FAQs for Friends– Part #9 (The Last Part): Jesus & The Golden Gate Bridge

FAQs for Friends– Part #9 (The Last Part): Jesus & The Golden Gate Bridge

Since it’s been a few weeks since Part #8 was posted, we’ll repeat the last Query from #8, as a way of catching up.

(To read earlier posts in this series, click here.)

FAQs-LogoQ.  Did Anybody Else Besides These Early Friends Repeat The (radical & disruptive Quaker religious) Ideas?

You bet. One of the most eloquent champions of these ideas didn’t come along until 200 years after Barclay. It was the most famous American Friend of the 1800s, the poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

Re-reading Whittier’s religious and Quaker-oriented poems, it has seemed obvious to me that they serve as the imaginative previsioning of much of the path liberal and Progressive Quakerism has trod since.

To see what I mean, let’s consider a few stanzas, first from his long poem, “The Meeting”:

I know how well the fathers taught,
What work the later schoolmen wrought;
I reverence old-time faith and men,
But God is near us now as then.
And still the measure of our needs
Outgrows the cramping bounds of creeds;
The manna gathered yesterday
Already savors of decay . . . .

Or this, from “Miriam”:

And I made answer: “Truth is one;
And in all lands beneath the sun,
Whoso hath eyes to see may see
The tokens of its unity.
No scroll of creed its fulness wraps,
We trace it not by school-boy maps,
Free as the sun and air it is
Of latitudes and boundaries.
In Vedic verse, in dull Koran,
Are messages of good to man.”

There are many other similar passages.

Of course, like Barclay and his other forebears, Whittier was about as loyally Christian in his basic outlook as one could hope for. He was much impressed by the preaching of Joseph John Gurney, the godfather of evangelical Quakerism. Yet his mature faith, as glimpsed in these lines, is simultaneously at one with the inclusive view of the Church which Barclay expounded and which I am describing here.

Some have said such a combination is impossible or self-contradictory. I believe they are mistaken, and call Friend Greenleaf as Exhibit A.

Now. To the last “chapter” in this series.

FAQs — Part 9 —

[Note: This closing section is longer than previous ones. Take your time, and I hope you’ll stick with it.]

Q. What’s  So Special About Quaker Christianity? And What’s Jesus Got to Do With the Golden Gate Bridge?

(NOTE: Much of this section was adapted from my book, Without Apology.)

Forgive my sentimentality about this, but one of the most agreeable years of my life was spent in San Francisco, from mid-1976 to mid-1977. Never mind that I was poor, even officially homeless for part of the time, because life was good. I had steady work as a reporter, which produced some of my better journalistic writing; and the city’s exotic beauty, its uniquely adventurous atmosphere, were constant delights.

The full story of that year is for another book. I mention it now because it explains why for me, the question of the meaning of Christianity, especially as understood from a Progressive Quaker perspective, is inextricably tied up with my memories of one of San Francisco’s signal glories, the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here’s what I mean:

Suppose the Golden Gate Bridge connected, not Marin County and San Francisco, but earth and heaven. And suppose it was the Only Way to get from one to the other, the true road to “salvation.”

This idea is not as silly as it sounds. At the old Lake Street Friends meetinghouse in San Francisco, a large window opened on a view of the bridge. On numerous  First Day mornings during that year I sat and contemplated the scene. Often enough the great arched span was caressed and then obscured by rolling sweeps of fog, and it was easy to imagine that the far end came down in some dimension much stranger than Marin County.

I crossed the bridge many times, feeling a certain thrill with every transit. Part of the rush was a macabre sense of the bridge’s darker aspect, as a location for self-destruction. Every year a certain number of people make their way to the bridge, step up on its railing, and jump or fall to their deaths in the cold swirling waters below. (The total number of bridge deaths is undisclosed, but reported to be well over a thousand.)

golden-gate-bridge-fog

Thus, solid as the bridge looked, and was, not everyone who set foot on it made it to the promised land at the other end. There was no guarantee: to get across, one had first to find the bridge, then walk or drive straight, stay in lane, and keep going.

One other important feature of my experience with the bridge is that I didn’t learn until many years later who built it. In fact, I don’t think I ever thought about its origins and creators. I took the span as much for granted as I did the city’s striking natural features, the curling morning fog on the hills, or the stark white rock of Alcatraz framed by the sparkling bay.

But of course the Golden Gate Bridge is not a natural phenomenon; it is a marvel of human artistic design and engineering skill, as unique as the Mona Lisa or the United States Constitution. Further, its principal designer, and chief engineer, was a man named Joseph B. Strauss.

Strauss-Bridge
Joseph Strauss, who oversaw the building of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Hence, while crossing the bridge during that special year, I was, in fact, quite mistaken in thus taking it for granted. I was neglecting, even doing an injustice to the remarkable creative work of friend Strauss, work which certainly deserved to be acknow-ledged, remembered and celebrated.

Still, ignorant as I was of its true provenance, and muddled as my thinking was about it, these failings did not prevent me from getting across the bridge. For in the meantime I did not neglect what was really necessary to make the passage: I found it, drove straight, stayed in the right lane, and kept going.

It was only years later, in a book review of a tome chronicling the bridge’s construction, that I learned its designer’s identity. And it was not long thereafter when it came to me that the bridge could serve as a parable of the work of Christ, as understood by early Quakers, and Progressive Christian Quakers today. And so I believe it can:

What if the bridge were comparable to the work of God through Jesus, as most Christians infer this from the New Testament, and getting across it meant being “saved”?

Why not? I wouldn’t mind if heaven looked a lot like San Francisco. And divine engineering is as mysterious to me as bridge construction. 

Across this bridge many souls have traveled from ordinary existence to “salvation,” in whatever form that ultimately takes.

And many of these souls, indeed maybe most, never knew any more about its true Designer than I did about Joseph Strauss. For that matter, many of them may have had wrong ideas about who designed it, thinking it was the work of anybody from Muhammad to Karl Marx to, as I half-consciously did, mother nature.

I draw two conclusions from this parable: First, those who thought such a bridge to heaven was made by Marx or Muhammad are indeed mistaken; in this story it was built by Christ and no other, just as the Golden Gate was designed by Strauss and not some other engineer. And those who know the True Designer’s identity are indeed better-informed about it, and may better understand the magnitude of the achievement it represents.

(After all, Joseph Strauss worked on the bridge for 18 years, from 1919 to 1937; to get it built, he overcame huge obstacles that involved politics and bureaucracy as well as nature and engineering. And he paid the price: as the bridge was nearing completion he suffered a breakdown, and he died in 1938, within a year of its opening.)

This information illuminates, but does not alter my second conclusion, which is that knowledge of the designer’s identity, while “very beneficial and inspiring” (as Barclay put it), is “not absolutely necessary….”  to getting across.

This fact does not, however, mean that “anything goes,” or that there is no doubt about getting across the bridge. Not at all. As the gospels say, “straight is the way and narrow the gate,” (Matthew 7:14) and that’s certainly true of the Golden Gate. 

To get across, whatever your notions about its origins, you need to find it, then drive straight, stay in lane, and keep going. Do that, and you’ll make it. Take a right or left turn out in the middle, and you’ll end up in the drink.

It is on the basis of the understanding expressed in this parable that I conclude that being a Christian can be completely consistent with also being a Progressive Quaker.

Q. Is This bridge Story Another One of Those Progressive Quaker Paradoxes?

Very likely. The parable is also consistent with Barclay’s schema in his Apology. A very thoughtful and underrated Christian Friend, the late Francis Hall, understood this. Writing in 1965, he affirmed that in Barclay’s theology, 

“Through Christ’s saving act the Light was released and it flowed out into every corner of the world and backward and forward into every moment of time. A measure of it came to dwell into the heart of every man [and woman], from whence it worked to be born and to bring new life to that man [or woman]. Salvation was the acceptance of the Light and the allowing of it to come to birth and to have sway. Thus, through a particular act, carried out by the person Jesus, in a particular moment of history, there came into the world a Universal Light, and with it the possibility of salvation for every man [and woman] who had ever lived or would ever live.”

Hall also notes that,

“Orthodox Christianity has maintained that no man [or woman] can be saved unless he [or she] has come to know literally the fact of Jesus the Christ and has come to accept him as savior. Barclay, on the other hand, strongly maintained that salvation is not dependent on this literal knowledge.”

Hall is clearly troubled by Barclay’s unorthodoxy in this matter, but he is too honest to ignore it. 

“Barclay makes no attempt whatsoever,” he admits, “to resolve the difficulties presented by these two sets of beliefs, both of which he fully holds…. Although he affirms his faith in the saving act of Christ it is a fact that the details of the life and teachings of Jesus play only a minor part in the total Apology….It is clear that Barclay did not succeed in truly synthesizing these two elements of his faith, but the problem is a profoundly difficult one for the Christian theologian. How does the Christian hold together his [or her] belief in the reality and uniqueness of the work of Jesus Christ, and his [or her] respect for the truth and power of the other great world religions?”

This is a crucial question.

Hall shows unusual candor in articulating this dilemma so clearly and facing it so squarely. He shows even more courage in his response, because he affirms that: “Barclay is not alone in failing to answer [it] adequately, for no other Christian thinker has successfully and finally created the synthesis, although many feel the need and are trying.” (Emphasis added.)

Francis Hall is little-known or remembered among Quaker writers of the twentieth century. This is unfortunate and unfair; we need to hear more of him.

The main reason, in my view, why orthodox Christian thinkers have not produced a synthesis of these tensions is because the paradox underlying them is built into the foundation of their tradition.

Am I saying that there is support for this Progressive line of thought in the Bible, particularly the Christian scriptures?

Yes, I am.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s visit the Gospels ourselves. . . .

Q. What’s All This About Jesus & Sheep & Goats?

To understand the early Quaker view of original Christianity, we need to begin at the end.

Not the end of the Bible, but the end of the world: The Last Judgment. That’s when we’re to find out who’s been “saved,” and why. However, there are a number of different versions of the last judgment in the Bible. Here we’re going to focus on Jesus’ version; after all, isn’t Jesus where a Christian should  turn?

Jesus describes the last judgment in detail in Matthew’s gospel, Chapter 25, verses 31-46. In this scenario the “Son of Man,” (who may or may not be Jesus himself) sits on a heavenly throne, and “all the nations will be gathered before him.” (v. 32)

The Son then separates this multitude into two groups, the favored “sheep” on his right, and the “goats” on his left. (What Jesus had against goats is an intriguing question, one explored very provocatively by Friend Jim Corbett in his fine book Goatwalking. But we can’t go into it here.)

The Son then tells the sheep that they are to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (34)

When they hear this, the “sheep” are surprised; what qualifies them for the kingdom, they wonder? Here we need to quote the full particulars:

“For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” (35-36).

To which the “righteous” respond with amazement: “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You…?” and on down the list. (37-39)

The Son’s answer is, “Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me.”(40)

Goats-let-in
Jesus is a liberal; so he reconsiders about the goats.

Then the “goats” are confronted with the same list, this time as an accusation, and because they failed to respond to the needs of “the least of these” (40-46) they are banished to the “everlasting fire.” (41)

This is a familiar passage, but one that I believe is commonly overlooked, or lumped in with other, quite disparate judgment scenarios in other biblical passages, so that its startling implications are overlooked or distorted.

The most important of these implications don’t come from what is in this passage, but rather what is NOT there.

Q. Why Didn’t Jesus Talk About Being “Saved” To Get Into “Heaven”?

If we recall the evangelical descriptions of the church cited earlier, there are some additional verses which logically ought to be in this passage, but are missing. For instance:

To the “sheep”: 

“Welcome, beloved, for you repented of your sins and accepted Jesus as your personal saviour.”
“For you then experienced the sanctifying baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
“And you were taken as a true believer into an authentic evangelical church.”

And likewise the “goats” (including non-Christians, Progressive Quakers and other “unbelievers”) are pronounced damned to burn in hell forever because they failed to meet these doctrinal and experiential requirements.

But in fact there is nothing of the kind in this crucial biblical passage; not even a whiff.

In other words, when Jesus describes the last judgment, doctrinal correctness and Christian identification are not even mentioned. They play no part whatever in separating the “sheep” and the “goats.”

This implication is strengthened by the fact that in this drama, the “sheep” and the “goats” are drawn, not from any one group of believers, but from among “all the nations.” In Jesus’ time a “nation” was as much a religious as what we would call a political entity. Thus, “all the nations” also amounts to “all the religions.”

What happened to the importance of being a sanctified “true believer”? Did these doctrinal requirements somehow slip Jesus’ mind when he described this detailed scenario? Was the whole “plan of salvation” the victim of a Divine fit of absent-mindedness?

I don’t think so. I believe Jesus was here describing a model of the “kingdom of heaven” and its entrance requirements that very closely resemble those of the Progressive Quaker vision of the Church, as described by Barclay and others. One reason I believe this is true is that there are numerous other sayings of Jesus in the gospels which make similar points.

Q. Did Jesus Talk Like a Progressive Anywhere Else?

Yes.

Take, for instance, Matthew 7:21-23, where Jesus denounces false prophets, and alludes to the judgment:

“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many wonders?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you: Depart from me, you who practice wickedness.’”

This is the same passage where he advises his followers that “you will know them by their fruits,” not by their words and affirmations of orthodoxy. (7:15-19) The clear thrust of this passage seems to me to provide the precedent for relativizing dogma and denomination in just the way Barclay does.

A similar conviction is reflected in the opening of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus is described as the “true light” which “enlightens everyone coming into the world.” (John 1:9)  Or the memorable moment in John where he tells his followers that, “By this shall all people know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” Not doctrine, not theology.

Q. What About The Good Samaritan? Wasn’t He a Good Christian?

 Not at all. He wasn’t even a good Jew. Yet the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), was told specifically in response to a question about how to be “saved” (10:25).

First off, note that nowhere in his response does Jesus mention heaven or an afterlife.  In this story, a succession of pillars of the religious orthodoxy from Jesus’ home community pass by a man lying beaten and robbed by the side of the road.

When finally a passerby is “moved with compassion,” (33) and gets help for the wounded man, it is a Samaritan, a member of a group despised as heretics and unbelievers by good Jews, who in fact refused to have any dealings with them. (John 4:9)

Further, nothing in this story suggests that the Samaritan ceased being a Samaritan and converted to Jewish or Christian orthodoxy when he helped the wounded man get to shelter and aid.

What then, is Jesus’ final answer to the question of how to be “saved”?

It is this: “Go thou and do likewise [as the despised and deluded heretic did].” (37)

(In other words: When you find the bridge to the “Kingdom of Heaven,” which may not be located where you expected it to be, drive straight, stay in lane, and keep going.)

Many other striking examples could be cited. But Bible study is not our purpose here, fascinating as such work can be. In sum, we can say that the Progressive Quaker model of the Church is amply supported by an appeal to scripture. According to Jesus’ own declaration, and contrary to the evangelical model, it is entirely possible to be “saved,” to “inherit eternal life,” to make it into the “kingdom of heaven,” or to be a “sheep” on judgment day, without having an explicit Christian experience or theology.

Q. But What About, “I Am The Way, The Truth & The Life”??

A critic might respond by citing other New Testament passages, such as: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me. (John 14:2) 

Or Acts 4:12, that “…there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved,.” 

Or Ephesians 4:4-5, “there is one body and one spirit…one lord, one faith, one baptism.”

Not to forget the one they love to flash at TV cameras on placards at ball games, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life.

Only-Way-2-HvnB-SM

Q. Are You Saying That The Bible Disagrees With Itself?

Many such passages, when carefully analyzed, can be shown to be not in fact as divergent as they seem at first reading. But an honest Progressive, listening to these and other counter quotes, would be obliged to nod and agree that, yes, there are other views than ours that also have their biblical voices.

But that’s because there was theological diversity, even among those who wrote the New Testament texts, just as there is among its readers and interpreters today.

This fact does not dismay the Progressives, or debunk their interpretations; they are at home with the notion of a plurality of theologies within the Bible.

(Another example; in many passages, the Bible accepts slavery. And yet, one of its central stories and images (the Exodus), is a saga of liberation from slavery. This “diversity” [or tension] may help account for why the earliest Friends accepted slavery, but after a century of study and seeking, they came to affirm the liberating themes as formative for their witness.)

An evolving sense of scripture is of a piece with the Progressive preference for unfolding experience over settled doctrine. It also fits the reality of the richly diverse, paradoxical, and often contradictory scriptural texts.

It is others who insist that the Bible offers a seamless, unified theological message, which turns out to fit their creedal formulations, even though Christians have been arguing about just what that unified theology is ever since before the New Testament texts were declared scripture.

Q. What Did Barclay Say About These Biblical Complexities & Uncertainties?

Barclay was well aware of all this. He dealt at length in the Apology with the fact of differing interpretations of scripture. His survey moved him to a cry of anguish:

“What of the endless wars, rebellions and insurrections with which Europe has been plagued in many ages because scripture and reason were used as the pretenses? Heretics have been burnt and blood has been shed by those who said that reason persuaded them, tradition allowed them, or the scriptures commanded them to do so.” (Freiday, p. 42) He added that “it is obvious how necessary it is to seek the certitude of the scriptures in the Spirit, and nowhere else. The infinite arguments and endless contention of those who seek their authority elsewhere are the best proof that this is so.” 

The abundant pluralism and discrepancies in the biblical texts, not to mention among its interpreters, leaves any particular faith community few real options for dealing with it. A group can absolutize some authority figure’s view of its meaning. Or it can weigh the text in the light of its own individual and collective experience of the spirit, determine thereby which biblical strands and themes are most meaningful, and take its stand accordingly. Any such understanding, moreover, is inherently provisional, confessional rather than doctrinal. It is all but certain to change as experience and study also evolve. This latter is the Progressive Quaker position.

Q. So, Bottom Line: Is Progressive Quakerism Christian? Or Not? Or Could It Be Both?

If Quakerism is not required to be explicitly or exclusively Christian, does that mean Christianity is irrelevant to it, as some suggest nowadays?

Not at all.

A wise Jewish writer, Arthur Waskow, described Judaism as a community of “godwrestlers,” based on the story in Genesis 32. In that story, Jacob wrestles with God all night and is not defeated. As a reward, he is given the new name of Israel, which means “the God-wrestler.” 

How has this story shaped  Jewish worship and practice? Waskow says, that in his community,“We do not simply accept the tradition. But we do not reject it either. We wrestle it…” 

The same applies here. The best of Progressive Quakerism neither mindlessly accepts nor casually rejects Christianity.

On the one side, I believe Progressive Quakerism is intimately related to Christianity in at least four important ways, none of which can be safely disregarded. Let’s examine these connections.

Q. In What Ways IS Progressive Quakerism “Christian”?

First, whatever else it may be, Quakerism is clearly Christogenic:

It took shape within, and emerged from the religious experience and cultural history of Christianity. However unorthodox it may have been–and I think it was plenty–Quakerism was given voice by women and men who used Christian language, imagery and texts both as a matter of course and as a matter of conviction.

These are all items of historical record, no matter how richly ambiguous that record might be when closely examined. Yet the marks of Quakerism’s heritage remain indelibly upon it. If we would understand our faith fully, it behooves us to understand more about Christianity.

Second, when this heritage is taken into account, it shows that Quakerism is unmistakably Christomorphic, or Christian in its shape and design.

That is, its institutions and processes reflect explicit efforts to recreate and practice what early Friends like William Penn regarded as “primitive Christianity revived.” Wherever we look, from its (small “c”) “catholic” view of the church, to unprogrammed worship, through the peace testimony, the growing concern for equality of sex and race, to decisions by sense of the meeting–we can see that its major elements were consciously modeled on what early Friends thought were the features of Christian community at its best.

To be sure, each of these represents an interpretation which departed radically from orthodoxy; and such reinterpretation of Christianity continues today, often in ways that are not immediately recognizable from an orthodox standpoint. But the links are there, to be learned from by all who would bring out the best of Quaker potential.

Learning brings us to the third connection, namely that Quakerism at its best is Christagogic, that is, it continues to have much that it can learn from Christianity, its founder, and its larger biblical context.

This feature may well be the most important, because it seems to me closest to Jesus’ own method. I have argued in my book, Wisdom and Your Spiritual Journey, that Jesus acted above all like a teacher-sage in the mold of biblical Wisdom. Teaching, particularly by example, was what wisdom sages did; and learning was above all the proper response of wisdom’s pupils. Certainly Jesus’ teachings, as recorded in the Gospels, and particularly the parables, continue to repay reflection and study. Further, such study is consistent with the attitude of independence of dogmatic systems which is also a feature of both biblical wisdom and Progressive Quaker faith.

And finally in this list, Quakerism at its best is Christophilic, that is, respectfully friendly, even affectionate toward the parent tradition which gave it birth, which shaped its practice, and from which it still has so much to learn. Such an attitude need not, indeed should not, be uncritical or sentimental.

Q. And In What Ways Is Quakerism NOT Christian?

On the other hand, there are two additional, negative features of the relationship of Quakerism and Christianity which also deserve mention here, for what it is not can be as important as what it is. Specifically,

Authentic Quakerism at its best has avoided Christolatry; that is, the Society’s mainstreams have maintained a highly critical relationship to the creeds and systems which have grown up in the various orthodox versions of Christianity like barnacles on a ship. Such Christolatry, the making an idol of one version or another of Christian theology, is still very much with us today, and has a lot to do with why many Progressive Friends have trouble with Christianity.

At the same time, Quakerism at its best will not be found to be Christophobic. I say “at its best” advisedly, because among Progressive Quakers today, there are frequent expressions of anti-Christian sentiment. Such outbursts are unfortunate, even if often understandable; but they are no more part of legitimate Quaker faith than is anti-semitism or any other kind of prejudice.

None of these features of the relationship between Quakerism and Christianity changes the character of the Society as outlined by Barclay and others.

The Progressive Quaker view of the Church reflects not only its understandings of scripture and Christian history, its appropriation of Barclay and early Friends, but also its own experience and discernment. 

Well, there’s lots more about all these subjects that could be explored here. But this closing segment is long enough. So other FAQs can await other collections. In the meantime, keep reading, keep exploring, and hang on to the answers you discover.

FAQ-Cover-ClipThis post is adapted from the booklet, “Some Quaker FAQs,” by Chuck Fager. 

More information about it is here  

For Further Reading

Boulton, David. Godless for God’s Sake: Non-theism in Contemporary Quakerism. Non-theist Friends, 2006.

Boulton, David. The Trouble With God: Building the Republic of Heaven. John Hunt Publishing, 2005.

Brinton, Howard. “The Revival Movement in Iowa,” Bulletin of Friends Historical Assn., Vol. 50, No. 2, Autumn, 1961.

Corbett, Jim. Goatwalking: A Guide to Wildland Living

Penguin 1992.

Dandelion, Pink. The Quakers: A Very Short Introduction,

Oxford U. Press, 2008. 

(EFC-ER) Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region. Faith and Practice. 1983 revision. [Canton, OH: EFC-ER]

Fager, Chuck. Remaking Friends: How Progressive Friends Changed Quakerism & Helped Save America. Kimo Press. 2014.

Fager, Chuck. Shaggy Locks & Birkenstocks. Essays in

 Liberal Quaker History. Kimo Press, 2003.

Fager, Chuck. Without Apology: The Heritage, The Heroes

&  The Hope of Liberal Quakerism.  Kimo Press, 2005.

Freiday, Dean, Ed. Barclay’s Apology in Modern English.

Philadelphia: Friends Book Store, 1967.

Gulley, Philip. If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every

Person. HarperOne, 2010.

Gulley, Philip. If The Church Were Christian: Rediscovering

the Values of Jesus. HarperOne, 2010.

King, Rachel Hadley. George Fox and the Light Within. Philadelphia PA: Friends Book Store, 1940.

Hall, Francis B. “The Thought of Robert Barclay, An Evaluation,” Quaker Religious Thought, Spring, 1965.

Hamm, Thomas. “Joel Bean and the Revival in Iowa,” Quaker

History, Vol. 76, No. 1, Spring 1987.

Hamm, Thomas. The Transformation of American Quakerism. Indiana U. Press, 1992.

King, Sallie B. A Quaker Response to Christian Fundamentalism. Baltimore Yearly Meeting, 2003.

London Yearly Meeting. Christian faith and practice in the
experience of the Society of Friends.  London, UK: London Yearly Meeting, 1959 edition.

Mott. Edward. “Pertinent Observations: The problem of Unity,’” The Northwest Friend, 4/1946.

(PH) Pendle Hill, Realignment, Nine Views Among Quakers. Monday Evening Lecture Series, Autumn, 1991. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill, 1992.

Schmidt, Leigh. Restless Souls, The Making of American

Spirituality. Harper One, 2006.

Tolles & Alderfer. The Witness of William Penn. Macmillan, 1957.

Trueblood, D. Elton. Robert Barclay. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.

Waskow, Arthur. Godwrestling. New York: Schocken, 1978.

Whittier, John Greenleaf. Whittier’s Complete Poetical Works. Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin, 1894 edition.

And . . .

Consult the bibliographies in these books for many more.

Read the journal Quaker Theology, in print or free online at: www.quakertheology.org

One more thing: 

Don’t forget the Bible.

5 thoughts on “FAQs for Friends– Part #9 (The Last Part): Jesus & The Golden Gate Bridge”

  1. Chuck, this article is very insightful, gets beyond the usual divides, and, hopefully will build buildges with some of opposite side in NCYM.

  2. You certainly have given me cause to pause with your logic and research into this excellent piece of dialectic theology. Your ideas are without a doubt well considered and useful for Quakers who need the language and supporting scripture to articulate their beliefs.
    Having served Christianity since birth and having experienced salvation at age 5, I found Christianity to be profoundly confusing with a scattering of comfort and a sense of the presence of God. For 63 years, I endured the faith as best I could stepping out in faith at one point to do

    God’s will without even the guarantee of income.
    There are some theologians before you, Chuck, that make the faith palatable and wonderful to celebrate and read but as I’ve said to you in writing and conversation, the problem for Christianity is not theology it is behavior.

    There is, in the system of Christianity too many opportunities for predatory and psychotic behavior that can be rationalized with as good or even superior theological reasoning than yours. We have encountered a small sampling of that in the behavior of North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends (FUM). All that is missing are the Inqusitional instruments of persuasion or the Calvanistic method of deportation and shunning (Which actually happened to me as a pastor in an NCYM meeting).

    Specific Christians and Christian groups have been compassionate, loving and astonishingly Christ-like over the last two centuries but a huge portion of the Christian movement has behaved badly and justified it with effective rational as well constructed as yours.

    Good luck with your continued journey in the Kingdom of Christ, Friend. Behave yourself.

    1. “There is, in the system of Christianity too many opportunities for predatory and psychotic behavior that can be rationalized with as good or even superior theological reasoning than yours.”

      Dude, check my newest blog post from “Meetings,” and you might see that I’ve had some experience with these “opportunities” even outside Quakerdom. That may have something to do with my resistance to that spirit within Friends groups.. . . Can’t help it; my karma keeps running over my dogma . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *