The next section (6A) of the book looks at some writing by Robert Barclay, from his Apology. His answer about what makes someone Christian is:
if we make a definition of a Christian which is scriptural, that a Christian is one who has the Spirit of Christ and is led by it, we will have to divest many [so-called] Christians…of that designation.
Ouch, burn! 🔥 Early Quakers would divide people into “professors” and “possessors.” Professors only talked the talk. Possessors walked the walk. Remember: we named ourselves “Friends” because Jesus said “you are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you.” So, obedience is super important. They were not afraid to call other Christians apostates. (Correspondingly, other Christians have never been afraid to call us apostates and heretics.)
Many Christians today would still say Quakers aren’t Christians. They might point to our lack of water baptism, or that we don’t make a habit of communion with physical elements. Or that we don’t have Apostolic succession for our ministers. And then there’s the non-creedal thing. We we refuse to point at and adopt a specific creed, such as the Apostles Creed or Nicene Creed. Thus, they’d say we are outside of the faith. Today, we learned Mackenzie can no longer keep those two creeds separate in her head, but Micah can. He even knows the new translation of the Nicene Creed.
Martin Luther, the guy that started the Protestant Reformation, says a church is a place where the Word is preached and sacraments are properly administered. By that, he meant the Bible is preached, which isn’t exactly how Quakers have traditionally defined the Word of God.
Barclay compared not being moved by the Spirit to being a corpse. 💀
Take away the Spirit and Christianity is no more Christianity than a corpse is a man, once the soul and spirit have departed. And a corpse is a noisome and useless thing which the living can no longer stand and bury out of sight, no matter how acceptable it was when it was actuated and moved by the soul.
Early Quakers weren’t interested in defining what makes someone a Quaker. However, they had definite opinions on what makes someone Christian. They were just way more concerned with what it means to follow Jesus. Quakers organized into a sect with clearly defined rules and lines later. George Fox’s denunciations of Catholics and basically every other denomination really wouldn’t go over well with modern Quakers. Anyone want to speculate on what Fox would say about modern Quakers?
At the time, these denunciations were a challenge to the power of the Church of England. That challenge changed the community relationship to the other people your geographic area. Micah wonders what relevance this question has today, when there isn’t a monopoly church to be in or out of community with?
- Jon Watts song “Don’t Doff Your Hat“