During the discussion at NEYM Sessionson renaming the Christian Education committee
, I started
thinking about other meanings of Christian education, and those
thoughts have been percolating ever since. My first thoughts were
about the need to educate Christians. Although early Friends thought
that they were on a mission to spread their gospel to the entire
world, it turned out that it was mostly a matter of educating
Christians. When they spoke in the steeple-houses, or in the yards
outside when they were not allowed to speak inside, they were trying
to educate Christians about the true nature of Christianity.
Christianity as they experienced it and understood it, bore little
relationship to what was being preached in many of the churches.
They did not pull any punches about this, either. Barclay called the
doctrine of predestination “a horrid blasphemy against the love of
God.” It appears to me that a large portion of the Christian
Church in America has become captive to the kingdoms of this world.
Early Friends saw themselves as primitive Christianity revived. We
need to educate ourselves and others about how revived Christianity
is different from what we see around us.
The second area of Christian education
that came to mind is based on who it is that comes to our meetings.
Many people come to Friends suffering some sort of spiritual trauma
from whatever tradition they came from. Many of these people have
difficulty hearing Christian language. At some point we need to be
clear, as Quakers, that our view of Christianity is different from
what it was where they came from. We need to be able to
articulate a non-traumatic and healing vision of Christianity. And
we need to embody this vision in our lives and in our meetings.
With this in mind I am planning to
start a series of posts on Christian education. I will be discussing
various aspects of Christian theology and what the Quaker take on it
is. Much of what I will have to say will not be unique to Quakerism,
but I will try to identify how the Quaker tradition embodies these
things. Some Friends are not comfortable with theological
discussions, but ultimately any faith tradition is an embodiment of a
particular theology. It is difficult to understand the puzzling or
unique aspects of any faith tradition without understanding the
theology that underlies it. For instance, it is strange to find out
that some Catholic and Episcopal churches have special sinks that are
not connected to the regular plumbing . But if you know that these
sinks are used for washing the dishes used during the Eucharist and
if you understand the concept of transubstantiation, it is easier to
understand that people would not want any drops of wine or crumbs of
wafer that have become the physical body and blood of Christ, to be
washed out into the common sewer. Quakerism has its own quirks and
oddities. I do not intend to discuss our peculiarities of
architecture, but I do expect to discuss some of our unique
religious, organizational and cultural structures.
This is all matter that I am still
working on myself, so I hope that what I write can be a starting
point for discussion.
Labels: Christian Education