Entries in Blogwitness (6)
I began to think, “I am beginning to know these people as people. I like them as people. If I walked into a meetinghouse and found all of them sitting on the benches, I’d feel right at home.”
Friends, if you haven’t already noticed it, I’d like to call your attention to the discussion currently swirling about conservative columnist Rod Dreher’s confession on National Public Radio last Thursday.
Is there any liberal Quaker reading this, who doesn’t wish the right wing would listen to their “whys” for once, and not just caricature their positions?
But is it too much to point out that liberals, including Quaker liberals, overlook the conservative “whys” and caricature the conservative positions in the very same way?
When we think of evangelical outreach, we normally think of a message that needs to be spoken. But what Confucius was saying … raises the interesting question of whether actions might not be a better way to express the Good News than words.
If even one person manifests the body of Christ … that will be a bit of the Good News made flesh: people will be drawn to it, and will want to be in community with that person and with Christ. As with Paul and Silas’s jailer, their conversions will not be far off.
There were good reasons for dividing this set of duties … as Friends eventually divided them, between two groups, the elders and the overseers…. But Dewsbury’s letter helps us see that a single type of person is needed for both sorts of duties: someone who
is himself (or herself) very familiar with such issues and their real-life solutions,
has shown sufficient steadiness and integrity to be worthy of Friends’ trust in handling them,
has developed the detachment and perspective needed to hear of them as they arise without becoming unduly disturbed, and
has gained the strength needed to deal with such issues without becoming faint of heart
— or as Dewsbury puts it, someone who is “grown in the power and life, and in the pure discernment in the Truth.”
And this insight, as to what qualifies Friends for eldership, is important for us here because it demystifies the matter.
We can see that in Dewsbury’s (and George Fox’s) estimation, an elder is not someone who has charismatic gifts beyond the measure of ordinary mortals; he or she is simply someone who has the necessary experience, seasoning and discipline to do the job right and without transgressing.
…but Camelot speaks out at last.
Most Christians — including most Christian Quakers — are, I think, more inclined to approach the Bible as insiders, which is to say, as people whose lives are embedded within the selfsame story that the Bible tells the early chapters of. So for them, the Bible is not an objective textbook that one examines with detachment, like a school board considering a new civics text.