Network for Spiritual Progressives
December 18, vcialis 40mg 2007
Quakers and PeaceMarge Abbott & Eddy Crouch
* Peace is a way of being
* Peace is a response to the Light of Christ within
* Peace is recognition of that same Light present in everyone
* Peace is inextricably interwoven with Justice, no rx Mercy, this site concern for creation, love of our neighbors, love for our enemies
* Peace is a process of living each day, interacting with everyone we meet in ways, and being concerned that those who are voiceless or powerless are treated equitably and with respect
* Peace is a way of living in obedience to God’s will — living out God’s way for the world – and is dependent on small actions as much as large gestures.
A BIT OF HISTORY & THEOLOGY
Quakers have had a corporate Peace Testimony almost since our founding, yet Friends have always struggled with what that means for us as individuals, as a community and as part of a nation and the world community.
– George Fox, the founder of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as a young man searching for faith, rejected the church and the formal teachings and came to know God inwardly: “There is one even Christ Jesus who can speak to my condition”
– Fox was offered freedom from jail if he would lead troops in 1651. He refused this offer and remained in jail:
“So the keeper of the House of Correction was commanded to bring me up before the Commissioners and soldiers in the market place; and there . . . asked me if I would not take up arms for the Commonwealth against the King. But I told them I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars, and I knew from whence all wars did rise, from the lust according to James doctrine (James 4.1) . . . but I told them I was come into the covenant of peace which was before wars and strifes were.”
But there were some Quakers who were in the Parliamentary army and believed that replacing the king with commonwealth was part of bringing in God’s kingdom on earth, but they were soon disillusioned with Oliver Cromwell and there are records of various Quakers including George Fox admonishing Cromwell.
By 1660, Friends were making corporate statements saying they would not take up arms:
“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world . . The Spirit of Christ, bu which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a ting as evil, and again to move unto it; and we certainly know, and testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ nor for the kingdoms of this world . . Therefore, we cannot learn war any more.”
Throughout the 1650s and 1660s in particular when Quakers were often brutally beaten by citizens and soldiers as well as being hauled off to prison on trumped up charges, they were clear in their nonviolent response to these attacks and public in their declaration of their faith despite the violence it showered down upon them. (Children’s meeting)
But through this all, many of them continued to recognize the need for some kind of state power to control criminals & protect its citizens. A few Friends even saw the need for the state to respond defend its citizens from attacks from other nations (although this has not been well researched) and Friends today still struggle with whether there is a role for an international police force in places like Darfur – and what that action might look like. Theologically, this is a question where Friends have always been clear that in the kingdom of God there is no place for war or violence of any kind. They also believed that the kingdom is come as well as is coming in the future – thus they were living in that kingdom, but not all people were. Thus the dilemma, what how to respond to those who do not know the Light of Christ in their hearts and live in accord with that Light.
You might get very different descriptions of the motivation for Friends’ actions depending on whether you talk to someone from Multnomah Meeting, or from Newberg Friends Church. The Newberg Friends are deeply Christian and sometimes quite conservative in their political views. Friends such as Eddie and myself are open to a variety of theological perspectives and range from moderate to radical leftists politically. But there are points of strong common agreement. There have been joint groups – evangelical and liberal which lobbied together several times after 9/11 trying to stop the rush to war and then to get us out of Iraq. And we all believe that our actions, individually and corporately should grow out of attentive listening to the voice of the Light and we share a common approach to making decisions seeking Unity with God’s way.
Listening Spirituality – underlies all we do
– Individual listening prayer (Fox going into the field before taking action)
– Responding to that of God in the other (sometimes this might throw them into confusion)
– Seeking clearness within the context of community and tradition – be it biblical or Quaker (modern clearness committees)
– Responding to queries
Do we live in the virtue of that life and power which takes away the occasion of all war?
Do we refrain from taking part in war as inconsistent with the Spirit of Christ?
What are we doing to remove the causes of war and to bring about the conditions of peace? Where there are hatred, division, and strife, how are we instruments of reconciliation and love?
How do we communicate to others an understanding of the basis of our peace testimony?
As we work for peace in the world, are we nourished by peace within ourselves?
– Doing business together –
* the whole community is invited to participate in decision-making.
* the clerk’s primary responsibilities are to set the agenda and to listen for Unity
* we do not argue back and forth, but seek for where the spirit is
* when there seems to be clarity, the clerk asks if “Friends approve”