An Apologetic for a Quaker Theology | Do We Need It (or want it)?

This is a response to a comment I received yesterday about Quaker theology. The comment was good enough that I decided to write a post about it, because I know that many people have the same questions and challenges it brought up. Theology should be done in a way that is not only sensible (in terms of its sources and clarity) but also sensible in terms of its practicality. In other words, as one of my professors used to say, “if your theology doesn’t work, it’s bad theology.” This post tries to set forth why the pursuit of theology can and should be something we support. I’ve yet to really address an apology for why the Friends Church need Quaker theologians (something I am challenged on fairly constantly), and so this is my first attempt of many to come. The post is written as a response to the comment and not as a typical post Continue reading

Towards a Post-Foundationalist Quaker Theology: Slavoj Zizek, Quietism and Pink Dandelion

Accepting the whole of a tradition and not just the parts

I found Slavoj Zizek’s opening to his book The Fragile Absolute, to be instructive for a present day study of Quaker theology. He begins by presenting the challenge of two choices: How is a Marxist to counter all the various “thoughts” of the post-modern era? “The obvious answer seems to be not only ferociously to attach these tendencies, but mercilessly to denounce the remainders of the religious legacy of Marxism itself (Zizek, 2000:1).” But the other choice, not so obvious, is to in fact “fully endorse what one is accused of (Zizek, 2000:2).” In other words the second choice is a complete reversal of the first option. Christianity and Marxism are directly connected, they ought to fight on the same side. The atheist Zizek argues, “…the authentic Christian legacy is much to precious to be left to the fundamentalists and freaks (2).”

Zizek concludes by discussing one similarity between Christians and Marxists, a number of both “believers” fetishize the early “authentic” followers and against those who “institutionalized” it (Saint Paul, Lenin). This is the “yes to Christ, not to Saint Paul” campaign, and it is the same as those who are the “humanist Marxists” and deny Lenin as a role within the Marxist tradition. “In both cases, one should insist that such a “deference of the authentic” is the most perfidious mode of its betrayal: there is no Christ outside Saint Paul,” just as there is no ‘authentic Marx’ without Lenin (Zizek 2000:2). Continue reading

Loving Ourselves To Death? A Theological Reflection of Jesus, Self-Love and Modernity

quaker meeting house[This is cross-posted from the BYM blog] In the context of talking about Quaker work, one of our sessions yesterday, something was said about loving ourselves before we can love others. In this dualistic perspective the inward comes before the outward and there is no room for a circular interplay between the two. Jesus was quoted as supporting this idea when he said in (Matt. 22:37-39) “He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ And a second [command] is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Continue reading

Allelon: Video Interview with Ryan Bolger on Emerging and Missional Churches

There is great half-hour video of my PhD advisor, Ryan Bolger, where he discusses what emerging churches and missional churches are. During the interview he discusses with Alan Roxburgh of Allelon, and author of the Sky is Falling, some of the major points of similarities, differences, and some possible connecting points of these two movements. Continue reading

Marquee: Emerging Approaches to Church Leadership (And The Fading Ones Too)

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In our class on The Emerging Church, we spend a good amount of time talking about what leadership looks like, and what it doesn’t because these questions tend to be pretty pressing for seminary students planning on going into the ministry upon graduation. The missional and emerging churches, along with an assortment of anabaptist, radical catholic groups and Quaker meetings stress a non-hierarchical leadership role. Continue reading

Trends within the Convergent Friends Conversation

Last week I went to a Friends conference (FWCC) in Rhode Island, and have already talked about it at some length. But the point of this short post was to point out a number of trends, or characteristics that I saw beginning to frame the overall conversation of convergent Friends. Continue reading