Friday, June 13, 2008

Quakers vs. Puritans

I have been researching Friends (aka Quakers) in all capacities. I will refrain from all the details of my reading.

I have learned that the Quakers and Puritans were always opposites and I did not know that before.

I have learned that the Puritans are now called Reformed or Baptists or the best name for them currently is Reformed Baptist. SEE NOTE BELOW

I have had an open mind in my research and I have found a lot of Christianity in the early history of the Quakers but this group of people has now become a mixture of Christians and non-Christians.

The older the literature one reads the more convincing it is that Quakers are Christian. The reverse is true as well. The newer the literature one reads the more evident it becomes that Quakers are not necessarily Christian.

There are Christian Quakers.

On page 177 of "Friends for 300 Years" it says, "Much emphasis was placed on the significance of the historical events which gave rise to the Christian religion, including especially the life, teachings and sacrificial death of Christ. This emphasis was prominent in the writings by which the Quakers defended themselves against opponents who claimed they were not Christians because of their universalism, their opposition to the doctrine of imputed righteousness and the their belief in the supremacy of the Light Within over the Bible. "

It goes on to say that the Puritans had a main purpose of "preaching the Word to assure right belief" but the Quakers thought that of less importance.

The Quakers look to the "Light" as the teacher and have made every effort to led their people to the light. The Puritans have made every effort to concentrate on the Bible and get good, solid doctrine from the Word of God.

I respect and believe in being quiet before the Lord. I do not thrive in the noisy Evangelical church with the large Public Address Systems.

However, I am not ready to abandon the Bible entirely for the "Light." In fact, the Bible teaches us that Satan *can* disguise himself as an angel of light.

I know there is a balance between going over-board on "inwardness" to the exclusion of inspired Holy doctrine and the rigid, so called "head-knowledge" with its making the Bible a textbook to be dissected.

I have read a lot and I find that others before me have noted the extremes. One person or group meditates too much, as it were, to the exclusion of being an useful, engaged human participant. Think desert hermit for an extreme case of this.

Another group has every Bible passage memorized but will not set aside the time to pray sufficiently, to be quiet, to spend time with the Lord, and for some of them "meditation" is a profane word.

I believe in imputed Righteousness. I believe that I have no righteousness to offer the Lord, the little bit I may think that I have, I don't, and we all know that verse about the filthy rags.

I believe I am a sinner and I know that I can barely get through a few hours without sinning. Yes, I have the fruit of the Holy Spirit and yes, I am being sanctified and I am becoming more Holy as I abide in the Vine.

I believe Jesus Christ when He compares me to a sheep and He calls Himself a Shepherd.

He teaches us, in the Bible, that the Sheep will know His voice...I want to know that voice.

The Bible also teaches us that Jesus Christ is the Word of God, it stands to reason then that the more I know the Bible, the more I know about Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate, God incarnate in human flesh.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. God's Word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path. There is no darkness in God. Without salvation we wonder around in the darkness---all Biblical truths.

The Bible is the Truth and I will not forsake it, ignore it or teach others to do so. It is the very WORD of God and can be trusted.

NOTE: I have been corrected by someone more knowledgeable than myself. The Puritans are now the Reformed Baptists. The Reformed Baptists "reformed" from the Anglican Church in England and they did not "reform" from the Catholics. Otherwise, one could wrongly think that all the Lutherans, Presbyterians, and all holding to the original Reformers were all of the Puritan branch of Christianity. Both the Reformed and the Reformed Baptists agree with John Calvin and John Knox to the best of my knowledge.


Glinda said...

Thanks for this. I was trying to find the differences between Puritans and Quakers.

In your search for Christ, have you ever researched The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

clevsea said...

Yes, I did look into that. I read the book of Mormon and I did not believe in it.

The first time I did that I wasn't a Christian yet. The second time I did that I was.

I find that there are too many differences between what they believe and what I see in the Bible.

I like to go by the Bible as my only guide to theology and doctrine.

Thank you very much for the comment and the question.


Anonymous said...

The part of this about Quakers being too inward and meditating too much is innaccurate. "Quietism" (not to be confused with Taoist Quietism) was a trend that swept through several religious communities including some Quaker communities, one that advocated "doing nothing except being in a God-centred state" as much as possible as it was held that any action might come from the Ego and thus be a sin. This was not part of the original Quaker teachings and experience, which were very much about right action in life.

The Puritans and the Quakers are not, and cannot be opposites. The Quakers begin with one George Fox, a Puritan preacher in England and many of his original followers were also Puritans or had Puritan leanings. They share much in their worldview and practices including a commitment to Plainness and Simplicity in living. Both groups wished to get rid of superfluous ritual that distracted from Christian purpose and was often superstituous and quasi-magical and both were willing to endure great hardship and persecution to testify to the truths they believed in.

They differed in that Puritans took the view that Prophecy had at some point(after Paul's day)ended and that the Canon of the Bible (in English, translated out of Latin, translated out of Greek and some of that possibly out of Aramaic) was the sole "Word" (Logos) of God. They were Biblical literalists. The Friends (Quakers) however took the Bible at it's word when it says that Christians should all prophesy and that Christ is the true Logos of God, with God from the beginning and is within us all....and whenever two or three gather in his name is not just a presence in us but is also with us. Puritans believed that Christ taught for only a few years, Quakers believe Christ has always been teaching and continues to do so.

Puritans believed that all are born in sin and that only a few will be saved, not by any merit or works of their own but by some sort of murky divine lottery they will be saved by Christ's death. Quakers believe that we are all born innocent and that "Original Sin" refers to human fallibility (unlike Christ when we learn about sin we lose our innocence) and each generation exposing the next to sin....but that through putting on Christ we can overcome this (Grace). Quakers do however believe that this requires passing through "the narrow gate" and that many people choose the ways of the Ego and World over the Grace of God...however God will leave the sheep in the fold to pursue these lost sheep as the Bible tells. They are not cast away by God as is preached by Predestination theology, which would make a liar of Christ's telling us how ardently God pursues us when we are lost. Quakers do believe we "can do nothing of our selves" for our Self has lost the innocent state is full of fears and ego desires...therefore humans must do God's Will and not our own.

You are correct that many people calling themselves Quakers today, especially in the Liberal branch, are no longer Christians. More pointedly, many of them are vocally anti-Christianity and the Liberal Friends general meeting in Canada has attempted to shut down a website devoted to Conservative (Christian) Friends in Canada by pressuring it's host and trying to pressure the U.S. meeting to which he belongs. Pastoral Friends are also Christian but have moved away from many traditional Quaker practices and testimonies and are more like mainline Christian churches in many respects. They have paid ministry and do not use the Silent Worship.

A proper differentiation of Puritans and Quakers must first understand their common beginnings.

clevsea said...

Thank you Anonymous for your well stated comments.

The Lord's servant must not quarrel so I will not dispute anything that you have written.

I do want to clear up something that I had written because evidently I was not clear when I wrote this.

When I was writing of "some" who spend too much time meditating I did not mean the Quakers at all. I meant those who have done that from any and all branches of meditation and inwardness.

This concept has been addressed by countless monks and mystics because it can become a problem and many who spend quality time with the Lord have asked themselves about the balance of quiet prayer time (and solitude) and being useful and doing some productive work in addition to much time spent in meditation.

Thank you again for your thoughts,