Quantcast

Is thee truly a Friend?

I have been led to write this and ask it of all who will listen. This is a leading that has burned in me for a while and begs to be acted on more each day. I am led to ask all who call themselves Quaker or Friend to look deep inside and see if that name is truly deserved of them. As I’ve learned of late, there are ones who use hirelings for their meetings and call themselves Friends. There are those who worship in fancy steeplehouses and take up tithes and call themselves Friends. There are those who are agnostic or atheist, and call themselves Friends. There are those who are called liberal and accept all manner of behavior and call themselves Friends. There are also ones who are hyphenated Quakers, such as Catholic‐Quaker, Buddhist‐Quaker, Zen‐Quaker, etc.

Where are all the steadfast, sober, and devout Quakers of old? Has Quakerism become so diverse and politically correct that it is but a shadow of what it was, and was meant to be? The early Friends talked against paid preachers, ordination, tithes, steeplehouses, the fashions of the world and other things now embraced by “modern Quakers.” Where are all the Quakers willing to be fined for civil disturbance for preaching the truth in public, or speaking truth in another’s church?

It is hard to live by the teachings of the founders of Quakerism, and to have religious devotion as strong as they, but no harder than it was for them. Are modern Quakers so soft and undevoted that we cannot express our religious beliefs outwardly as they did, or be willing to look hard at our lifestyle for fear of being ostracized or punished? Or could it be that there are so very few today who truly and deeply believe in the Scriptures and teachings of George Fox, Isaac Penington, Robert Barclay, that they are not talked of? Has Quakerism become so mild, meek, diverse, and accepting that it is now something else? If thee looks at the epistles of Fox, the writings of Barclay and others, thee would see that what is called Quakerism now barely resembles what they intended. How many who call themselves Quaker have the strength to live by their writings today? How many live each moment as if the Holy Spirit is beside them as the Lord said? How many refuse to swear oaths? One who truly lives as a Friend could not take an oath to be a doctor, lawyer, police officer, servant of the court, or any career requiring an oath. Where are the Friends with fire and brimstone in their words, speaking truth to those not yet walking in the Light?

I’ve been told that Quakerism had to change and adapt to survive. I’m not sure this is true. The Amish live as they do quite well without as much adaptation as Quakerism has gone through. Fox said in an epistle that Friends were to be as strangers in the world and to the world. It seems Quakerism was adapted more to fit in than for survival.

From the Scriptures and writings of early Friends we are admonished against judgment of others, but before calling thyself a Friend each should study what the profession truly means and discern for thyself if thee could truly and devoutly live with the name. The early Friends were extremely devout people who would and did give up their very lives before doing something that might jeopardize their souls. Where is such strength of devotion today? When was the last time thee truly quaked or cried at the power of the Lord? When was the last time thee said thank thee to the early Friends who were whipped, imprisoned, forced to leave their homes, country, and family, or were hanged for their beliefs? Would thy beliefs and devotion be as strong today? If Quakerism today is but a shadow of what it was, then woe unto it, for is not Christ Jesus the light from which all shadows flee?

James Wilkerson
Durant, Okla.

Posted in: Features

,

Sign up for Friends Journal's weekly e-newsletter. Quaker stories, inspiration, and news emailed every Monday.

ATTENTION: The website will be undergoing maintenance between June 3 and June 20, 2020. Comments made during this period may get inadvertently deleted. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Web comments may be used in the Forum column of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.