A sketch of my evolution, despite encounters with predatory priests and a vindictive draft board, from youthful candidate for the Catholic priesthood to adult a-theistic Quaker who still asserts that “God is love.”
In 1 John, the apostle makes the explicit identification of God and agapē — universal love — that can serve as the primary interpretive principle for post-theistic Friends in our reading of both scripture and the Quaker tradition.
A 21st-century adaptation of George Fox’s Epistle CXXX, “To all Friends, to dwell in the truth, the life of God, the light, &c.” (1656).
Life in agapē is life in the “freedom of the children of God,” the liberty of those whose Spirit is divine. It differs radically from the ersatz liberty of the human spirit that, breathing where it believes it should, remains nonetheless enclosed.
[W]ithin us is a relational spirit that “never consents” to selfishness. That holy spirit, which we tend to repress, constantly critiques our attitudes and actions, … wanting to awaken us to the divine power and wisdom waiting in our hearts.
We are pacifists because, re-centered in God-who-is-agapē, we find that love is stronger than our fear and anger.