Quaker Universalist Conversations

Reflections on QUF’s 2019 Themes

A response from the Philippines

During our time together in October, we affirmed that our focus is on Quaker faith and practice underneath a broad theological umbrella. Overarching questions are:

  • How do we manifest the interaction between faith and practice?
  • How do we make the transition from faith into practice, making the “and” into an ongoing process of discernment that moves between the two?

For me, making bread is akin to a religion. I believe in what I believe largely as a mixture between what I was taught and what in my experience I have found to be true. - Alex Legeros Quaker’s faith is all about practical Christianity, both in personal and communal prayers, and personal and communal good works.

Faith can’t be complete without good works. Mere good work without faith to God, the creator, author, and the beginning and end of all things, isn’t also enough. These are inseparable as intertwining. Real faith is walking with good actions in genuinely free-will practice.

We developed five general areas in which to focus, with queries. These are the areas that are the most alive for us, and for which we have the most sense of S/spirit-led clarity.

The Spirit-led life is all-holiness of all aspects from thoughts, to conscience, and to the human spirit.

Justice

What are the universal spiritual underpinnings of justice?

It is, above all, justice to love God, believe in Him, trust Him, glorify Him and serve Him. It’s unjust to not love God, not to trust, believe, glorify and serve Him.

Justice is also, in the temporal level, the distribution of wealth for all people–Justice and charity go together.

What is true justice, as contrasted with legalistic or retributive justice?

Justice to become real must be grounded in God’s words in the Bible. Legalistic and retributive justice are partly biblical and partly man-made. All forms of justice are derived from God’s divine justice. Justice without any root from God is a dangerous form of justice.

How do we make justice manifest in the world?

There are so many kinds and approaches, schemes or paradigms to make justice manifest in the world. For example, personal, communal, social, financial-economic justice could come in part from providing Universal Basic Income or UBI to every citizen of the world. This would be in accord with the universal rights given by God’s grace, in tandem with basic principles of human rights.

Economy

What is right Quaker engagement in the economic realities of our neighbors and world?

The words of God are more than enough to do good to our neighbors both personal and communal, and our empathy, solidarity, compassion, mercy, and fellowship with our neighbors particularly the hopeless, the helpless, the poor, the needy and all others in miserable and terrible crisis.

How do we look beneath appearances, beyond ideologies, to discern the real consequences for living beings of today’s global economic changes?

I think it has something to do with contentment and sharing with others in need what is in excess. Sharing with others, particularly those in need, is the bottom line of everything whether people or populations are in the age of plenty or in the age of scarcity.

How do we act to manifest real justice in the economic sphere?

We need to be supportive of any noble measures for real justice, particularly in the distribution of wealth to every citizen, without discrimination. We’re all care-takers of God’s wealth.

In proper and just methods, wealth is distributed. Each one of us is a co-heir of all God’s wealth—wealth that is intended for the good of ourselves and our neighbors, for the caring of the planet earth and, above all, for the entire glory of God.

Worship

How do we use and teach the Quaker way of waiting worship based in silence as a method, a spiritual discipline, for exploring our concerns and discerning the way forward?

We need to go deeper in the way we pray intimately to and with God, and we need to put good works into actions in free will honesty. Prayerful good work is the expression of oneself with the love of God and love of our neighbors.

Youth

How do we engage children in the exploration of these themes?

We have to be like children, in terms of humility, kindness, hope and submission to live to their world. We have to invite children by God’s hands into explorations of the deepest relationship to God and to their neighbors.

“Olhinhos (little eyes)” by Jane Costa Lima

How do we help parents and families, the “first responders” in this matter?

Pray for all the parents and families, first to act for their children according to the designs, plans, wills of God.

Personal Christian reminders and education are paramount for helping parents to become real parents who represent God. This is needed both for the survival of the families and for the survival of Christian civilization—which is in unity, despite diversity and racial differences and apartheid.

How do we provide opportunities for children to see the adults given witness?

Give them all God’s means, and teach them the best course of action, being good examples who will lead them to maturity and adulthood of faith.

How do we nurture engagement across the generations?

We have to keep nurturing the engagement between God and men closer than ever across the generations.

Language and positions

Quaker universalism challenges us to reexamine the notion of “fundamentalism,” “evangelism” and “conservative vs. liberal” labels that reinforce cultural, religious, and political divides.

How can QUF invite and mediate discussion by people across the spectrum?

We must have unity in diversity across all faith persuasions through the win-win or the middle-ground solutions. There are good things to each group of people. We could find and transmute them into benefits for humanity and thus into perfection.

Religions, sects, religious groups, partisan groups, or simply name-calling can create chasms, apartheid and divisions, as if God is divided. Division is a reality of creatures in this planet. Without it we could hardly find the specific identities of a group or faction of people in their line of thoughts, etc.

Flower of Hayat (color spectrum) Even so, we could create unity, not necessarily ideological or sectarian, but UNITY in the faith of God. Unknowingly, we are already united in the way we pray, in the way we do good despite of our differences.

We don’t need division but merely a kind of discernment to find out who is compatible with different systems and policies, and who is not. We need the “mustard seed of faith” (Matthew 17:20) for us to act with unity of faith for the good of all mankind, for all the children of God.

What in our history and traditions would we like to conserve? What do we want to liberate?

The salvation history and the traditions of faith and good works with free will, not ritual sacrifices that must be conserved by means of God’s love, not by way of mere rituals and human traditions. We must be liberated from hypocrisy, egoism, bureaucracy, selfishness, greed, and our hatred of our enemies. the existential tradition of mankind since the time of Cain and Abel was the traditions of hatred, of greed, of envy, of pride.

What are the fundamentals of our faith and practice to keep in view?

Our practically-free-will personal and communal prayers, and our personal and communal good actions as models or examples to others.

How do we share our faith and practice with others (a form of evangelism)?

By good examples of humble prayers and practically-free-will good works to others. We pray, we do good works. We do good works, we pray. They’re in the equilibrium of interest to God for the good of ourselves.

How do we relate to “liberals” and “conservatives”?

Liberals and conservatives are two groups of people apparently claiming to be in the faith to God according to their personal freedoms, rituals and traditions. They have good things to offer to each other according to their personal freedoms, and freedom of expressions.

Liberality of loving God above all, and our neighbors. Liberality of acting, doing, initiating, sacrificing for life-soul-saving efforts for our brethren in crisis, in dangerous situations, etc. Liberality of distributing the goods of the earth equally for all people.

Conservatism, let say, carefully and meticulously keeping the words of God, and the rituals and formulated or traditional prayers and faith statements for the sake of the minority of their memberships.

However, there are negative effects also in being liberals and conservatives that I could write also in details. That’s part of the faith. One’s faith is not always perfect without the aid of others from the other side of the spectrum.

The fulcrum of real faith is positioned between being a bit liberal and a bit conservative, not to say, relativistic. I must call it “balanced faith” which is, in my humble opinion, the real faith of practical actions.

How do the teachings of Jesus relate to fundamentals, conservation and liberation?

The teachings of Jesus are existentially covering up to all, both conservatives and liberals. The words of Jesus are a double-edged sword, hitting both conservatives and liberals for them to act according to the Spirit of God. Errors arise from peoples of faiths in factions, but out of errors things can be transmuted and perfected.

The fundamental is faith to God, this is non-negotiable to please God.

We need to conserve God’s love and to love Him back always, and our neighbors, including our enemies. We need to conserve the values and virtues that characterize our identity as Christians, etc.

Liberation is very important, because that’s a freedom of oneself, not only from sins, from wrong notions of faith and rituals and traditions. The most important thing in liberation is that we’re liberated to love God anytime, and our neighbors. Liberalism in love of God, of the real, of the genuine, of the noble, of the truths, of the beautify, and, most challenging, of trying to love our enemies.

Quaker universalism reframes the term “evangelism” as being willing to express one’s faith publicly. What is our “good news”?

The ultimate good news is that the words of God embrace us all with love, mercy, and compassion of Him.

How do we express our faith?

The best expression of our faith is by taking conservative and liberal and the good things in between, as appropriate and practical, with little prejudice of both sides, keeping it until the end in perseverance with personal prayers and good works as models.

How can universalist Quakers engage in the business of evangelism in ways that are true to our faith and practice?

The faith must be in conformity with good works–that’s evangelism. We share the love of God, while we do the WORKS OF LOVE for the love of God, and of our neighbors.

What is the role of QUF
in exploring the transformative themes above?

Make known to everybody all over the way we pray personally, practically, humbly, and the way we take good actions, all in conformity with our faith and practice.

QUF Logo


Image Sources

Loaf of bread,” Creative Commons image republished by The Gustavian Weekly in “An afterward to bread-making,” by Alex Legeros (11/5/2010).

Olhinhos (little eyes)” by Jane Costa Lima on flickr (Indaial, Santa Catarina, Brazil; 10/18/2007) [Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic ].

“Color wheel’ from Color Theory PNG by KissPNG.

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