Who is Christ?

episode 14: who is Christ?

In this episode we look at answers to the question “who is Christ?” This is section 3C in Traditional Quaker Christianity, a book we’ve been following along. Our very first episode, Jesus Christ is the Word of God, laid the foundation for where Quakerism comes from, but let’s go into what other roles Christ (or Light) plays.

Unchangeable Teacher

In the first passage from George Fox, we read about how the need to keep up with current trends in thought can be a kind of bondage. Fox talks about people becoming “brittle” because of their attempts to adhere to “windy doctrines.” That might sound odd, especially if you think of change as being flexibility and thus an antidote to brittleness. Fox is getting at what some Quakers today refer to as “that which is eternal.” It’s about having firm roots to withstand change.

Micah gives as an example of a thoroughly modern doctrine: prosperity gospel. Let’s say you believe that health and wealth are signs of God’s favor. What happens when you wind up having cancer? You might be shattered. “Why is God punishing me?”

Mackenzie gives young earth creationism as another example of a brittle and changeable faith. Every scientific discovery, in that literalist belief system, requires finding technicalities to keep YEC true. Maintaining that belief requires an elaborate house of cards of belief. If one scientific finding is true, then the whole house of cards falls.

The point is: keep the Spirit at the center, rather than human ideologies.

Who is Christ?

George Fox talk about the different things Christ/Light/Spirit does in our lives. The list of “roles” it plays is listed in the book as:

  • savior
  • shepherd
  • teacher
  • prophet
  • author and finisher of faith

At different points in our lives and for different people, one or another may have emphasis. There can be a danger in emphasizing one to the exclusion of all others. For instance, if “savior by dint of dying on the cross” has exclusive emphasis, all the wonderful things Jesus taught and preached before he died can be left behind!

Something different about how Quakers think about Christ is how Christ is continually present in our lives now. We might say “Inward Teacher” or “Inward Guide” instead of ‘Inward Light” when talking about the Light’s ability to continue teaching us presently.

Jesus as a prophet is another aspect Quakers have an affinity for. Traditional Quaker worship (and the open worship portion during programmed meetings for worship) is all about prophecy. Much of what Jesus taught while on Earth fell in line with the Hebrew prophets, calling people to justice.

During the Hicksite-Orthodox breakup we discussed in episode 8, Edward Hicks (cousin to Elias Hicks) gave an answer to “who is Christ?”:

We have a large and valuable body of Friends, that are neither Arians, Unitarians nor Trinitarians, but firm believers in the plain, emphatical testimonies of Holy Writ, that Jesus Christ was more than a man, and more than a prophet, and are willing to rest their eternal all upon this immutable foundation, with the primitive Saints and primitive Quakers.


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