Follow-Up: Quaker Struggles

Oh, how I have enjoyed thy comments! I am experiencing a sense that the Holy Spirit is working still. Seekers, keep seeking. The end is in sight. Those wallowing in complacency: Enjoy the burr under the saddle.

Don’t think for a moment that my own church is not guilty of sin. God help us, we are mired in it. Sins of complacency; sins of luxury. Lies and deceptions and abuses. I have a daily prayer struggle to keep going with it. I have tried to leave but could never quite get out of the yard. Well, let your light so shine.

I found as thy comments came in that there was a sense of growing in the Spirit, an attempt to define and hold on to something that has been so intangible.  Quakers were the Spirit-led Anglicans, and they were led right out of the steeple houses and into something else. But remember the old Buddhist saying: When you find yourself in a place, do not be easily moved from it.

And to add to that: The Dalai Lama spoke recently in Toronto. Among the things he said, which may surprise some and not surprise others, is that Westerners should stay with their own religion. There is enlightenment there.

It is never an easy road to walk, following Christ. It is never easy to hear painful Truth. And Jesus said this: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”

There is nothing less at stake than thy Life and His eternal Love. He would not see any of us die eternally. God did not make His creation to perish but to Live, and to Live eternally as He is eternal.

If thee is wavering in thy commitment to Christ, if thee is unsure if He is what thee seeks, then the answer is Yes. Commit, for He is the answer. There isn’t another one. One Truth. One Love.

Don’t wait until thee is certain. Thee will never know the fullness of Him. Be with the desperate father who cried to Jesus, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” That man didn’t wait, didn’t look for further explanations. He simply went to Jesus and cried in fear of losing his child. Thee is that man; thee is that child.

Fall in love with Jesus and thee will get to know Him.


On Swearing Oaths

We moderns are quite ready and willing to swear oaths, either on entering service in the military or government, or in the court of Law. We swear to uphold the laws of the nation, or protect the common good, or tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Quakers refused to swear oaths. It was something of a hallmark of a Friend, this refusal to put one hand on the Bible, raise the other, and make an oath of loyalty or truthfulness.

I was interested many years ago, in my early teens, I believe, by a story I read of a Quaker woman who was called into court, and astounded the judge by refusing to swear on the Bible. I have no idea now who the author was, or the theme of the story itself, but the narrator’s mother was the woman on the stand, and it was probably my first encounter with Quaker ways, beyond the incidentals of New England living, where there were still active Quaker meetings. I loved the idea of being so outspoken for one’s beliefs, of standing up for the Truth in such a way that one is offended at being asked to make an oath.

For the Quakers follow the Epistle of St. James, Chapter 5, verse 12: “Above all, my brothers, do not swear by heaven or by the earth or use any oaths at all. If thee means ‘yes’ thee must say ‘yes;’ if thee means ‘no,’ say ‘no.’ Otherwise thee makes thyself liable to judgment.” In other words, be honest in all thy words and deeds, and the oath will be unnecessary. One cannot hide behind the oath and colour the intent of one’s words! And why should Christians fear the hand of the law, and assure the court that we mean what we say, and we say what we mean? Be Plain in speech, not just in the formal sense, but in thy meaning itself! Speak clearly and without pretension or vanity, and in the Spirit of Truth.

I am uncomfortable with taking an oath of loyalty, as if I might be tempted to back out if the going got tough. “I will” should be enough, and it unnecessary to say “I vow.” I have taken such oaths, when it was made a contigency of continuing my vocation, but now I think not. If I stand in the presence of God, would I not be terrified to do other than speak truthfully of my intent? But God save me from temptation! for this is not to be said in vanity, but in Truth.