Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quaker Faith and Values as I understand them

Robin M, the creator of "What Canst Thou Say" has provided on her blog a brief statement she titled "My Commitment to Quaker Faith and Values". This was part of a project in which she was asked to "Give a brief statement of your commitment to the Quaker faith and values as you understand them." I'm not involved in that project, and feel no need to comment on my commitment to the Quaker faith and values, but I love the idea of saying something meaningful in 250 words or less about what that faith is and what those values are (as I understand them). Here goes......

As I understand it, the Quaker faith is a decision to trust (by listening for, listening to, and following) the teaching and leading of Christ. Quaker belief is a separate matter from Quaker faith, but not entirely unrelated. I could believe many things about Christ without being willing to trust and follow Him, and would then be a believer but not have faith. Likewise, there might be a person who senses, trusts, and follows the leadings of Christ in the heart without being able to make "I believe.." statements about Him. Such a person could be considered to have faith without belief. Faith without belief is of more value than belief without faith.

As I understand them, the enduring Quaker values are those taught by Christ: Love of God, Love of Neighbor, Love of Enemies, Respect for Creation, Unselfishness, Service, Honesty, and Humility.

How many words was that?

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Blogger Robin M. said...

If I take out the words that describe what other people might think rather than what you believe, I count 68.

I think you could say more.

3:45 PM, February 15, 2007  
Blogger Anon For Everything said...

I really appreciate your blog. it is informative and interesting. I have long been interested in the Quaker religion.

5:34 PM, February 15, 2007  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Thank you for sharing this, Rich.

6:03 PM, February 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very, very nice. I liked it enormously.

But you didn't answer the request, Rich. You described what Quaker faith and values are, in your understanding. But the request asked you to provide a statement of your commitment to these things.

What can you say about your commitment?

Sigh. What can any of us say?

I know that, if I were asked to respond to this same request, I'd be tongue-tied. How do I know the nature of my commitment, except as I am tested by temptations to fall away from it? That is the only proof of commitment that counts. And I feel very shy about recounting my temptations (and my numerous failures to withstand them!) in public.

8:58 AM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Marshall has it right: I did not answer the question about "my commitment" to Quaker faith and values. Indeed, I pretty much acknowledged that in the first few words of my post.

Like Marshall, I hardly know what to say about my own commitment. And if I did know what to say I think that in the saying I would probably be unduly self-promoting or unduly self-effacing. How hard it is to follow Paul's advice in Romans 12:3 "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." And how much harder still it is to not only "think" of oneself in this way, but to "speak of oneself in this way.

I'm Not going to get there today, Friends.

But I appreciate Robin's confidence that I "could say more", and there is something else, tangentially related, that I can write about. Look for a post, coming soon, on "What I owe to the Religious Society of Friends", or words to that effect.

I also want to thank Mark for stopping by. He's made his own statement about Quaker Faith and Values over at his own blog Ear of the Soul . It's well worth reading.

- - Rich

9:36 AM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger Johan Maurer said...

The "What I owe" comment is a wonderful seed for contemplation. I'm going to use that. Thank you!

10:45 AM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

John Edminster sent me the following comment and asked if I could post it for him. I am happy to do so.
Hi, Rich. I like what you wrote, very much. And also what Marshall wrote by way of comment.
...Here's my comment:
Basically, we all fail a lot. But Jesus keeps coming back to us who trust in Him, as He came back to Peter, saying "Do you love Me? Feed my sheep." And then we try again. So it doesn't matter how shamefully or how often we fail; in any case we are forgiven. So to use up any of our 250 alloted words describing how miserably weak our flesh is is a waste of words, and of our reader's attention. The important thing is that through repenting our failures and redoubling our efforts, with the help of His grace, we keep doing better. We learn to say, with the Disciples, "Lord, increase our faith." Contemplating the Lord and His truth, we become transformed into that same image, from glory to glory. And eventually we learn to say, truthfully, of the things that have been given us to do, with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." If we end up dying a martyr's death, we may still die screaming, but we won't have betrayed our faith, and we'll return to the Throne able to say, "I drank the cup You gave me right down to the bottom; thank You for giving me the strength to do it." If we end up living an outwardly unremarkable life but our intent was right, we'll say the same words. The one penny we get for our work in the vineyard is the same in either case.


3:27 PM, February 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I don't know that " use up any of our 250 alloted words describing how miserably weak our flesh is is a waste of words, and of our reader's attention."

I have been helped by the apostle Paul's admission of his weakness, and by various saints I have known personally admitting theirs; it has helped me understand that those of weak will can nonetheless be sanctified and used. So their confessions have strengthened my faith.

I can assure you that if I die a martyr's death, when I get to Heaven I won't say to God, "I drank the cup You gave me all the way to the bottom." I'll say, "You know, God, I really, really didn't want to go that route."

7:39 AM, February 18, 2007  

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