I hear, through social media, the letters page of the Friend, and conversations with Quakers in my Meeting, a steady trickle of Quaker voices rejecting various bits of religious vocabulary, including “prayer”, “faith”, and particularly the word "worship". This is framed in terms of "inclusivity", even "radical inclusivity". The more religious words we eliminate from our vocabulary, the more inclusive we will be of those who are put off by religion. As someone who longs for a rich shared theology, I don't experience it as inclusion.
I recently met with fellow Quaker theologian Ben Wood to talk about our upcoming books that both reflect on Quakerism and Christianity. We originally meant our conversation to be one long video, but after recording we realised it’d be better offered as a series of three shorter podcast episodes. So in this first part of our conversation we talk about what prompted us to write our books, our difficulties with universalism and our approaches to Jesus.
Quakers in the past may have had a ‘testimony against times and seasons’, but this is no longer true in Britain today. Many Quaker meetings, including my own, will have Christmas-themed worship in December. We have abandoned referring to Monday as ‘second day’ and June as ‘sixth month’, except in some formal documents like marriage certificates. In practice the testimony has fallen away, but nothing positive has replaced it. We find ourselves in a half-way house, with no clear corporate answer on the place of times and seasons in the Quaker faith. If we take a look at why Quakers opposed times and seasons in the first place, we might be able to construct an approach that makes sense for us today.
The community formed by and around Christ should be one of strangers brought into intimate communion, a new kind of family. But what has happened to this original vision of the Church?... The Church has moved from being a community of intimacy to a community of strangers, strangers who don’t even recognise one other as fellow Christians. In his book ‘The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race’, Willie James Jennings describes the roots of this ‘distorted relational imagination’.
This is the fourth and final part of ‘Rethinking the Liberal Quaker Jesus’, where I critique early liberal Quaker Edward Grubb’s understanding of Jesus. You can find the first part of the series here. F. Jesus the Jew When we reflect on what Jesus means to us today, we need to ask: How does Jesus… Continue reading Rethinking the Liberal Quaker Jesus 4/4
This is part three of four of ‘Rethinking the Liberal Quaker Jesus’, where I critique early liberal Quaker Edward Grubb’s understanding of Jesus. You can find the first part of the series here. D. The Cross as an example of God’s love A central question about Jesus is ‘what did Jesus’ death achieve?’ Grubb offers… Continue reading Rethinking the Liberal Quaker Jesus (3/4)