Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Paganizing Quakerism.

George Fox in many ways did Christianity a favor in the 17th century by challenging Christians to take Christ's commands seriously and distinguishing between cultural Christianity and true Christian action. What bugged me from my Quaker readings, however, was the mental energy that was put into following the Sermon on the Mount was balanced by a de-emphasizing on certain key elements such as repentance, Christ's work on the cross, and Jesus as Lord and savior. Is it possible to do both?

The Christianity Today article discusses the decline in Quakers recently, which some are trying to counter by making their group more Wiccan friendly. This seems to me to be the logical end of the process that George Fox started, but how sad. Saint Patrick, do you have any advice on how to witness to pagans Quakers?


Delirious said...

Frankly, I find the same problem in witnessing to many Christians who feel that there is no need to obey the commandments, and that repentance means only believing in Jesus Christ, not actually changing. The principle of repentance has become "politically" or in this case, "religiously" incorrect.

Bunc said...

Hi L,
I am now back typing with two hands which is a lot easier !

Being as ill-versed in the ins and outs of different Christian sects as you are in evolutionary theory ( sorry I couldn't resist that !) I am surprised to hear you alluding to some comparison between Quakers and Pagans.

I wouuld be interested to hear what it is about Quakerism that leads you to this conclusion.

In terms of strange Christian sects I must say that the Mormons always for me seemed to take the prize given their founders transparently bizarre and fraudulent claims in the Book of Mormon about American History, lost tribes of Israel etc etc.

I read an interesting textual analysis of the Book of Mormon recently which shows how the text of this book, which was supposedly found revealed on golden tablets ( if I recall correctly), bears striking resemblance to other textual usages around at the time that it was "revealed". What is your own take on the "Book of Mormon"?

Looney said...

Hello Bunc,

Glad to hear that you are healing up. Hopefully, you can keep up with your work.

The article tells about Quakers trying to merge their practices with Wiccanism. I am not really sure, but I suspect this Wiccanism a modern derivative of Druidism. The Quakers - like many of the modernist Christian sects - have tried to remove the theological notion of Jesus as the risen Son of God. This leaves mysticism and morality, but no more notion of things like God as our father with whom we can communicate and have a relationship. The core of Christianity is thus dismissed, while some of the forms are retained. Eventually, someone asks the obvious question, "why keep the forms and rituals if the reasons for the forms and rituals are gone?". The end result is people either become formal atheists or - as is more common - they simply take in an Oprah style new age mysticism that looks back to a pre-Christian era nostalgically. The Quaker group in the article seems to have chosen the later path.

Looney said...

Hello Bunc,

Regarding the book of Mormon, my personal take on it is that it is a work of Christian-ish fiction by Joseph Smith. What struck me while originally reading it was the similarity to the King James Bible, which is perhaps the same as what you are noting with the "textual analysis". Thus, I tend to place it along side the "Little Drummer Boy", and above "Jesus Christ Superstar", but definitely not in the canonical category. It has been almost 30 years since I read the Book of Mormon.

Having said that, I will also note that working in high tech R&D means working with Mormons periodically. In general, I have found them to be quite decent and good co-workers.