Conservative Quaker matters > Salvation

Could you please explain to me (briefly) what the Quaker doctrine of Salvation is? Does Quaker doctrine teach Salvation only through Christ, accepting Him as Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead, destroying the power of sin and death? From the explanation on your homepage, I did not really understand where "works" ends and "bona fide" starts.

Please don't feel like you need to take a lot of time with this. Just a simple explanation will do fine.

— posted by (name withheld), April 29, 2007 3:10 p.m. CDT

May 1, 2007 at 09:11AM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

Dear (name withheld),

Thank you for your note. You ask an important question, and I will try to answer as helpfully as I can.

Your own understanding of salvation — "only through Christ, accepting Him as Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead, destroying the power of sin and death" — is a way of understanding the Gospel message that is specific to modern Protestantism. It is not the only way that true Christians have understood the Gospel message down through the ages.

Paul tells us in Romans 2:13 that salvation requires a good deal more than just hearing and believing: "For it is not the hearers of the law whom God considers righteous, but the doers of the law who [by their deeds] will be found righteous." There he echoes Christ himself, who said, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and *do* it," (Luke 8:21) and — very pointedly — "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matthew 7:21) George Fox, the principal human co-founder of Quakerism, said of that last verse: "So all people may see by Christ's own words, that their saying and speaking of God and Christ, and his prophets and apostles, signifies nothing, except they do his will; that is, practise it, and be obedient to what he commands and requires."

Paul, in Romans 2, goes on to say, "When pagans who lack the law do intuitively what the law requires, then, although they lack the law, they take the rôle of the law [in their own lives]. They show [that] the law's prescription[s] are written in their hearts, [that] their consciences go with them bearing witness [to right and wrong], and [that] their reasonings [keep them honest by] accusing or excusing one another — [all of which will be remembered] on that day when God judges people's secret deeds according to my gospel through Christ Jesus." This would seem to me to be a sort of universalist teaching — that those who do what is righteous will be justified in God's eyes (and so saved), whether or not they have heard the traditional Gospel message. Paul's phrasing in this passage is confusing, though, so you may want to read it over several times, and maybe in more than one translation, before you decide for yourself whether you think I've got it right.

Now, our Quaker gospel, which we have been preaching in the marketplaces and on the roadsides of the world for more than 350 years, is that Christ has already returned to his followers in the form of a Presence in our Midst and a Voice in our hearts and consciences, teaching us how to live our lives in imitation of him, as he himself would live in our place. If we listen carefully in our hearts and consciences, and in our gathered meetings for worship, we can feel his urgings; and by staying close to those urgings, we can find *him*, Christ himself, whom our hearts ache and yearn so much for.

By embracing that Presence and yielding, moment by moment, to the urgings of that Voice, we may fulfill what Christ asks of us in Matthew 7:21 and Luke 8:21, and be justified not by faith alone but by the living fusion of faith and good works. And this is what the apostle James calls us to in the second chapter of his epistle: "Faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead. ....I will show you my faith by my works!"

That's the historical Quaker doctrine. I'd be glad to hear what you make of it.

All the best —

May 1, 2007 at 09:18AM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

(Because it represents a change of subject, this posting has been moved to a thread of its own by the site administrator. Click here to read it.)

May 18, 2007 at 10:34AM | Unregistered Commenterceecay