate experience with the 
Spirit in order to be in the Spirit together and to work together under the 
leadership of the Spirit and Light of Christ. A concern for others outside 
of the New Creation leads Friends to redemptive action and suffering which 
is Christ's way to free those still living in the Old Creation

Distinctive Characteristics of N.Y. Christian Friends

N.Y. Christian Friends differ from practices of other Christian Societies in 
order to remain free from practices rooted in the Old Creation and in the 
Old Testament. Christian Friends finds both global and specific teaching of 
the New Testament as well as the witness of the Spirit of Christ pointing to 
the following positions about our activities.
1. Conversion or the new birth. The new birth in Christ occurs in the 
encounter between the Light and Spirit of Christ and the spirit of each 
individual. Conversion occurs when the individual spirit is transformed as 
it welcomes in the Light or Spirit of God in Christ. This Spiritual birthing 
process is not the result of a religious ceremony nor is it the result of 
words spoken. Making the action of God dependent on ceremonies and words 
gives the impression that God saves as the result of magic spells and not in 
response to the openness and acceptance in the heart of a person to what is 
known of the Light and truth of Christ revealed by the Spirit of God.
2. Worship. Worship is the way a person lives their life. It is the persons 
behaviors, thoughts, attitudes and purposes that shape the total life 
experience so that the life is like a drink offering being poured out before 
God. It is a life lived in response to the leading and will of the Spirit of 
God in Christ at the expense of the natural or fleshly or evolutionary 
survival drives and concerns. When the natural concerns of life are placed 
ahead of the understanding of the will of God or the leading of the Spirit 
of Christ in any area of life, there is no worship of God there. Christian 
Friends do not see worship as an activity which gathered meetings try to 
experience in their meetings. The Bible does not connect New Testament 
meetings with worship activities. The Bible does however frequently mention 
activities of Communing with the Spirit of Christ and of sharing in the 
Spirit with each other. Those who use the gathered meeting for worship as 
singing, special ceremonies or creating a special emotional state are 
emphasizing an external God of the Old Testament and not the indwelling 
Christ of the New Testament.
3. Leadership. The Bible teaches that Christ wishes to be the leader, 
teacher and counselor of every Christian. Those who serve Christ do not 
replace Christ as leader but become servants to the community directing the 
people to Christ. We see the Bible using general terms for leadership 
positions in the church that are the same as those used in other community 
groups in that location. Therefore the names for leaders in the Bible vary 
from one location to another.
Each community must exist in a place and time, and leaders need to be 
appointed to see that the community has the necessary organization to allow 
the spiritual community to develop and thrive. The danger is that those 
appointed to oversee the necessary organizational matters will be seen as 
responsible for the ministry of the Spirit as well. In this way, leaders 
have historically become substitutes for the authority and expression of the 
Spirit of Christ. There is then a movement toward the Old Covenant where God 
spoke to the community by means of his priest and away from the New Covenant 
were Christ speaks to each person spirit to Spirit and to the Community by 
movement of His Spirit in any or all of the participants.
N.Y. Christian Friends take care to insure that the appointed leaders do not 
pretend to have special spiritual powers but use their gifts to facilitate 
the Spirit's leadership in each individual and in the community as a whole. 

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