When I agreed to review Following Jesus: A Guide to Faith and Practice, I expected that my evaluation would include both positive and negative elements. I found, however, that, despite my desire to do so, I could say nothing favorable about the book; its flawed premise vitiates every part. Although tempted to renege, I opted for publication because I felt that the book’s assertions should not go unchallenged. The review as posted here is slightly revised from the version published earlier this month in Quaker Theology #25.
Particularly in this age of what Jean-François Lyotard called “incredulity toward metanarratives,” when master-narratives such as Christianity are perceived as inherently oppressive, to be missional must be to live “in Christ.” The first Quakers knew that to be “in Christ” is to be liberated from the self-centeredness that produces human injustice. [...]
My interest lies in reading the text from a traditional Quaker perspective, which stresses scripture as pointer to inward reality and asserts that the living Christ, not the scripture, is the “Word” of God ….
Nayler was engaging in a bit of “street theater” to demonstrate … that the same Spirit which was in Jesus and his disciples is available to us today ….
We still live under the God of war, not the Prince of Peace. … The “ocean of darkness” is disheartening, but I find courage in the example of those Friends who, despite the failure of the eschaton, never forsook their commitment to the spirit of justice and peace….
The gift of spiritual life, while received and acting inwardly, remains always outside us, “at hand” but beyond our grasp — the gracious presence of the Spirit, the divine relationality ….
According to the first Friends, “that of God in every one” is not simply something in us that calls us to remember God, nor is it an inherent divine identity ….
As veteran readers of this blog will know, my concerns about the contemporary liberal Quaker fascination with what is called “spiritual experience,” a fascination I shared earlier in my life, are longstanding. In this post, I will discuss four of them: unreliability, exclusivity, inutility, and apostasy. [...]