Four questions about evangelism

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Johan Maurer

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Feb 17, 2013, 10:28:58 AM2/17/13
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[This post and its responses were at the heart of my work at Woodbrooke in 2003-04.]

November 14 2003 at 11:41 AM Johan   (no login)
I have crafted these four questions (or clusters of questions) as simply and open-endedly as I could in order to make them communicate over a fairly wide spectrum. I would be very grateful if you would give your own answers, either privately to me by e-mail, or, even better, right here as a response to this topic.

Also, please pass these questions along to others whose answers could prove valuable in keeping the conversation going.

How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?
How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?
In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?
In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

Peter C. Snow 
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Four questions November 17 2003, 12:38 PM 

#1. To a non-christian the concept of salvation from sin may be foreign but the idea that human beings are not capable of living lives of joy, peace, security and fulfillment is very evident. That one needs help from a higher power is logical so then evangelism is the promotion of the idea/concept that help from a higher power is available/necessary. The scripture points to that higher power of God and His son Jesus Christ. If one believes what the scripture says then logically acceptance of Christ as one's Lord/Savior follows. As many things in life, the "proof of the pudding is in the eating". When one experiences conversion/salvation/rebirth/born again then the understanding is realised.

#2. Considering the above explanation it would seem that one could not be a Christian with out knowing the concepts above and having experienced the confession of personal sin and the resultant joy of salvation. Theological comprehension isn't necessarily a prerequisite to experienceing the saving power of the Holy Spirit by the acceptance of Christ as Savior.

#3. Friend's distinctives should be secondary to the primary experience of salvation. These distinctives should be and are a natural outgrowth of experiencing the love of Christ in our innermost being. As I once said in a faculty meeting at GFU, Friends distinctives may be subtle or obscure but they are real and make a powerful difference in the follower of Christ and in the ways in which one lives out their Christian witness.

#4. Having attended several Friends Meetings since a child I would say that the focus on evangelism was primary. Proclamation of the saving power of Christ by preaching/witnessing and acceptance of Christ as Savior by the individual was the primary starting point of the Christian life. There have been Friends who seem to emphasize/elevate other aspects of Friends belief. But only after one has realized the saving power/love of Christ does one have the motivation to realize the peace witness, life in Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, love for ones neighbor, relief of suffering, compassion for the poor, concern for the souls of the lost (mission work), etc.

Hope these answers to the questions help. I've had a concern for quite some time that in the current religious climate much of the focus has been on the more dramatic/emotional aspects and that we as Friends need to re-focus on the more urgent/necesary parts of our beliefs. Friends have always made a difference both locally, nationally and internationally and we need to train our children and inform our constituency/membership. 

Peter Snow (on the way to becoming an aged Friend) 

 
Johan 
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Response to Peter Snow March 19 2004, 1:34 PM 

Thank you for providing the first response! It has been months since you wrote, and I'm only now starting to make regular public responses to people's comments. I figure it is time to stop worrying about whether I'd bias the contributions with my own comments.

I was intrigued by your saying that "... in the current religious climate much of the focus has been on the more dramatic/emotional aspects and that we as Friends need to re-focus on the more urgent/necesary parts of our beliefs. Friends have always made a difference both locally, nationally and internationally and we need to train our children and inform our constituency/membership." I've been more worried about a lack of emotional freedom among Friends, but your words reminded me of the late Barry Hollister observing dubiously that Friends seemed to have turned away from a commitment to global and community ministry in favor of self-help fascinations. The intuitive, almost naive, direct connection some Friends made between being a follower of Christ and being a disciple IN and FOR the world (although not OF the world) often seems to be lacking now. Maybe we're too busy theorizing.
 
 
John and Marjorie Scott
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Re: Four questions about evangelism November 25 2003, 11:40 AM 

Evangelism and the Quaker Testimonies. A response by John and Marjorie Scott

Question 1

Being evangelical is to witness in the written and spoken word, but most of all in deeds, to the ‘Good News’ of the ministry of Jesus encompassing the revelation of the nature of God as Love, his vision of The Kingdom of God on earth; the significance of his death on the cross and the promise of ‘life’ after death. We would see the need to differentiate between this and Bible literalism.

Question 2.

Ex Anglicans, our present ideas about evangelism, instructed by our Quaker insights would place emphasis on the importance of being a living witness to The Truth in our personal every day behaviour. In the present age we doubt the value of preaching, and proselytising to convince others of The Truth, although we would grant that the ways to The Truth are diverse. We do see the need to gently advertise the existence of The Religious Society of Friends, but not through ranting. Of course, we favour our conservative form of silent Worship, when it is a genuine ‘waiting on the Lord, as an excellent evangelical statement in itself, but do not deny the need of others for different forms of worship.

Question 3. 

Nearly the whole of our lives, during times of high faith and low, even at one time, of none, we have spent much of our time and effort improving the lot of others through political, trade union and charitable activities. This is an activity in pursuit of the realisation at an early age of the great Jesus vision of the Kingdom on Earth. Much in the manner as the early visionary Quakers who were gripped by this same motivation. We do not know about an introduction to British Friends Christian faith because the beliefs of the majority of Friends are not clear to us. We ourselves have come through a period of agnosticism about the divinity of Jesus to the conclusion that calling ourselves Quaker means believing that Jesus was much more than a special human being or teacher. We therefore would affirm that Christ should be at the centre of our personal witness. We would probably seek to avoid the Bible language of the past to express this. Even though social concerns remain at the forefront

Question 4.

The history of Britain (formally London Yearly Meeting) was for us at its best when the Spirit of Christ was most evident in its activities. Perhaps this is an inevitable process with human institutions but when the fiery determination of the first and second generation of Friends to convince the World of The Truth in the Light of Christ passed on to succeeding, quieter generations the revolutionary heat subsided. The elemental discovery by George Fox that Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God is not only present in every human being but is alive, well and communicating, needs to be understood and reinforced over and over again in the human mind. Are we right to doubt if this essential refreshment is readily available now in Britain Yearly Meeting? 
Whilst we are sure that The Truth impinges on every person in a different manner, we are concerned that extreme individualism in B.Y.M. will result in ineffectual and infertile anarchy. An important part of a positive evangelism is the public action of the Church to put into effect the Jesus concern for the poor, the oppressed, those who suffer, the sick, for those who are unjustly accused and imprisoned.

Signed, John and Marjorie Scott, Acomb, P.M., York M.M. from Ramallah on 25.11.2003.
 

Johan 
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Response to John and Marjorie Scott March 24 2004, 6:15 PM 

Many thanks for your service in Ramallah.

You are right at least to be concerned and wonder whether "... this essential refreshment [of the ongoing presence of Christ] is readily available now in Britain Yearly Meeting...." I am benefitting this year from the wonderful generosity of one of the independent institutions within the Yearly Meeting (namely Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre) but the Yearly Meeting as a whole seems to be something almost entirely different from the movement begun by George Fox and his friends.

Nor do I see dramatically effective social justice outreach - that is, outreach that is so effective that the small numbers in the yearly meeting don't matter. There is great dedication to several social concerns, but the impact is so limited because both the numbers of people and the budgets involved are so small. I wonder how many in the yearly meeting actually know how much prophetic as well as palliative work is being done by people who are not ashamed to be identified wholeheartedly as Christians. It is also sad to see Friends, when addressing diversity, to be focusing almost exclusively on sexual and theological diversity and leaving racial, economic and cultural diversity to more conservative Christian groups.

 
Alvin and Lucy Anderson
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Re: Four questions about evangelism November 26 2003, 5:52 PM 

Greetings, Friend Johan Maurer!
Thank you for including us in your project. Lucy & I will try to answer the questions from our perspective.
1. Evangelism among unbelievers is sharing with others that God has solutions to our problems and that God's solutions are truly for our benefit.
2. The same among believers. Point them to the "Great Commission".
3. Both. The presentation of Christ's teachings and atonement would not be complete if ethical and social concerns were overlooked. But the ethical and social concerns that Jesus taught were not necessarily the same as the concerns that are based on politically correct practices today.
4. Yes, this was the basis of community life among Friends. They were a separate and distinct people who chose God's way instead of following the fads of their day.

Alvin & Lucy Anderson
members, Canton First Friends Church
 

Florence Peery
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Re: Four questions about evangelism November 30 2003, 2:23 PM 

1. How do you explain evangelism to a nonbeliever -

It is the good news that God is creator of the universe and its people and that He loves us with an undying love. He wants us to acknowledge that we are sinful creatures who need His help to change. We have to turn our lives around, surrender our selfish natures to Him and ask for His help. Then the help He gives frees us from the temptations we face and allows us to grow closer to Him.

2. I don't see any difference in how I would say it other than I would use their terms, like repent, grace, justification and santification. If these were fuzzy to them, I would explain their meanings. Many evangelicals use the terms, but they don't understand them.

3. I think it depends upon with whom you are discussing it. If they are evangelical, then start with the central role of Christ. If they are liberal, you start with the issues which Jesus speaks about in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere in the Gospels and what He requires of us His followers.Then you talk about how we find His presence to help us with living.

The reason I would do it that way is because an evangelical is less likely to hear you if you start with the issues, and a liberal is less likely to hear you if you start with Christ.

4. Again, it depends upon with whom you are talking. One third to one half of Western you would start with the centrality of Christ (when this whole struggle in Western is settled we will know the proportions better) For the rest you would begin with the other approach.

I wish each could see that they are all part of the same Christian Gospel - just accenting different aspects.


Florence Peery
 

Johan 
(no login)
Response to Florence Peery March 27 2004, 3:52 PM 

Although I know a little about the current conflict in Western, I'm not qualified to comment publicly about it. There was a time (when I was general secretary of FUM, for example) when I got the sense that, by having to keep up with the politics of our yearly meetings, I simply knew too much about too little. The tired arguments between liberals and evangelicals didn't reveal anyone who was passionate about opening the doors of a living faith to new people who needed that faith. Of course I'm oversimplifying; some of the issues are important, and some of the people involved do have the needs of oppressed people in mind. But how do we convert our conflicts into conflicts about HOW WE HELP GOD'S PROMISES COME ALIVE FOR THOSE NOT YET AWARE OF THEM???
 

Ben Richmond
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Re: Four questions about evangelism December 3 2003, 1:59 PM 

> 1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?
>

Here is an "it depends" question. How I would try to explain evangelism to a nonbeliever would depend on how the subject came up. For instance, is my nonbelieving inquirer, in fact, my atheistic but politically radical cousin? or a Buddhist Quaker? For my cousin, I might say that evangelism is about organizing people into communities that are shaped by the radical teachings of Jesus. To my imaginary Buddhist Quaker, I might say that evangelism is about introducing people to their Inward Teacher, Jesus. It would also depend about whether I was really trying to explain "evangelism" (the process or concept) or trying to "evangelize" these dear people. If the latter, the stumbling block in both cases, as far as my experience goes, is the question, "Why Jesus?" My cousin goes along with ethics of Jesus, and even acknowledges that religious language and faith is an effective motivator of personal and social change. But he is too enlightened to need such props. So, I resort to relating the personal experience of inward healing by Jesus. This is intriguing to him, but he shows no signs of making the leap of faith. For my hypothetical Buddhist, I might talk about having found in Jesus the one reliable spiritual guide, the one who reveals the loving heart of God at the center of the universe. I'm not sure that a good Buddhist would buy that idea, but if he or she did, it would be Good News! So, in these cases, I see that my explanation of evangelism revolves around presenting the possibility of a transformed life and a healing encounter with the source of love, plus an invitation to test that possibility out.

> 2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?
>

I'm taken by the text of the Lausanne Covenant:

4. THE NATURE OF EVANGELISM
To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sin and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gift of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialog whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Savior and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world.

1 Cor. 15:34; Acts 2:32-39; John 20:21; 1 Cor. 1:23; 2 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:11,20; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 8:34; Acts 2:40,47; Mark 10:43-45

Whether this is helpful to a Christian who is not a theologian, I'm not sure. The final sentence about the results of evangelism strike me as particularly important: obedience, incorporation into the community of faith, service. As C. Peter Wagner pointed out, this was written specifically to refute a notion of evangelism as simply proclamation of doctrine. To say that someone or some group has been "evangelized," one must actually have results in transformed lives!

> 3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?
>

My feeling is that the "historical, biblical Christ" referenced by the Lausanne Covenant is almost impossible to present without reference to Friends testimonies. For instance, there is no Jesus of Nazareth (who is the very image of God) who did not also say, "But I say to you, Love your enemies," or "everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." In this North American culture, at least, the individualistic and often nationalistic image of Christianity makes any proclamation of "Christ" that is seperated from his actual teachings and healing ministry suspect. If you invite someone to faith in a Christ who o.k.s violent retaliation against enemies or the commodification of women (or men) as sex objects, then it is some other Christ than the Christ of scripture.

For that reason, and because I think that Jesus modeled the idea that responding to people's actual needs comes first, I would say that evangelism always needs to present the fruit of the spirit first: inward healing, peace (inwardly or in society or among nations), equality (in relationships whether in the home or in society), freedom from materialism and the reduction of human purpose to consumption, etc., etc. The idea is to touch into the yearning for which Jesus, the Risen and Living Son of God, supplies the answer. The flip side of this is also true: it would never do to focus our presentation of Friends faith and practice on ethics or politics (I understand Friends are now listing the testimonies by the acronym SPICE -- simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality), as if these "values" stood on their own. To be evangelical (or, let us say, realistic), we have to acknowledge we cannot acheive any of this without supernatural help. It is a good idea to keep the "and" in faith and practice.

So, I'm playing with the idea of outreach ads that would say something like, "Is the pace of life just too much? Be still and know that I am God." or "Can you imagine Jesus killing his enemies? Neither can we." And then an invitation to contact a Friends website. The point is to touch on the ethical and social concern as a hook that can point to Jesus, and even more importantly to a faith community in which (it is to be hoped) Jesus can be found.

I don't suppose that this is very different from more conservative church's idea of evangelism. I'm thinking of sample TV ads I've seen from a group called, "Faith Highway." The difference, I suspect is that I would advocate including the SPICE issues as well as the family togetherness and sexual ethics that they deal with. So, in a sense, I think the dichotomy that is often presented dividing evangelism and social concern is bogus. The question is whether we are willing to reflect the full range of Jesus' teaching, or to restrict it to the so-called "family values" fraction of his vision.

This does contrast with the fundamentalist vision of evangelism which primarily presents the Good News as a requirement to profess faith in Jesus in order to be saved from a future of hellfire. I repudiate that as magic rather than faith, and as sub-Christian. It represents a profound misreading of God's holiness and the atonement.

> 4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?
>
I'm pretty ignorant on this. My sense is that the earliest Friends of Indiana Yearly Meeting were pretty influenced by quietism and didn't do much public presentation of Friends F&P. West Richmond, on the other hand, was profoundly influenced by Allen Jay and various other leaders who were followers of the Social Gospel movement.
 
  
Dorlan Bales 
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Thanks, Ben March 6 2004, 11:16 AM 

Ben, I appreciate your well-considered response to Johan's questions, and agree that our Quaker approach to individuals should be tailored to the evangelist, the inquirer, and the situation. Thanks too for encuraging Friends to create two-sentence outreach ads that will connect with the experience of unchurched people and draw them in.

I like the recent SPICE acronym as a way to summarize important Quaker testimonies, and agree with you and other forum contributors who say that the Society of Friends is not founded on ethical insights, but on inward encounter with the Spirit of God (best personified by Jesus of Nazareth) that inspired these ideals. Regular meeting for worship that encourages our connection with the Holy Spirit is foundational.
 
  
Johan 
(no login)
Response to Ben Richmond March 24 2004, 6:32 PM 

Many Friends say something along the lines of Florence Peery's point, "I wish each [i.e., both 'liberals' and 'evangelicals'] could see that they are all part of the same Christian Gospel - just accenting different aspects" - namely the central role of Christ and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount.

If I understand you correctly, you're coming down firmly on the necessity to lead out with the fruits (the testimonies). The spiritual roots are immediately present as well, but they are what nurtures our expression of the fruits and what keeps integrity in our communication, rather than being the central, narrow focus of what we say.

One of the immediate implications of this for me is the need to do evangelism WITHIN the Friends church!! Do we in fact believe that spiritually-empowered fruits will happen? Has the functional atheism identified by Parker Palmer, which I've seen in ALL the branches of Friends, not yet reached fatal dimensions among us? I see many examples of good, sensible but not particularly Spirit-led outreach work among Friends, and I see some examples of a sort of Quaker piety as well, but you're talking about something different from either.
 
  
Joan Browne (Kingston, Jamaica)
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism December 8 2003, 1:08 AM 

1.  Explain evangelism for the non-believer
Just as one who believes strongly in any cause zealously advocates for the cause, so evangelism means zealously spreading and adhering to the gospel of Jesus Christ, as outlined in the New Testament. That is why George Fox founded the Quakers; this is our mission and purpose. Jesus summed up his directives: Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.
We acknowledge that "evangelism" has taken on some negative connotations, because some people have behaved like Christian terorists while calling themselves "evangelists"; others have behaved as though making much noise and quoting the New Testament are what evangelism is all about, but adhering to the gospel is every but as important than talking about it: "What you do speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you say!"
I would use quotes from Jesus' own words to illustrate, without getting into questions that depend on faith, such as His divinity, resurrection, etc., 

2.  Explain evangelism for the Christian layperson
I would use a similar approach to #1, except that I would say that, as Christians, we feel moved to share the comfort of being emancipated by our belief in Jesus with our fellow human beings, especially those who are unhappy and unfortunate. It is our Christian duty to evangelise. I would not have to explain in such detail what Jesus said.

3.  Which should come first: ethical and social concerns or the central role of Christ?
I always start with ethical and social concerns, as I can always find common ground here. What differs is what I put forward as the basis for behaviour in response to these concerns. 
If I am speaking to committed Christians, or those who profess to be such, I remind them of the central role of Jesus, that Jesus is the model on which their lives should be based, and that we are called to do God's will, as expounded by Jesus. Too many of us Christians often forget the "forgive those who trespass against us" part or the "love your neighbour as yourself" part. They are, however, willing to acknowledge the central role of Christ. We need to be reminded of the implications of this.
If I am speaking to non-Christians, I take a humanistic approach: what Jesus put forward in His words in the Gospels is a blueprint for a better world, for a gentler, more peaceful way of relating to one another, and illustrate generously with quotes.

4.  Did early Friends in your Meeting consider #3? How did they answer it?
I do not have the advantage of having been around during the early days of Jamaican Quakerism. My answer is that any study of George Fox and the early Quakers shows clearly that their priority was to follow the directives of Jesus as outlined in the New Testament, and to model their lives on His. Judging by the readings and history which I have seen, Christ-centred lives meant attention to ethical and social concerns. That's why Quakers were known for their integrity and compassion. I frankly don't think they even thought about which came first - they were two parts of one whole.
 

Johan
(no login)
Response to Joan Browne March 29 2004, 12:33 PM 

Joan, hello again! I'm very glad you're part of this conversation.

You said, "Too many of us Christians often forget the 'forgive those who trespass against us' part or the 'love your neighbour as yourself' part. They are, however, willing to acknowledge the central role of Christ. We need to be reminded of the implications of this."

Under the message topic, "Identity and evangelism," I argued that "people observably seem to need formation and models on the way to maturity in Christ." This is a way of saying that we need to be reminded concretely of the implications of the central role of Christ. To me, this is a crucial aspect of waking Friends up to the urgency of evangelism. We need to work on being prepared to greet newcomers with a coherent explanation of why we care, and a corporate life that lives up to the promises implied in our outreach message ... or else we evangelize in vain.

Not everyone agrees with me on this. One reader (whose permission I'm still awaiting to publish her full letter and name) wrote to me, "The living presence of Christ IN one is what changes a man and this only. If people need models to maturity in Christ, then Christ is not sufficient. Are you implying they are observing Christ IN those who are mature? Then can even an enemy copy behaviors and have no Light in him. As it is written, 'Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light'." Maybe this is true on some very theoretical level, but I believe it constitutes unhelpful spiritualizing of the matter. If we all automatically glowed attractively and winsomely and consistently as soon as we accepted Christ, why would there be the spiritual gifts of pastoring and teaching and exhortation? Why would Paul have written in Ephesians 4, "He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ" ...?

In my experience, we ALL "need to be reminded of the implications of this" more or less constantly. In fact, the whole reason for the existence of the Friends church is to be that gentle and constant reminder of the implications of the central role of Christ.

 
Dorlan Bales
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism December 31 2003, 12:02 AM 

It may be that we are on the cusp of a promising time for Quaker evangelism. The alliance of corporate power, fundamentalist religion, and the Project for A New American Century may have overreached with its invasion of Iraq and the huge budget deficit created by military spending and tax cuts for the wealthy. The American mainstream may soon grow tired of orange terror alerts and come to see the downside of American military-corporate empire. There may soon be a renewed receptivity to a message of inclusion, Spirit, and search for common good at both the international and local church levels.

Evangelism, it seems to me, is simply calling people into spiritually-based community. In the case of Quakers today, that community should be based on Jesus as Christ ( i.e. crucial embodiment [but not sole messenger], the person we identify with the inwardly experienced Spirit of Truth/Love) and upon 350 years of Quaker experience of Christ Present.

Quaker evangelism has always taken many forms, since situations vary so greatly. Robert Barclay was evangelized at 17 by his father's Quaker cellmate, John Swinton, in Edinburgh castle. Swinton's words were confirmed inwardly when he worshipped with Quakers. He was convinced by the "secret power among them" that raised up the good and weakened the evil in him. So we can ask ourselves, "What was the early Quaker evangelistic method?" Was it Fox going into steeplehouses and denouncing formal, civil religion? Was it theological debates in public places? Was it the emotional power, the physical quaking, that happened in their meetings for worship? Was it their willingness to suffer at the hands of the government for their faith? Was it their inclusion of humble people and women in leadership? All of the above and more?

I wonder if the way you have posed question #3, (when to talk about Jesus and when to talk about ethics/discipleship) is helpful to the end we seek. I'm assuming that we want more clarity about how to preach the gospel in the 21st century. We lack clarity about our message as well as our methods. What is the good news we proclaim in a variety of ways depending on the cultural setting? Is it good news for the poor and the insecure middle class in a time of growing empire and oppression? Is it a call to soul-satisfying relationships and peace based on justice in a time of growing reliance on guns, bombs, and prisons? Is it a call to integrity and equality in a time of corporate greed and marginalization of have-nots? Is it going into the highways and byways and calling people to the blessed simplicity of God's banquet table?

At our best Quakers are just and ethical people. But there's got to be more. To get beyond legalism, shoulds, and oughts, there must be a shared experience of the inward power of the Holy Spirit within that enables us to do the will of God in our close personal relationships and our dealings with the world. Programmed religion can at best be a prelude to the experience of prayerful seeking together that gathers Quakers into the presence of the Holy. At worst, it's a more or less entertaining manipulation of people's thinking and emotions, a passively received presentation that legitimizes an unjust status quo and distracts people from the Word.

I continue to believe that Quakers today have a precious heritage that restores much of what was lost under the Constantinian church. I do not believe that the way forward is big churches or a continuing accomodation to popular religion that glorifies health, wealth, and a false patriotism. The Christ of the early church and early Quakerism is the Christ of discipleship! There can be no "central role of/for Christ" if the call to conversion from the world's ways is not sounded. If as Quakers we try to ease people into "Quakerism" with a message of cheap grace and cultural triumphalism that's easy on the ears, how can that message be undone later?
 
   
Johan
(no login)
Response to Dorlan Bales April 5 2004, 9:12 AM 

I may be crazy*, but in the real world where we can't emphasize everything simultaneously and where different temperaments and viewpoints see different priorities, I sense some inner tension in these two statements of yours: "To get beyond legalism, shoulds, and oughts, there must be a shared experience of the inward power of the Holy Spirit within that enables us to do the will of God in our close personal relationships and our dealings with the world." (I agree with that!) And ... "The Christ of the early church and early Quakerism is the Christ of discipleship!" I agree with that, too. I still think it is worth making the distinction between the fervent invitation to know and yield to the Holy Spirit, and the building of a witness of discipleship, because different people are differently able to serve one or the other goal. Yes, theoretically, the distinction is actually unfortunate. Historically, it has also had unfortunate consequences - playing into destructive partisanship between alleged 'liberals' and 'conservatives' who are equally loyal to the core Gospel. But that's why I want to promote a mutually respectful division of labor that takes into account the differing gifts involved while still working toward a unified goal - a Spirit-filled movement whose public witness has powerful prophetic and ethical dimensions.


* Actually, I think I am!
 
 
Alfred Waudo
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism December 31 2003, 7:59 AM 

1 Evangelism to a nonbeliever is the introduction of the Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ.

2 Evangelism to someone who is already a christian but not a theologian is the teaching of the practice of christianity as taught by Jesus Christ,
his desciples,and early apostles.

3 In presenting Friends faith and practice,it is more important to emphasise the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and descipleship at a later point.

4 In the history of my Friends Meeting the earliest Friends considered this question and they introduced christianity by first church planting and then followed with a social concern like establishing a school or dispensary.

I hope these answers will be of some use to you.

Alfred Waudo, African Consulting Engineers
 
  
Jerry Clarkson
(no login)
Re: Re: Four questions about evangelism January 7 2004, 11:13 PM 

Dodge City Family of Friends is a recently developing congregation in southwest Kansas with less than four years of history. Consequently the majority of the congregation are recent Friends of Christ with only very few being long time Christians and a few being not yet Christian. We have been ministering with this congregation for the past 1½ years since our return to the USA from Bolivia.

During the summer months we have focused on developing the purpose and future plan of the congregation. For the past two weeks we have begun to develop various aspects of that purpose, the first being evangelism. Therefore your questions intrigue me as we have been addressing the same issues. Here are some of our conclusions, some congregational and some personal.

1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

As a world society in general we tend to have many preconceived concepts or misconceptions about evangelism. Evangelism is not a crusade or a special event, not door to door or distributing tracts on the street corner. Those may be limited forms of evangelism but may contribute to our misconceptions about evangelism. One member of our congregation stated that she did not care for “evangelism” because she associated the term with an evangelist that was only out to raise money for his church projects or personal pockets. “In-your-face” evangelism is not necessarily effective.

Evangelism is simply sharing good news. In this sense we can be evangelical about our paycheck, a new baby, a new car, or a new house. We have found a new life of peace with God, joy through all circumstances, and hope for future life. This new life we want to share exuberantly because it has eternal meaning for us (not because we feel obligated to fulfill a requirement of our religion).

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

At DCFF we have been looking at the stories of our own lives and the needs and concerns that we had in our life that are now replaced by peace and joy. We have noted that we had similar needs and concerns and that our friends, neighbors, and co-workers also have these concerns. We are beginning to share our story and experience with other in the hope that they will also experience peace and joy in a personal friendship with Jesus.

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

Jesus did not commission us to evangelize but to disciple. Evangelism is only the first step of discipleship. In this first step Jesus did not even expect his disciples to follow him because of their excellent morality and social concern. He called them from where they were at to follow him into discipleship. Ethical and social concerns are integral parts of discipleship that grow out of one’s friendship with Christ rather than develop ones relationship to Christ.

I hope that these comments are helpful to you. We have neither history nor comment related to question #4. Blessings to you as you investigate these issues and carry on in God’s ministry

Jerry Clarkson, Pastor
Dodge City Family of Friends
Dodge City, Kansas


Johan 
(no login)
Response to Alfred Waudo April 7 2004, 10:37 AM 

(I asked Alfred to elaborate a little on his experience with Friends' work in the Samburu district, one of the newest sites of Friends' work. His reply is under the "Speaking from experience" message title.)
 

John Munson
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism January 15 2004, 11:41 AM 

1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever? I guess I'd have to ask you that question! The word has a lot of meanings, and within NWYM, and within RFC, it has a lot of meanings, as well. Outward enthusiasm about the Gospel. Fundamentalism. Salvation through Christ.

For me it has to do with the spreading of the word and the work of Christ in an open and unabashed way. It also means salvation through a personal relationship with God through Christ, but I emphasize relationship, not simply belief. I don't think that my belief has much to do with it, because God is still God, and still there, regardless of my belief.

To me it does not mean trying to conver poor and marginalized people in the Third World. It does not mean simply "Jesus Christ is the only answer" - because that response to every question eliminates the possibility of choices, even the difference between good and evil (yet we see every day in the press the notion our violence, our cruelty, our greed, is good, or at least acceptable, because we are a "Christian nation", whereas if anyone else does these things, particularly if they do them to us, those very same things are Evil.). It also eliminates the need to act, since mere belief "solves" the issues of our relationship with God and our relationship with our neighbor.

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian? This raises questions rather than answers. What is the difference between evangelical Christianity and Christianity? What is the difference in how an evangelical Christian treats other people, as opposed to a non-evangelical Christian? Does an evangelical Christian love God more than a non-evangelical Christian? Or is evangelism a subset of Christianity which is "true Christianity" thereby precluding the possibility that non-evangelicals are Christians at all? Is the difference simply cultural? 

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on? I think that is why we have "Faith AND Practice". In my mind, Christ is meaningless without ethics and descipleship; and the reverse is true, as well. On an academic, or stereotypical level, this more or less defines the differences along the Quaker spectrum, with some Friends emphasizing Works to the exclusion of Belief in Christ, and others emphasizing Belief Christ to the exclusion of Works. In my experience, when you get down to one-on-one, there is not much difference between evangelical Friends and "liberal" Friends where Faith and Practice are intertwined.

4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer? Not being a historian, I will have to demur on this one.
 
 
Lyle Wheeler
(no login)
Re: Re: Four questions about evangelism January 15 2004, 12:13 PM 

1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

The sharing of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ with others on a one to one basis, in small groups and in larger groups (congregations)

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

The teaching of the complete work of God from the creation to the end of time including the coming of himself in the person of Jesus Christ to bring 
forgiveness and show us the way to peace of mind and fulfillment.

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and 
discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

I believe it is more important to teach the central role of Christ first so the ethical and social concerns have a meaningful, strong base from which 
to carry out those concerns. Even though the ethical and social concerns are placed in a secondary position there needs to be a balance in order to have the witness of love and commitment to correct those inequalities that surround us in our world. Without the love, empathy, selflessness, humbleness and 
dedication to assist in correcting the suffering and injustice around the world our message of Christ (evangelism) becomes hypocritical. 

4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

Since most of my life was spent in connection with Mid-America Yearly Meeting I will have to answer from that view point. I feel their first priority 
was to teach the central role of Christ but often it stopped there and social and ethical concerns were relegated to a secondary priority. Unfortunately, 
except for a few, social and ethical concerns were strongly connected with those who did not believe the Bible as the inspired Word of God or the virgin birth and did not believe in the life and atonement of Jesus Christ. There must be a balance and not be exclusive, one of the other.
 
 
Vanessa Di Domenico 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism January 21 2004, 1:55 AM 

Dear friend,

I find your question very interesting.

I always explain that evangelism is taking the good news to others: sort of like telling them what you know about Jesus and the good news He has left us with. I explain this way to anybody who asks, and since there are no other Quakers here, I sometimes do explain to other christians that some Quakers in the past and even today are not evangelicals, but we are.

Now, when I present faith and practice, first I have to explain the whole history of Quakers, since here nobody knows who we are. So I start from Fox and then Penn's work, and always mention the freedom of expression and adoration which he set up in pennsylvania, then tell of his treaties with the Natives (I work with natives here), and the rest of the story. I enjoy telling this, and people surely enjoy listening: I once received an invitation to go preach to the top FARC leader who happened to be here (in secret) seeing a doctor after someone close to him heard the whole story. But he had to leave in a hurry, because it was discovered he was here. I've been praying for him since, and recently he released a bunch of kidnapped tourists and has asked for peace in Colombia. They thought all christians were like the puritans who were killing Quakers before Penn founded the state.

Now, if I meet with someone who is not a christian, then I first discuss christ and being saved, then when many say they don't trust the local churches, mostly pentecostals with ignoramuses for pastors, we explain the whole Quaker story, and beliefs, and faith and practice.

Love,
Vanessa Di Domenico
Maracaibo, venezuela
members of Klamath Falls Monthly Meeting, Oregon
 

Karen Street 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism January 23 2004, 12:18 PM 

Perhaps you can consider translating some of your wording to Universalist?In 1985, PacYM's new Faith and Practice was Christocentric, and the resulting fuss encouraged some of us to canvass people, "what do you mean when you say...?" From this I learned that those using Christian language and those using universalist language agreed on much of their understanding of Friends ways, but understood poorly what people meant who used different words for the same concept. Because of the difference in language, I may be answering a question different from the one you asked!

The only question I'll attempt is #3.

If by Christ you mean continuing revelation, well, in my understanding, that leads to the (particular) ethical and social concerns. I would include it in a first description of Friends, but would describe it differently: a willingness to labor together for common understanding of Truth. An openness to listening to God's will, present in the majority understanding, perhaps, or perhaps in the dissenting voice. An acceptance of the complexity of Truth, at times, its simplicity at others. 

Except for those of us who never tell anyone we are Friends, there is an evangelical component when we mention how Friends discussions shape our thinking and values. People understand Friends, for better or worse, through how well we represent views as fixed or open to discernment, and to continuing revelation, to a willingness to ask questions about issues and wrestle individually and corporately with the answers. When I see Friends at this labor, listening to others, speaking their understanding when it is needed by the group, this seems to me a willingness to follow God's will at its best.

I feel uncomfortable when people extol too much Friends positions on xyz. Some positions, from slavery to today's laboring on same-sex marriage (in many/most Meetings), have undergone a discernment process. Other positions may have gone through a discernment process around the time of WW2, but not since, and may not be vital to Friends today. Many issues have undergone little in the way of a discernment process. At times, Friends discussion can be simply a poll of current prejudices. On other issues, the presence of deep discernment, its quality, is clearer.

Friends talk about experiential understanding. In science, that would mean doing the experiment one's self, or reading about it with understanding. For people not in science, it means an acceptance of the valid experiments of scientists. I'd like to see this experiential understanding become more important -- but not everyone gets equal credit for the quality of their experiment! Friends would benefit from discussing more the role of science.

Policy positions can develop from this discernment process, but I am uncomfortable with policy discussions in the absence of considering our own behavior and feelings. It's HARDER this way, but the quality of our recommendations on policy are much improved when they are not simply an isolated consideration of what THEY can do. And they are more spirtually honest.
-- 
Best wishes,
Karen Street
 

Herbert Standing 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism January 26 2004, 4:08 AM 

It seems that I should attempt to respond to the invitation of Johan Maurer to discuss the topic of "Evangelism and Quaker Testimonies".

For many years I have been a member of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). However, in my childhood and youth I was closely associated with Iowa Yearly Meeting (FUM). For more than twenty years I lived and worked in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting area and participated in that Yearly Meeting as an associate member.

I will endeavor to speak to the four questions posed by Johan Maurer:

l. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

Johan Maurer implies that evangelism applies primarily to the spreading of a Christian message. However, evangelism in its widest definition would seem to describe the proclamation of ones faith, whatever it might be, the proclamation of the Truth as it has been revealed to one's understanding. In making this proclamation to nonbelievers, one must appeal to the nonbeliever's present understanding growing out of the nonbeliever's background and own experience.

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian and not a theologian?

Friends have generally been skeptical of theologians since the very earliest Quaker evangelists suffered at the hands of theological students at Oxford and Cambridge. Friends have emphasized the capability of even the most simple and uneducated among us to know and recognize the leadings of God in some measure. We can explain that these divine leadings can be revealed and expressed in the social interactions among people as well as in sacred scriptures, that the giving of a cup of cold water to one who is thirsty can express the nature and the will of God.

( I write as one who has studied the Christian theology and Quaker faith and practice in academic settings, and I have one or two advanced degrees, but no Ph.D.)

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a latter point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith?

I endeavor to be a Christian and to follow the basic concepts of the Christian and Quaker culture which has been my heritage. I seek to know a personal God with human attributes and I can see revelation of the nature of God in the life of Jesus. However, it is difficult for me to comprehend Jesus as my "personal savior" as some evangelical Christians would demand. I am not satisfied with being just a rational universalist. However, I endeavor to recognize the universal Christ in other religious faiths, while crying out against religious oppression and cruelty wherever it may exist.

In our modern world, it is difficult to accept the Judeo-Christian scriptures without question. I endeavor to follow the findings of the "Jesus Seminar" and other attempts to rediscover the historical Jesus and his message. The early Quaker message emphasized the primary importance of the direct experience of the living Word, and many have been drawn to Friends because of this testimony, and not because of any demand to accept the inerrancy of the Judeo-Christian Bible.

In my own time, a number of seekers from other Christian denominations and other faiths have been drawn to the social movements in which Friends have given leadership, such as the peace movement and the civil rights movement, and some of these seekers have gone on to find meaning and fulfillment in our Friends religious fellowship.

4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) grew out of a revival movement among Friends which was sweeping the country and which culminated in a small group of "Conservative" Friends withdrawing from the larger body following a particularly tempestuous revival meeting in Bear Creek Quarter in Iowa in 1877. About 1917/18, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) incorporated Hickory Grove Quarter in eastern Iowa, a portion of Ohio Yearly Meeting (Wilburite) that had separated from Gurneyite Friends in Ohio ca. 1854/55. ----- The early group of Conservative Friends, in Iowa and throughout the United States, considered themselves to be Orthodox in theology. However, they realized that the theology and practice of the leaders of the revival movement differed decidedly from traditional Quaker theolgy and practice. Early Quaker thought had emphasized "that of God in every person", the basic worth of every person and ability of every person to respond to Divine leadings. The theology of the revival movement was the theology of the American camp meetings all over the frontier which emphasized the utter depravity and sinfulness of men and women and their only hope of salvation being the acceptance by faith of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.------ The leaders of the revival movement showed little appreciation of the traditional Quaker culture and sought to undermine the authority of Elders and Recorded Ministers and to make the position and doctrine of the revivalist preachers supreme.

In the years following the Separation of 1877, some of the Conservative Friends were primarily concerned to maintain a rather closed society, a faithful remnant separated from the world, dedicated to the maintenance, as best they could, of the culture of a peculiar people. 

However, among some of the younger generation there was a desire to maintain contact with the concerns of the larger society and various strands of more liberal Christian thought. My grandfather, who was a child at the time of the Separation, was introduced by an English uncle to Darwin's concept of evolution, and there was interest in the thought of Leo Tolstoi and in concepts of the Socialist Party led by Eugene V. Debs.

With the coming of World War I and military conscription, a number of the young men of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) took the conscientious objector position and suffered in the military camps until the establishment of the American Friends Service Committee enabled some of them to be furloughed to do reconstruction work in France. Here they came in contact with other young Quakers of like mind from throughout the United States and the British Isles, and a new vision was opened to them of what the Society of Friends might be.

In my own time, I spent twenty-two months in Civilian Public Service camps at the end of World War II, and then, in 1949, found myself in federal prison along with a number of Iowa Friends and friends of Friends, because of declining to register as required by the Selective Service Act of 1948. Many of those who have been active in the support of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) during the past 50 years have been those who sought to uphold the Friends peace testimony during World War II and the Viet Nam War. They have found in the Yearly Meeting a place of refuge and support, although some of us are still considered to be felons, not entitled to vote or to fully participate in the political arena.

So, at the present time, we still struggle to proclaim a message of peace and social justice, to be evangelists of a message sounding through the years from Jesus and the prophets, hoping that we can speak to the condition of seekers of our own day and walk in the light of the Truth of the living Christ.

----- Herbert Standing

  
Paul Davis 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism January 29 2004, 2:30 AM 

I welcome your invitation to consider “evangelism and the Quaker testimonies.” I agree with you that the testimonies are (and should be) an outgrowth of a conviction of sincere evangelical experience. I use "evangelical" in the broader sense of the term, to apply to any proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In that sense "evangelism" applies just as much to feeding the hungry and clothing the naked as it does encouraging a spiritual transformation within another's heart. It is all a part of the same message and any attempt to separate love for our fellows from providing them the assistance that they genuinely need is a denial of the message of Jesus Christ. I care not whether that is a "liberal" or a "conservative" perspective, so long as it is truth. [As a political aside, I believe that what are generally termed "conservative" values are generally the most life giving, affirming, and are in the long term the most personally and socially beneficial. Other reasonable persons might disagree.]

I do have a problem with insistence upon the authority of scripture by persons who do not actually adhere to its message. I am thinking in particular of Jesus command to his disciples:

Mat 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
Mat 10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Mat 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

And also the example that he set with his ministry here on earth as typified in the following statement:

Mat 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

I believe that here and elsewhere in scripture is found a general principle that mandates that ministry must start with oneself, proceed to family members and close friends, then to companions and fellows of the same religious body, and only then to reach out to the world at large. It seems
to me that any religious body that presumes to minister beyond its borders should first set their own house in order. It is not prudent, good management technique, and places one at risk of the charge of hypocrisy, to sent missionaries to the farthest reaches of the earth and yet fail to minister to its own adherents first at home. Most disgraceful are "ministers" who travel abroad at great expense to their own family obligations.

I recognize your tremendous energies that have been devoted to the latter endeavor and commend you highly. I have heard directly from several persons who consider themselves to be allied exclusively with Friends General Conference who have expressed pleasant surprise that they found you to be open and receptive to listening to tier (non exclusively Christian) concerns. 

In my perspective, to make the distinction between "evangelism" (presumably to strangers in other cities and places) and "holding dialogues across the full diversity of Friends" is a false dichotomy. 

To put it bluntly, I do not believe that Evangelical pastors should be representing the Religious Society of Friends to the world at large until 

1. they have a rudimentary understanding of the religious and social heritage of which they are a part.
2. recognize how their "evangelical" perspective is an integral part of that heritage and identity.
3. know when and what part of their message is a departure from their own religious tradition.
4. have learned to communicate the gospel message within the context of their religious identity by forming a shared vocabulary regarding ideas and values with other Quakers.

Thinking back on my own experiences with unreformed Baptists, soldiers, sexual deviants, grafters, suicides, financial deadbeats, and other worthless who have found a home in Quaker pulpits... (Personally, if someone owes me money for something that I sold and delivered, just paying the bill will do wonders for the "salvation" of my soul)

Attending some Friends Churches is a bit like seeing a parking lot full of Fords at a General Motors production plant. There is nothing illegal about it, but it is rather unbecoming, and it makes wonder how someone can promote a product when its own workers aren't totally sold.

Paul Davis

 
Johan 
(no login)
Re: Re: Four questions about evangelism March 1 2004, 12:20 AM 

There's a lot of truth in what you're saying. However, I would differ with a couple of points - not major differences, really. For example, I would not want to have to be perfect or my community to be perfect before we begin being prophetic either inside or outside our boundaries. I would not want to wait to have perfect peace in my heart before beginning to advocate for peace outside the boundaries of the peace community. (HOWEVER, I would NOT pretend that I have found the secret of true peace if I have not! To THAT extent I would agree with you 100%.) Quaker evangelism, in my opinion, involves making ACCESS to the Quaker message as universal as possible, so it simultaneously requires building a healthy Christian community AND communicating about that community to those not in it.

Secondly, I wondered a bit about your blunt assertion that evangelical Friends pastors should not represent the Religious Society of Friends to the world at large until they meet your four conditions. Taken just as you've said it, you may have set up a very fruitful potential debate, but ... who decides when the conditions have been fulfilled? I know a lot of liberal Friends who would not meet those criteria very well. And No. 4 seems impossible to fulfill - you're essentially asking evangelical pastors to let themselves be held hostage by those who are most hostile to them in the Quaker world. And I do mean "hostile" judging by some of the anti-pastoral feelings I felt in Southeastern Yearly Meeting. And why single out pastors, when there are lots of evangelical Friends who are not pastors and who are equally gifted as evangelists?

I do know that there are Friends pastors who have come in from other sectors of the religion industry and have set up shop in a Friends meeting without knowing much about their new home. And there are Friends pastors who operate with a chip on their shoulder about this or that aspect of Friends faith and practice that they, for some reason or other, think is "liberal." However, they are a minority among the pastors I've known and observed. Friends also risk getting distorted on the liberal end by becoming codependent to wounded people from outside Friends who have become allergic to anything within Friends that reminds them of the oppressive aspects of their earlier spiritual homes.
 
   
Maxine Nash 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism February 3 2004, 4:54 PM 

> 1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?
A nonbeliever of what? It makes a difference. For example, here in Iraq I find very few people who are "non-believers" in any faith tradition. Not many are actually Christian believers, but when the question is asked here, "Are you a believer?" it usually means do you believe in Allah and the teachings of Islam.

So, in my context I have to think in terms of how I would explain evangelism to a Muslim. As far as I know, there's not much of an evangelistic tradition in Islam. However, once an individual becomes aware of the "truth" they are then bound to consciously accept or reject it, and rejecting it is in essence damnation. Therefore I might explain evangelism as the telling what I consider to be the truth to those who are uneducated, and the truth for me means the reality of God's love through the sacrifice of his son Jesus.
>
> 2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a 
> Christian but not a theologian?
I'm going to skip this one, Johan, since I'm obviously in a space that isn't conducive to this question.

>
> 3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to
> emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics
> and
> discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social
> concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If
> the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

For me, it's important to emphasize the central role of Christ because there are differing opinions and manifestations of this concept within current Friends meetings. My faith as a Friend has its core definition as a Christian, and the ethical and social concerns are merely my way of showing the fruit of my knowledge of Jesus.
>
> 4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the
> earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?
>
Sorry, Johan, I don't really know the answer to this one for either West Richmond Friends, or Hesper Friends Meeting in Iowa.
 

Oliver Kisaka 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism February 24 2004, 4:58 AM 

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

It is more important to emphasize Christ's central role and then introduce the issues of Christian growth, character and ethics. This is so because, there was a reason God sent His son Jesus Christ. It was that man was not able to live righteously on his own. Biblical history is a record of beginnings and deteriorations for all who did not worship the true God. It begun with Adam and by chapter 7 of Genesis, God destroyed mankind through the flood. He begun again with Noah, but deterioration followed. God then calld Abraham and Israel his descendants. Their history is one of deterioration under the Kings, post exilic deterioration under the governors and prophets despite the efforts of key servants of God (Zerubabbel, Joshua, Zechariah, Haggai, Nehemia and Ezra Malachi etc).

It is only through Jesus, that humans begun to get spiritual satisfaction and empowerment to live righteous lives. George Fox was not a man sold out to service and standing for the truth until he met Christ. By the time he met Christ, he was almost giving up on life. He had talked to many people as he sought the truth and did not find it. None told him that Jesus was the answer! God intervened when George had the voice telling him that there was one who could speak to his condition. From then on he had spiritual rest and became empowered to be gin preaching, serving and standing for the truth.

Over the years Christians have failed to convince a lost world because they do not live out the power and love they profess to have. This makes it difficult for their witness to make any impact, for their character denies their faith. A Christian should seek to reveal to all people the secret of walking in the enabling love and power of God and that is Christ. Everyone must have a chance to repent and commit his life to Christ knowingly. They should then seek God daily to be filled by His Holy Spirit. They must on a daily basis read the Holy Scriptures and practice what they learn. In this way a Christian will be a role model, a source of hope and an encouragement.
 
 
Johan Maurer 
(no login)
Re: Re: Four questions about evangelism February 26 2004, 11:03 AM 

Thank you sooooo much for your contribution to the dialogue. I think I will now start commenting on what people are sending. So far I have simply posted without comment, but it is time to model the exchange that should be happening.

Some people could say that there is a contradiction in your words. You say first that "It is more important to emphasize Christ's central role and then introduce the issues of Christian growth, character and ethics." Good. But then you say, "Over the years Christians have failed to convince a lost world because they do not live out the power and love they profess to have. This makes it difficult for their witness to make any impact, for their character denies their faith. A Christian should seek to reveal to all people the secret of walking in the enabling love and power of God and that is Christ." So which REALLY is first, emphasizing Christ's role OR revealing the secret of walking in that love and power?

I don't see these as necessarily contradictory, but IN FACT Christians argue for one or the other and thereby avoid doing EITHER!!! I suspect that the emphasis probably depends more on personal gifts (e.g., having the gift of evangelism OR the gift of administration or helps or mercy) but a passion for communicating Christ will probably overcome the apparent contradiction.

If you saw the Web forum, you probably saw the post by Larry Kinser, the head of church planting for Evangelical Friends Church Southwest, and my response, under the "Identity and Evangelism" topic. In any case, thank you for being very honest about what has robbed Christians of our effectiveness in communication.

May your ministry be very fruitful!
 
 
Jens Braun 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism February 28 2004, 10:12 AM 

> 1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?
>
> 2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already 
> a Christian but not a theologian?

I don't mean to be difficult or uncooperative, but I have a hard time with the way these two questions are phrased. Perhaps it is because I don't fit into the 'theologian' category, much preferring the mystical and experiential side of relationship with God. Knowing too many "Christians" who are far from what I understand Christ's teachings to be, and others who would never call themselves Christian yet appear to me to be very close to God, I have found words like "Christian" and non-believer poor descriptors of a person's spiritual state. Even there, trying to describe someone's spiritual state, is not always relevant because most of us are on paths/journeys. I know people who's paths have led them into very "un-Christian" realms, only to discover in those places great truths and a spiritual vitality they would never have achieved on a more conventional, church-acceptable route. We are told not to judge and I find this to be particularly good advice when considering a person's relationship with the Spirit. I shy away from terms that box us into a saved or unsaved category. So here is my description of evangelism, that I would give to you, and to my moslem friends, to someone who calls herself atheist, and to anyone on the street:

Evangelism is clearly a word that carries much baggage, and it stirs up a strong range of feelings. I have met too many people who have been wounded by evangelism being used as a sword. Yet I have met many people who have gotten definition for their longings, have found answers, and who have reflected, in a very deep manner, on their lives because of evangelism. For me, evangelism is three things. Sharing, living, and listening. It is sharing my experience of God and those things that have been meaningful as a result of this experience. It is living the consequences and imperatives that profound experiences of God make unavoidable. It is listening to, and validating the experiences of God that others have already had.

I have seen how much of the Christian world talks of evangelism as doing this sharing in order to get others to believe in Jesus Christ and accept him as Savior. Though I was educated in a Christian Missionary school and heard this from a very young age, I have never understood what these words mean. What does "believe in Jesus" mean? This and may other pieces of jargon, some of which appear to be mandatory parts of speech in some churches, tend to be theological and very human expressions of the Great Unknowable. Again, I am not theologically inclined, and I have a hard time inviting anything or anybody "into my heart". But I have no trouble at all saying that learning about Jesus has changed, and continues to change, the way I see other people and the world. If asked, I can give examples. I can't talk about atonement, because that aspect of Christianity has never had any meaning for me. It would be dishonest for me to talk about any sense I have of my sins being washed away. I don't feel "saved", and I don't understand what others say I have been (or would be) saved from. I do often feel a closeness to a powerful and living God. I once heard that sin--in the original biblical sense--meant to miss the mark, as in an arrow missing a target. If sin is missing God I do know what it means because I am increasingly aware of when I am nearer to God and when I have drifted away. I am increasingly aware of this because, at those times when I enter close to God's "space", the experience is one of wide open skies, monumental forests, deepest friendship, endless and timeless. It is where I do not feel alone but rather part of the One. This is what I want to share. This is what I want to hear about in other's lives, regardless of the religious label they affix to themselves.

Jesus spoke a lot about the Kingdom of Heaven (even he used jargon which I surmise would be different were he preaching today in our democratically oriented cultures). And as part of evangelism I want to talk about this too. Because I have found that God's space, despite its vastness, is not "out there" but rather all around all of us here. And it is good. It is wise. It is uplifting. It is loving. We are different here because of it. The usual ways of doing things are changed such that that spark of God becomes visible everywhere, including in things I used to think were horrible. I want to, have to respond to that spark because there is a fire behind it (now I'm getting into the jargon !  ) To me evangelism is all about wanting to share our experience of God and an openness to similar experiences in others.

> 3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to
> emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of 
> ethics and
> discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and 
> social
> concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian 
> faith? If
> the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

I find this to be a left brain/right brain, male/female, ying/yang type issue. Either emphasis is merely a shadow of itself without the other. Individuals might have an inclination to approach one or the other first, or may have strengths in one more so than in the other, but to give one priority is like giving the head more importance than the heart.

> 4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the
> earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

I don't have an educated answer to this, though my sense is that early Friends in my meeting would say: "If your beliefs don't have a substantive, visible, and attractive effect on your life (because of your integrity, kindness and humility), they are not worth talking about to anybody.

Blessings to you in your work Johan, I'll be checking your website periodically for updates.

Jens
 
 
Mike Huber 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism February 29 2004, 10:41 AM 

> 1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

Since "evangelism" is not a word that people outside the church use in daily conversation with their friends, I think we should begin with a definition of the word itself. "Evangelism" is announcing the "good news" we have received from Christ.

At this point, many of those who don't call themselves Christian get skeptical. "What good news?" they ask. Too often, the Christian message begins: "You are a sinner..." And this hardly strikes people as good news!

So, what is the good news? While not an exhaustive list, I think we can safely say that God loves us with unshakeable, steadfast love; that we can know God as a friend (or mother or king, et al); that this relationship brings us joy, peace and transformation; and that this relationship empowers us to live fruitful lives.

Therefore, evangelism is the process whereby the followers of Jesus bring all this good news to everyone. And this brings us to the next question we must address: By what process do Christians "do" evangelism?

Most people outside the church (and -- sadly -- many inside, too) assume that "bringing the good news" is mostly a matter of information. That is, we tend to equate evangelism with imparting knowledge or a system of thought. However, rather than "lecture" people about the good news, it is certainly better to bring them a *demonstration.*

When we feed the hungry, when we sacrifice our comfort and convenience for the sake of justice, when we speak for the voiceless -- when we do anything that runs against the grain of our culture, we demonstrate the alternate reality of God's kingdom. It is this demonstration that can truly be called "evangelism," for it is in bearing the fruit of the Spirit that we "become" good news to the world around us.

When it comes to evangelism, if our lives don't speak, then nothing else we say will probably matter. In my experience, those outside the church find this admission honest and refreshing. It usually moves the conversation to a place where people are challenged to experience Christ for themselves, rather than comfortably dismiss the hypocricy and failure of many who claim the name of Jesus.

> 2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a
> Christian but not a theologian?

As above, but with more engagement of Scripture. For example: many Christians know about "the Great Commission" (wherein Jesus commands his followers to "make disciples"). Many hear this command and assume that Jesus is asking them to spread information. However, with some reflection, I believe most Christians will agree that it takes more than "information" to "make disciples."

> 3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize
> the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship
> at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more 
> effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith?

Hopefully, it is already clear that I see issues of discipleship as integral to Christian faith. A Christian is not someone who "thinks a certain way." A Christian is someone who follows Jesus. This must touch the way we live our lives.

I will say that the primary emphasis (in both teaching Friends faith & practice and in the process of discipleship) needs to be on developing the ability to discern the voice of Christ. A constant danger for Friends is that we will institute of formula of obedience (dressing a certain way, doing or refraining from certain activities, etc.) and substitute the formula for active listening and obedience. Certainly our own history illustrates this danger! In that sense, we do need to distinguish between "the central role of Christ" and a list of ethical or discipleship concerns.

> 4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest
> Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

As the founding pastor of my local meeting, I can say with confidence that at least one of our "earliest Friends" thought like me! I'm less certain about my yearly meeting, but my impression is that the founding Friends of my yearly meeting were more inclined to emphasize the "central role of Christ." I think it was a time when great emphasis was placed on moving people toward a "decision" for Christ. There were, however, social issues very near the heart of these people (especially the use/abuse of alcohol).
 
   
Lon W W Fendall 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism February 29 2004, 10:52 AM 

1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

It's sharing the Good News about Christ's love for us and the transformation that results from focusing our lives on following Christ.

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

I think the Good News phrase also helps make things simple and plain for believers as well.

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

I think both should be made kept in close association. Some have a background of general understanding of Christ, some do not. Some have a keen interest in discipleship, some do not.

4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

Our YM came into being during the shift toward pastoral leadership and the forging of closer connections with other evangelicals. I think there was a good balance between faith in Christ and faithfulness to Christ's teaching in the early days, but the liberal/conservative split causes our YM to reduce its emphasis on the social witness of the Gospel.
 
 
Diane Reynolds 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism February 29 2004, 11:08 AM 

> 1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?
I explain it as follows: I have seen a very magnificent display of Northern Lights. It has given me great joy. I want to show it to you because, as a human, i have an overwhelming desire to share my good experiences with others. I come to you in excitement and tell you what I saw and ask you to come with me and see it too! You have choices in response to my "evangelism:" You can say "I'm not interested in these lights," "I've seen lights like that before and wasn't impressed," or "I'm too busy." You can come with me and say "So what? What's the big deal?" and walk away untransformed or you can say "I don't see anything. You must be imagining it. You must be psychologically disturbed" and walk away, or you can give me a patient scientific explanation OR you can share my joy and transformation and want to show all YOUR friends. Evangelism is not about forcing people to see what we see, but about an overwhelming desire to share our central experience. 

> 2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a
> Christian but not a theologian? 
see above. Maybe more explicitly, the desire that other people have the transformation in Jesus, the life change, that we have. 
> 3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to
> emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and
> discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social
> concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If
> the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on? 
To me, it always has to be the central role of Christ, no question.
> 4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the
> earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer? 
I do not know abut my meeting, but given the fervor of early Friends, I imagine Christ was central to their faith and practice.
 
  
Teresa Velasquez 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism February 29 2004, 4:08 PM 

How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

Evangelism is a ministration of God, who is, and was, and is to come. The invisible God is made manifest in, by, and through the things that are seen. He has drawn men to Himself by His Spirit of Truth. He is and He cannot lie. Men have decided not to believe God nor that He is. 

Because men deny God and His authority over creation men live, and, die. But, God made man to be in an eternal relationship with Him, so that, men can rise from the dead and live forever with Him. Yet, in this present life, a man's nature may be changed by God from unbelief to belief by the Spirit of God which is Truth. When a man learns by the Spirit of God how He desires man to live, that man becomes aware of his alienation from God and the Way he should be living. A man's conscience so touched enters into faith, a gift from God, but he must be changed by being cleansed. 

A man who turns away from the inappropriate ways he chose to live learns he is accountable for his former unbelief and his former actions. He practices genuine kindness and love to his fellowman. He privately talks to God asking for forgiveness. Having remorse, man may learn that God is merciful and has provided the Way to be cleansed from the consequences of his former lifestyle. That Way is Christ crucified for the remission of sin and the consequences of sin.

Evangelism is the Spirit of God working in men who have learned to live according to the Truth and who are prepared to give an answer for the hope they have in God, and in His Christ. The Way we may live is by love, the laying down of one's life for a Friend, as did Jesus Christ for all men.


How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

If you are a Christian, you have God's Spirit of Truth growing in you. Do not ignore Him, but seek Him and follow Him. As you walk in the doctrine of Christ by faith, you will be changed or converted into a new man. You will learn wherein your faith and hope lie and you will be readied to tell others of the hope you have, but not according to your own desires.

Evangelism is a ministration of God, who is, and was, and is to come. The invisible God is made manifest in, by, and through the things that are seen. He has drawn men to Himself by His Spirit of Truth. He is and He cannot lie. Men have decided not to believe God nor that He is. 

Because men deny God and His authority over creation men live, and, die. But, God made man to be in an eternal relationship with Him, so that, men can rise from the dead and live forever with Him. Yet, in this present life, a man's nature may be changed by God from unbelief to belief by the Spirit of God which is Truth. When a man learns by the Spirit of God how He desires man to live, that man becomes aware of his alienation from God and the Way he should be living. A man's conscience so touched enters into faith, a gift from God, but he must be changed by being cleansed. 

Man turns away from the inappropriate ways he chose to live knowing he is accountable for his former unbelief and his former actions. He practices genuine kindness and love to his fellowman. He privately talks to God. Having remorse, man may learn that God is merciful and has provided the Way to be cleansed from the consequences of his former lifestyle. 

Evangelism is the Spirit of God working in men who have learned to live according to the Truth who are prepared to give an answer for the hope they have in God, and in His Christ. The Way we may live is by love, the laying down of one's life for a Friend, as did Jesus for all men.

Be careful. If you say you are a Christian, and you do not grow in faith and the knowledge of the Truth, nor walk in it, you will be numbered with the hypocrites. And any attempt you make to share your faith which is as evangelism will be false. And you will beget children like yourself who, claiming to know Christ and Him crucified, are lost. 

Many of these may be theologians. They are like the scribes, pharisees, and saducees of the Jewish religion. And in as much as these crucified the man Jesus, who is the Son of God, false teachers crucify Him afresh today condoning sinful lives of many who claim to be saved by faith. But without the works of love, their faith is dead. There is nothing new. 

Therefore, be as a child and trust the Spirit of God to teach you and learn not the ways of men who are hypocrites. Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from supping with Him. Being a part of a body is of no good consequence if you are not attached to the head which is Christ. If a man does not labor, neither shall he eat. 


In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

All the prophets warned men to turn to the Way of God; few listened. John Baptist told men to show works that they were turning to a different Way of life. Jesus started His ministry by telling men the higher Way to live. Is this not His central role? To obey His father? To deliver the words His Holy Father sent? To send forth these words by others He would send? Are we not saved by the Word of God? Yet, did not Jesus' obedience lead Him to lay His life down for His friends? And this act removed the consequences of sin from man so that he might be reconciled to God by Christ's obedience. And in following Him, men lay down their former diverse ways of living which were a broad path to destruction to live in, and by, the Truth.

This question poses the dilemma. Is Jesus Christ your Savior? Then, is He also your Lord? Who one serves is their lord whether sin unto death or love in Christ unto eternal life. If a man continues to let sin have reign over him, can he be called converted? Will not the Lord of all say unto him, "I never knew you". 

So then, whatever denomination may preach Christ risen from the dead is Savior of the world alone hides the Light of the Way of Truth Jesus came to shed abroad to men. And is not what Jesus preached the gospel? For this Light shines into the hidden parts of men's hearts. It convicts of sin, and if a man will, the Light will lead him unto repentance. Men cannot lead anyone one to repentance. Yet, if the Light in men is put on a candle stick other men might see it. 

Is it not the Word of God, who is the Light of the world, that shines forth from heaven unto men through those who worship God in Spirit and in Truth? And is this not done by being converted to the Way of Truth by God's Holy Spirit? And does not love of the Truth save men? So they have Jesus Christ as their Lord? And He will receive them? What then can a man 'emphasize'? Man cannot live on Bread alone (Jesus is Savior), but on every word out of the mouth of God (Jesus is Lord). Anything less precipitates error.


In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

I have no information on meetings history. Yet, did not George Fox seek Truth with his whole being because he loved it and the churches of men offered a watered down gospel? So he directed men to the Light of the world, to the only Bishop and Shepherd of our souls?

I hope you are at rest in the peace of God,

Teresa
 

John Price 
(no login)
Four answers concerning evangelism March 2 2004, 6:57 PM 

1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

I would have to say first what evangelism is not. For non-believers are well aware of the traditional definitions and modes of evangelism. It is not a boasting that one has found the key to happiness or the meaning of life. It is not an effort to validate one's own professed belief in order to shore up one's rickety faith which has been built on a foundation of sand. It is not an effort to appear pious and loving of the Lord to one's neighbors and fellow believers in order to curry their good will.

I believe evangelism is a compassionate response to the pain of others. For if non-believers are not in pain they believe they have no need of the Lord. Further, if they feel they must hide any pain they suffer for their sins, then they must also hide any interest in curing that pain. Sometimes that hidden pain may be coaxed into the open by providing a safe and friendly atmosphere amongst people who are genuine, forgiving, and supportive. The least perceptive person immediately recognizes inconsistent actions, regardless of the most devout and sincere speeches. It is by our actions, attitudes, and the very essence of our everyday lives that we demonstrate our genuine Christianity. Once that is demonstrated we may have the invitation extended to us to deliver the good news.

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

I just did so in the above response. Also, I believe the Scotts spoke my heart on this question.

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

Because I moderate a 'Faith and Practice' adult educational series primarily for newcomers and those curious about Quakers, this is something with which I have had to wrestle. My conclusion has been that Christ is central to our Faith and Practice, and that all of our practices arise from our faith in, and our intimate communication with Christ. The acceptance of Christ and salvation does not immediately transform us into perfect Christians incapable of sin. This instant of acceptance only signifies the beginning of a long journey, not its completion. As for Quaker 'Faith and Practice', I advise people that we are all at various places along the Christian path; at different levels of maturity in our faith. Things may look somewhat different to us from our different perspectives and different levels of spiritual maturity. Our acts (practices) should flow from our faith, not our doctrine. As Quakers we believe that our faith will, with maturity, deliver us to a common point of understanding, but in the meantime, the values expressed in our Faith and Practice are values to which we aspire. A conversation (possibly apochryphal) between George Fox and William Penn illustrates the point. Penn knew that as a new Quaker he should value non-violence, and so he asked "When should I stop wearing my sword?" Fox, recognizing the need for actions to spring from faith rather than dogma replied, "Wear it for as long as you can." And so the short answer is that Christ comes first.

4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

I don't feel qualifed to speak to this question.

 
Johan 
(no login)
Re: Four answers concerning evangelism March 3 2004, 10:21 AM 

John, greetings and thanks for these comments. Sadly, concerning question #4, I think Lon Fendall's answer a few posts up are a fair summary of the situation in our (Northwest) Yearly Meeting. You may have noticed how hard Rachel H. and her friends have to work to recruit people for the YM's Peace and Social Concerns board. HOWEVER, the situation is a lot healthier in our YM than in many others.
 
   
Violeta Tribandiene 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism March 3 2004, 10:25 AM 

1. How would you explain evangelism to a nonbeliever?

Back in Lithuania after a Monday worship we were visiting with an old acquaintance who was a believer but not a Christian. He had just regained his fraternal land and was planning to build a Lithuanian indigenous religion temple. He was wondering if we could be partners in the project. While listening to him the story of Transfiguration came to my mind. I told him the story paying a special attention to the fact that after the great experience of the divine, Jesus took the disciples down the mountain, where in the valley the people were suffering. The first thing Jesus did was he healed a sick child. The awareness of the divine does make us worshipful, but we are invited to act on in by doing good deeds for those in need. Ah.”- said my non-Christian friend. – “You are much more practical.” “Yes,” – I said, “because our Teacher was both spiritual and practical.” 

I don’t believe we need to explain what evangelism is. We need to tell Jesus story and demonstrate it by a mental or actual example. 

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

As living in the spirit of Christ in thought and deed. As sharing our gifts for the betterment of the world in the spirit of Christ.

3. What comes first: faith in Christ or good works?

If good works of justice, charity and righteousness are not based in the Spirit they become an ego trip that often is very dangerous. Spirit goes first.

4. In the history of your Friends meeting did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

I have no information if early Friends at Ada Chapel (Wilmington Friends Preparatory Meeting) considered this question, but there is a lot of evidence that they tried to implement the Good News through their life style. Here are several examples (as prepared for the 2003 Thanksgiving quiz):

Ada Chapel was started by Lizzie R. Harvey on 11/5/1888. Lizzie, a Wilmington school teacher, sought to serve the spiritual and physical needs of the children in East Wilmington.

Ruth Farquar, who served as chairman of the Ada Chapel Committee about 25 years, interested Ada Jenkins in giving the money for the erection of the building that is still used. 

In 1908 Ruth Farquar and Ada Jenkins asked a young girl, Mary Estelle Briggs, to play the organ for services. Miss Briggs devoted much of her life for the next 75 years at the Chapel.

Miss Briggs also interested Ruth Probasco Skimming in the work and she served at the Chapel in charge of the Chapel Committee for over 40 years.

Larry Barker has been associated with Ada Chapel since 1965, when he came to Wilmington. Since his retirement in 1985 as pastor of Wilmington Meeting, Larry has served both as pastor, Sunday School Teacher and the Committee Chairman.

Harry Leasure, a blind minister, served as pastor of Ada for 17 years.
 

Patricia McBee 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism March 4 2004, 2:29 AM 

1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?
I think I would use this quotation from Fox: 

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people and to them, then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing and make the witness of God in them to bless you.

Or this one from Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel always, and, if necessary, use words."

In other words, by deeply living one's faith it speaks and provides the opportunity for explicitly discussing the source from which one's outward life springs. I have recently been reading about Quakers in Germany between WWI & WWII. There hadn't been a German Yearly Meeting before WWI. Germans came to Quakerism in response to the work of British and American Friends between the war. They wanted to touch the source of that loving and respectful care for the "enemy."

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

That we are called upon to follow in Christ's footsteps/to live in the love of God and to acknowledge to the people we meet that God's loving companionship is our source.

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

I find it essential to start with emphasizing discovering one's experiential relationship with God. That is what I know Quakerism to be about. That is what we are seeking in the meeting for worship and the meeting for business. As we cultivate that relationship, it leads us to our outward testimonies. If someone is drawn to Friends by one of the testimonies, I seek to talk with them about the root that has led Friends to that testimony.

4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

I have no idea.

   
Bob Carter
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism March 19 2004, 12:38 PM 

Sorry to have not gotten back to you sooner. My schedule has been wild. I'm still in Zambia, but since January I've taken time away from clinical duties to focus full-time on improving my ability to communicate in the local vernacular of Kikaonde. I have a long way to go before I will even approach fluency, but at least I can see a little progress. But Mukinge functions too much in English, so for most of this month we have "shifted" to a different location where Kikaonde is more prevalent (and email less accessible, I might add!) My language coach wants me to produce and deliver a devotional message and a health education lesson both in Kikaonde before we return to Mukinge on 21st March. This is a huge undertaking for me to attempt. Upon returning to Mukinge we'll have only two days to refresh and repack before leaving for Kenya, where I will be delivering the graduation message at Friends Theological College in Kaimosi on March 27. I'm not sure at this point when I'll have time to prepare it. I've been praying about it and have some general ideas but don't have anything down on paper yet. This all means that in spite of good intentions I probably won't get to work on answering your survey until sometime in April. I still want to do it, but at present these other tasks are compelling my time and attention.

I'm glad you sent the questions with your email, because web access is functionally impractical for me. Email works, with some effort and long-distance telephone expense.

To soothe my guilt, I'll attempt a quick response to question #3 - at least to get started. I may try to flesh it out more later.

I grew up in Western Yearly Meeting, and I don't recall ever hearing the question of gospel vs. social witness discussed in terms of a historically preferred approach to evangelism. But the yearly meeting has historically taken a Christ-centered approach in most issues and I would assume that it would have been even more so in evangelism. Certainly while growing up it was made clear to me that a spirit-empowered relationship with Jesus Christ was supposed to be the center wellspring from which flowed the outward life of the believer. That is, the reason we bear witness to social and ethical issues is because of the indwelling Christ of compassion and justice who calls us to be salt and light in the world.

That said, it was also made clear that the Spirit witnesses to each person differently, according to his/her place of need. Being a witness for Christ involves maintaining sensitivity to what the Spirit is doing in the lives of others. Not everyone who needs Christ is in a place of receptivity to the theology of the gospel, but all are in one way or another able to receive and respond to evidence of His love. That evidence may take different forms depending on the sense of need the person may have. For some, it may be social issues, for others it may be practical or physical helps, and for even others it may be just a silent, caring presence. For each, bearing witness to Christ effectively requires a searching dependency on and careful obedience to the Holy Spirit.

If one looks at the historical outreach activities of the yearly meeting, one can see evidences of both approaches. So if you want to take this as a kind of "it depends" answer, then I guess I would have to say it depends on what the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives and hearts of those receiving the ministry of Christian witness. Being a creative Quaker at heart, I prefer to take the third option where none was offered: that is, that evangelism that is true to the heart of Christ balances both together at the same time. One is not lifted up as more important than the other any more than one could say that one attribute of God is more important than another. For instance, which is more important, Truth or Justice? The truth is, you can't have one without the other. I think evangelism is similar. Jesus brought together proclamation and demonstration in his message about the Kingom of God being at hand. If the message is to remain true, proclamation and demonstration cannot be separated. And frankly, the demonstration that is often needed (and perhaps most clearly seen) is in social and ethical concerns.
 

Becky Towne 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism March 22 2004, 1:33 PM 

1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?
Evangelism is the story of Jesus the Christ--who he is, what he said about himself and his relationship to God, what that means to me and the community of faith to which I belong, and what it could mean to others who hear the story.

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?
The topic of evangelism in Scripture can be seen as integral to all three persons of the Godhead. Just a few examples are listed below.
John 6:44 - No one can come to me (Jesus) unless drawn by the Father who sent me.
Luke 19:10 - The Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.
John 16:8 - And when he (the Advocate) comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement.
We participate with God in the work of evangelism by listening for his direction through the Holy Spirit and responding accordingly. Once those who were lost enter the Kingdom, we are commanded as believers to be about the work of discipleship.

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?
Christ emphasized his central role through the ethics and social concerns of the day as he spoke directly to the cultures. With a Samaritan woman at a well, he introduced himself as living water and eventually as Messiah to a social outcast. After the feeding of the 5000, he revealed himself as the Bread of Life to those looking for perpetual release from hunger. At a funeral, he revealed himself as the Resurrection and the Life to a group of people in mourning. At the Feast of Tabernacles, Christ introduced himself as the fulfillment of what had become a central cultural celebration and practice.
Christ ushered in the new Kingdom and continues to reveal himself through participants in that Kingdom who are called to witness to the Ever-Present One within culture to transform culture. It doesn't seem that the emphasis of the central role of Christ should be separated from the ethical and social concerns to which the Kingdom directly relates.

4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?
I can't see any evidence that my meeting or yearly meeting has considered these questions historically, at least through any formal means.
 
   
Violet Zarou
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism April 5 2004, 3:53 AM 

Oh my! After a long absence we get in touch. I remember the time you came to Ramallah and I took you to visit the Friends play-center at the Amari Refugee Camp. This humble but notable service that both the FWCC and FUM plus individual Friends and Fr. Meetings are generously supporting since they have started it in 1975 is still going on. Fifty, 5-year-old refugee children come to the Friends Play Center free-of-charge, all requirements to run the Play Center are covered by the Friends (Quakers). The children are taken care of with love, care, understanding, help, and better to say with compassion. The children come to a Quaker Oasis of Peace....

I deeply believe that the most important and effective introduction to FRIENDS’ Christian Faith is surely the ethical and social Concerns.

As to the history of the earliest Friends in Ramallah, ethical & social concerns were put into practice:

1. As very young children, long ago, we used to hear of & often saw Nimeh Shahla, a native Q. lady of Ramallah mounting her donkey with loads of medicine, besides a good sense of humour and ethical stories and heading to the villages around Ramallah. She was liked and respected by both Moslems and Christians. “A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one single deed.”

2. If I forget; I will never forget, dear Ellen Mansour, a born Q. & a native of Ramallah, a mother of 5 Q. daughters. She spent years and years and years in caring and running the Sunday school at the Ramallah Friends Meeting House. Though she passed away about eleven years ago, she is still remembered with love and gratitude – no matter what happens, she would never miss a Sunday.

3. Then to dear Mildred White who came into my life in my childhood days. She was “an angel come to town”, she was known by this name by everybody. Mildred, an American Missionary lady, had served as principal of the Friends G. School in Ramallah for many, many years. She made many trips between her native home and Ramallah, but always came back to us.

It was through her ethical, sincere love, help and concern that I became a Quaker. I am glad that Mildred came into my life, and I am proud I got to know her. – Thanks to God who directed her steps to us, to come to Ramallah.

May I share with you the following passage?

Matthew 5:11

“You are the light of the world. A city that sits on a hill cannot be hid.”

“Lamps do not talk but they do shine. A lighthouse sounds no drums and beats no gongs, and yet for over the water its friendly spark is seen by the mariners. So let your actions and deeds shine out your religion and your Faith. Let the main sermon of your life be illustrated by all your conduct.”

May God lead us all to do what is best. We did not tell the children “We are Christian Quakers,” but we lived it.

With prayers for Peace,

Violet
Violet Zarou

I do pray that this will be of a little use to you, Friend.

V.

[NOTE from Johan: Violet responded by paper mail to the "four questions" survey. In transcribing her letter, I have deleted a couple of lines. Please contact me for the full text.]


Alexander Gorbenko 
(no login)
Untitled April 20 2004, 10:54 AM 

1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

I try to understand what kind of nonbeliever he or she is. And pose as many questions as possible from different angles, and possible benefits and obstacles. This in order to figure out how to make the explanation, to make it comprehensible to that particular person. Three possibilities:

- more or less positive, at least natural (“so-called”)
- negative
- aggressive

I try to clarify with the person the origin of this activity.

2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

I try to find the framework of his evangelism area, and his taboos, his preferable passages, and so on. Because some areas would be unclear even for those who claim a strong evangelistic position. Try to find the proper area which he occupies in his mind and then very carefully clarify the details. (I don’t like Christian fundamentalism, which seems dangerous to me.)

3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

When Jennifer Barraclough presented Friends to the Responding to Conflict course, she presented it as a branch of Christianity … To me, Christ and “Christianity” are two separate things. In the old “Christian countries,” we can see a dramatic diminishing of churchgoers. It seems that it is vain to try to shake the branch if the trunk is rotten. (By the “trunk” I’m referring to mainstream bodies of Christianity.) If general Christianity has really lost its grip, then it isn’t helpful to hang from the branch. I think that I should start with Christ, but I present my position in a threefold manner. Historical Christ as Jewish male working in ancient Palestine; the eternal Christ or Inner Light; and the challenge of the question, “Is Jesus universal?” The real message of Christ is distinguishable from the dogmas of historical Christianity; he was a great comforter and healer; he is able to help everyone with any need, any spiritual predicament or physical bleeding; he can answer every challenge of life. A living faith can answer adequately every challenge of life. The testimonies are applications of the true Christ’s message.

4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

Alexander Yagodovsky – Tatiana Pavlova’s son – wrote an early article in Spiritual Circle concerning the inward connections between early Friends’ positions and the Orthodox Church. (For the Orthodox Church, the Risen Christ is more important than the crucified Jesus.) Two-thirds of Moscow Meeting Friends identify themselves as Christians.

-----------
The full title of the article is “Russian Orthodoxy and the Teachings of the Early Quakers: Some Common Ground.” This first issue of the Spiritual Circle was a remarkable experience. We put it together, from origin to printing, in one week, just before the FWCC Triennial in 1997. It was an international team – Tatiana Pavlova, Mikhail Roshchin, Alexander Gorbenko (all from Moscow MM, Russia), John Taplin (Australia YM), Takayuki Yokota-Murakami (Japan YM), Nadezhda Spassenko (USA and Ukraine).

 
Mary Kay Rehard
(no login)
Four Questions April 23 2004, 2:46 AM 

> 1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

Bringing Jesus Christ's saving love and power to all people, body, mind and soul. That means accepting and loving people as they are, staying with people (like the Pedigos!), allowing the Holy Spirit to enable us to "speak to their condition." (never a revival, a door-to-door drive-by, a rally, a crusade or a TV show!) Letting people know that "Christ has come to teach his people himself," and helping them to see the the Gospel is full of stories of Jesus teaching people just like them about what God is like; and assuring them that if they listen carefully, he can do the same for them, inwardly. Inviting, leading people to a personal encounter with the Risen Christ, so that inwardly they meet him, and know and feel a transformation, experience a call, and grasp a meaning to life. Creating communities where people express the love and hope of Jesus' life and message to one another and to those beyond (ie, explaining wordlessly, which is always the best way). Making these communities (meetings) places people want to be, a web of care and support for one another, as well as a body of people committed to works of service that make the world a place fit to live in, that is - building the kingdom of God, or the new creation" together. Would I really explain it this way to a "non-believer"? As I re-read it, only if they asked me and I thought they were open and not hostile to Xty and Quakerism.
>
> 2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a
> Christian but not a theologian?

Evangelism is teaching (in the best sense--a relationship of mutual learning between student and teacher). And it is also about fostering, midwifing a new life (in Jesus)--that is best done hands-off without lots of unnecessary intervention; being a guardian of the process, gently guiding the process, respecting the powers that created the process. The same as above for "non-believers," doing so under the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And like Jesus, never threatening, never intimidating anyone; only by an inivitation. Beginning by meeting people where they are, accepting them, never judging them. Letting our lives "preach," bringing to Christ by example, seeking to be models for others. And being willing to listen hard to questions they ask and being open to being changed by them. It means we, as disciples, must live a "religion with teeth" (eg, Bonhoeffer). 
>
> 3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to
> emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and
> discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social 
> concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If
> the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

It depends. But both must be there. I think non-Christians (esp those burned by Xty) can relate very much to the testimonies (ethics and activity of discipleship) and can be scared off by talk of Jesus. But we do have to be careful about NEVER mentioning Christ--I don't think that's a good idea, either. For me, I needed unprogrammed Friends as a place to heal from institutional patriarchy and repression of women's gifts--my gifts!--in the Roman Catholic Church, AND from the aftermath of feminist analysis thereof, a rather hopeless and unrelenting tearing apart, a throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I needed a place with no pressure to adhere to any fixed set of beliefs. But as a seeker, eventually that approach didn't satisfy. I needed "religion with teeth." It was individuals (like your wife) particularly women, who shared with me very simply and personally what Jesus Christ meant to them--eventually I grew open to the mystery of a redeemer in the skin and flesh and bones of a man's form. But it's still not always easy.

So the testimonies were a doorway through which I could enter religion anew, to enter Friends (and silence of waiting worship was conducive). Both the testimonies and silence were pure expressions of faith, to my mind. And if people had started right in on Jesus or told me that "the reason why we do these things is Jesus," I would have run screaming to the UUs, most likely.

I think like all teaching, we need to wait until people ASK, just as Jesus did. A good teacher doesn't lecture, they don't even give answers to questions, they HELP PEOPLE FIND THE ANSWERS THEMSELVES. Note I didn't say FIND THEIR OWN ANSWERS. (No, that's FGC). We want people to find a vibrant faith, but if that's a relationship that happens by the grace of God, we can't force it. We want people to know the life-giving truth that Jesus came to bring, but it's rich, textured and complex--we can't package it easily. Jesus didn't go around giving answers to people randomly. He met someone, they asked him a question, and usually he entered a dialogue. When he did give an answer it was usually a weird story and people often asked, "What is he talking about?" And he showed mercy and compassion to people rejected by society. That was his "evangelism" or "pedagogy." What would happen if we did the same? Wow!

So evangelism needs to be about making authentic seekers and kingdom builders. It needs to be helping people to find good questions and searching with them for the answers. And it needs to be about living a life that's a reflection of Christ's compassion and mercy that energizes and excites others to do the same, to build the "kingdom of God," "the new creation." It has to be about living a life of trust and obedience to the Holy Spirit, utterly open to the demands of the Gospel, committed to bringing the justice and peace Jesus spoke of (that's the testimonies, I guess). Talking about the testimonies is somehow boring--seeing them in action can break a person's heart, can lay them open to the working of the Holy Spirit. (That's what happened to me when I first learned about "Quaker saints" and later when I saw the Taize community's commitment to the Gospel, taking them to places Jesus wants to be today, with the poor and outsiders throughout the world). How often are FUM "Friends churches" taking risks for the gospel, being with people who are rough around the edges? (eg, Winchester Friends, what Pam and Ron Ferguson are doing with their prison ministry) How often are we willing to set off and follow a leading of Christ--wait, how often do we sit down to pray and wait upon the Lord with one another or even ask, "Christ, what are you asking of me?" Do it more, and our evangelism will improve.

> 4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the
> earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

I'm not sure--we don't have a serious discipleship program, we kind of do what comes naturally at West Richmond Friends (loving and saying it with your life), but not setting up systems like some other meetings. At West Richmond Friends, a lmost everyone is doing some kind of service, but the meeting as a whole rarely does service together. I think sometimes they aren't imaginative and daring enough to suit me. I think sometimes Indiana Yearly Meeting gets too caught up on copying evangelical Christians elsewhere (techniques and methods) and kind of disregards the whole rich heritage of Quakerism. But I was heartened to attend YM sessions last year which were looking more like Quaker business and fellowship, the way I think it should be.

May God bless and prosper your work and fill you with hope and joy!

Love,
MK
 
  
Janet Scott 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism May 27 2004, 10:27 AM 

> 1. How would you explain what evangelism is to a nonbeliever?

I would explain it phenomenologically ie, evangelism is the process by which churches reach out and try to convert people to Christianity. Among British Quakers, the process is called Outreach and has less emphasis on 'conversion' and more on enabling people to recognise what they already are.

> 2. How would you explain what evangelism is to someone who is already a Christian but not a theologian?

Ideally evangelism takes account of the fact that Christ (or the Holy Spirit) is already at work in someone's life, and helps them to pay attention to and respond to that work.

> 3. In presenting Friends faith and practice, is it more important to emphasize the central role of Christ and then introduce issues of ethics and discipleship at a later point, or do you find that the ethical and social concerns are a more effective introduction to Friends' Christian faith? If the answer is "it depends," what does it depend on?

Both the spiritual and the ethical are important and different people may be reached by different aspects of the Quaker message, depending on what is happening in their experience; some come because they are peace activists, some because they want the silent worship. The most important thing is to help them pay attention to the Inward Teacher and to their own call. Be careful not to overemphasise Christ at the expense of a Trinitarian understanding - God may first be met as creator or as inspirer.

> 4. In the history of your Friends meeting or yearly meeting, did the earliest Friends consider this question (#3)? What was their answer?

I think the approach outlined above is compatible with the approach of early Friends in Britain - eg, 'answering that of God in every one' or 'what is that which commends you when you do well and rebukes you when you do ill?' I don't think Fox et al saw any difference between preaching Christ and preaching and practising the life which is the life of the Kingdom. Walking in the Light, or walking according to Truth is about relationship and behaviour.
 
   
Esther Mombo
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism June 21 2004, 3:22 PM 

1. HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN WHAT EVANGELISM IS TO A NON BELIEVER.
As a Christian I believe the Bible contains information which is history and also good news about salvation. As a believer am obliged to share the good news by evangelising or telling others and not proselytising, and or converting anyone to any sect or religion. But as a Christian I believe in two fundamental truths first that God can change anyone whom He/She likes to change and two everyone has the freedom to change if he feels God wants to change him /her.

2. HOW WOULE YOU EXPLAIN WHAT EVANGELISM IS TO SOMEONE WHO IS ALREADY A CHRISTIAN BUT NOT A THEOLOGIAN.
The Bible tells us that God loves us. God has made it possible for us to change our nature so that not only are we saved from punishment of sin but can even stop committing sins. This is good news and this good news should be spread among all people. The good news was brought to us by Jesus christ who mirrors to us who God is. It is through Jesus Christ that we know God's love, forgiveness, holiness and other ideals.

3. CENTRALITY OF CHRIST AND ISSUES OF ETHICS.
In the context in which I have been brought up as a Friend, the beginning point is the centrality of Christ. Ethical issues come after the stress and or knowledge of the centrality of Christ. My context is saturated with evangelism and campaigns about knowing Christ as Lord and Saviour. This has coloured people's understanding of the Christian faith. The way people deal with ethical issues depend on the position held of the centrality of Christ. It is clear that most Quakers in my meeting have been evangelised either through preaching or from a family tradition, being brought up in 'Quaker family and or Christian family. Most of the time if you have been brought up in a Quaker family, it is assumed that the family was Christian.

In Quaker yearly meetings, there is a week of bible exposition, at the end of each one of these there is an altar call which is intended to challenge people to choose to follow Christ if they have not or to re-commit themselves to Christ if their faith has been weak. Very few times do I see ethical issues being dealt with using Quaker testimonies. In fact the only Quaker Testimony you hear being spoken about is the peace testimony, but this again is varied the way it is used. I can confess that the Quaker s of my part of world has not been the best examples on Quaker ideals leave alone the peace testimony. I can argue that most of the Quaker s are influenced by their cultural background more than anything else.. 

4. THE POSITION OF EARLIEST FRIENDS IN MY YEARLY MEETING.
Quakers was introduced to Kenya by Friends who had been converted or experienced revival in the USA. This influenced the way they dealt with ethical issues. It was first the knowledge of Christ and how that influenced one's decisions and choices. Most of us Friends are second or third generation Christians and we still have hang ups of missionary teaching and the struggle with ethical issues are an ongoing struggle. With the introduction of Quakerism, the issue was seen as a move from traditional culture to European Culture which was then equated to Christianity. This shift caused confusion on ethical issues and still lingers with people today. As noted above the African culture is the one that most Quakers will use to deal with their ethical issues rather than Quaker testimonies and/or the Bible.
 
    
Esther Mombo
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism June 21 2004, 4:03 PM 

[NOTE from Johan - I asked Esther for some clarifications about her answers to the 'four questions'. I felt that I could read her as both advocating the priority of Christian conversion AND signalling some doubts about that position. Here's her reply.]

Dear Johan,
Am in the US at the moment but can try and remember what i said if you are still in the uk.

questions:

1. Most people would begin with the centrality of Christ and then deal witht the ethical issue. Most times the centrality of Christ is eiteher a cover up when actually when they deal with an ethical issue they are using their cultural perspectives.

According to me it should be the centrality of Christ and how that impacts on the issue even when it goes beyond their cultural perspectives. For example most of the meetings will not have women in the highest position because it is culturally not right. so they forget how christ treated women and the culture of his day. some of the people who will deny women postions will claim to be very christ centred.

2. "My context is saturated with evangelism and campaigns about knowing Christ as Lord and Saviour." [Johan: I asked, "Is this saturation good or bad, or some of both? Would more emphasis on ethical witness give a renewed vigour to evangelism in a social context in which 'campaigns about knowing Christ' are commonplace? Or am I reading too much into your reply?"]

I think this saturation is negative because it has tended to create schizophrenic christians who say one thing and do the opposite. It has created people with the right language but it has not affect the way they live. Meetings are forced to behave like american teleevangelists and young people are cofused with this kind of preaching so it is not a good idea.

"Do we need more emphasis on BOTH the central reality of Christ and the ethical witness that might speak in society?"

I think those groups like in my meeting claim the centrality of Christ they should have both clearly taken.

I hope that is ok but we can still converse.
Thanks
Esther.

 
Vail Palmer 
(no login)
Re: Four questions about evangelism June 21 2004, 4:16 PM 

Responding primarily to # 3:

My initial response is "neither"!

A. The essence of Friends testimonies (ethical & social concerns) is that they are responses/witnesses to Christ. To begin with them, without their source, is to leave ourselves open to critiques such as those of Scott Simon (is that the correct name), who has created such an ongoing furore in Friends Journal.

B. To begin with Christ (or "the central role of Christ") implies one of two things:

B1. That there is such a thing as "generic Christianity". J.J. Gurney is a primary example of this approach -- he wrote 500+ pages of doctrines which he claimed all Christians agreed on as ESSENTIAL to Christian salvation -- and another book on "Quaker distinctives", including the testimonies. But his book on Christianity included a number of doctrines and approaches that were foreign to original Quakerism (e.g., substitutionary theory of the atonement; the purpose of revelation being knowledge ABOUT God rather than knowledge OF God; a "handbook" rather than an "empathetic" reading and application of scripture). I am convinced there is no such thing as "generic Christianity" . To begin with Christ is to start with a particular., distinctive understanding of who Christ is and How Christ answers the questions/needs of life.

B2. To begin with Christ is to begin with a PARTICULAR understanding of Christ. A popular approach in contemporary evangelism is to call on the hearer to "accept Christ as personal savior" Apart from the egregious non-biblicism of that formulation, it is also a beginning not used by original Friends, and it is well nigh impossible, from that beginning, to move with any integrity to the testimonies of Friends. What then is a "simple" popular understanding of Christ that exemplifies with integrity the distinctively Quaker approach to Christ? Given the existing diversity of Quaker views as to what the heart/core of Quaker Christianity really is, how do we answer that question. That is the point at which I am still struggling: "Christ has come to teach his people himself"? The Lamb's War? Fox's empathetic reading of scripture ("were you there when they crucified my Lord?")?

Because of my continuing struggles on this, I find it practically impossible to answer questions 1 & 2!

In the meantime, maybe all we can do is to pickup on the suggestion in yesterday's Forum class -- use the 12-step programs approach of simply telling our own stories (both as individuals and as a community)?!

Vail
 
  
Licia Kuenning 
(Login LiciaKuenning)
Generic Christianity August 12 2004, 2:53 PM 

Vail Palmer wrote,

"I am convinced there is no such thing as "generic Christianity.'"

And I think there must be, though it might be difficult to pin down what it is. As is well known, C.S. Lewis attempted such a presentation in his book Mere Christianity. He didn't succeed perfectly: there are a number of things in the book that don't fit in with Quakerism. But if he hadn't made the attempt I might not be a Christian today.

If there is no generic Christianity then Christian history consists of a series of cults, each hopelessly in bondage to the particular historical circumstances, and the personalities of the leaders, that gave rise to it. Is that really all there is?

Licia Kuenning
Friends of Truth/Glenside Friends Meeting/Quaker Heritage Press

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