I have had time to reflect upon your comment regarding Anglicans finding God within their Anglican faith/identity. Despite what I said of the dilemma which dual membership might cause, I have to admit that Anglicans largely provide the "spiritual energy" of our Meeting. I was at Meeting for Worship today and the most wondeful ministry was provided by somebody with dual membership who overcame considerable obstacles to attend. He has been in a nursing home, and overcame great obstacles to attend Meeting. He had to be helped to his feet, but he thanked God for his time of indisposition as it had given him an opportunity to read the bible, converse with christian nurses, and realise the great debt he owes to Christ Jesus as his friend and saviour. He is a committed Quaker, but this particular pathway to the truth had been an opening for him. God does indeed speak to us in varied ways.
If you had asked me a couple of years ago whether we should be working with other religious groups I would have said no. However, being involved in ecumenical work has taught me a great lesson. I am particularly impressed by the great enthusiasm which so many evangelical groups have for the Gospel. Our view of the Everlasting Gospel may differ from theirs, but many within those groups seem willing to be open to what we are saying about the nature of Jesus and what that can mean to our lives. The parable of the mustard seed comes to mind. We have fertile ground to cultivate here. Maybe it is better to look to that, rather than concentrate on the died in the wool atheists/humanists who seem to have so much influence in BYM.
Thanks for the comment Stuart, concerning John Howard Yoders. I am, or rather was, aware of him, largely due to his connection with Karl Jaspers.Of course he was treated as a pariah for some time, due to his allegedly over-zealous attitude towards his students. I might be naive, but hasn't this been par for the course among certain academics for centuries. You have awoken an interest, and I am incined to take a serious look at his work.
I am mindful of our need to reach out to other Christians. The situation in which we find ourselves today is very different to that which Lewis Benson felt called to address. His Quaker world was a very christian world, although he saw it as having lost touch with the original revelation of George Fox. These days, in Britain, Christianity is generally very weak. Its strength however lies within the growing black communities, especially those composed of recent immigrants from West Africa. We should be seeking dialogue with them, as well as with the few African Quakers who are here. I am sure we all pray that the conference will be fruitful.
Thank you Malcolm. I can sympathise with Lewis Benson's concerns. In ecumenical dialogue there can be a very real temptation to concede too much in the name of unity. I am committed to communicating the distinctive Quaker understanding of early Friends without being unreasonably sectarian. Obviously with Methodists, as with all Protestants, there are the usual problems of the outward sacraments, set apart clergy (although this is a far from a simple issue in the Wesleyan tradition) and the primacy of biblical authority. The issue of engagement with Christians in the Black community is an interesting one. I believe that first generation Friends were in many ways proto Pentecostal. This might provide a basis for dialogue.
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