A Friend After 50 Years

A record of one journey into a peculiar type of Quaker Christianity, and a bit of silliness to boot.

Location: Arkansas

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An Online Worship Sharing Opportunity

I am genuinely (not merely argumentatively) interested in what it means to Friends when they say that Jesus might have been "alive" either prior to or subsequent to his existence as a human being on earth. Are we talking about a spirit of love and compassion, which we are all capable of feeling within our hearts? Or is Jesus a discrete "entity" who exists in a spiritual dimension and interacts with us from there? (Or are there other alternatives?) I favor the former interpretation, but again I am genuinely interested in how others view this and am willing to listen with an open mind and heart. I will not argue with any responses, although I might post followup questions for the sake of achieving clarity. I view this as a sort of online worship-sharing opportunity rather than a debate.

Having said that, I would like to ask that any responders address this specific question without rambling too far afield into other matters of religious faith or doctrine. Thanks.


Blogger JT said...

I believe that Christ is God, the One who is, has been, and always will be. As such, he is not only a Creator whow made the universe or a man who lived on this earth, but the Spirit who lives in all of us.


3:42 PM  
Blogger Dave Carl said...

Thanks for dropping by and for your commenting JT. See, you're ensnared in Quaker blogworld already!

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

For me, Jesus lives in my heart by his teachings both writen in the Bible and taught to me by his Spirit. Did he literally resurrect and walk among the first Christians until his ascention? Heck, I don't know.

But I do know that it is Jesus that speaks to my heart in the Silence of the Gathered Community.

I tend to not know how this is or even wish to come to any rational explanation. Spent to many years in fundamentalism and felt I had to have an answer for everyting. These days I just accept the fact that Jesus "walks with me and talks with me and he tells me that I am his own."


8:28 AM  
Anonymous Aj said...

Miroslav Volf is a writer/theologian that I have really appreciated in regards to asking questions and exploring options of what the Trinity means. Heavy stuff, but really good.

Personally, I have a hard time answering that question without a whole bunch of "Christianese" coming out. I tend to look at what does it mean that I believe Christ is alive now rather than pre-world's-creation, which would explain why I'd never make it at seminary. :)

Might I ask what is prodding your interest?

9:15 AM  
Blogger Dave Carl said...

AJ, your question initiated what started as a "quick reply" but turned into something much lengthier that I now deem worthy of an independent entry. So please see the new post: "Why I Ask" and thanks for dropping by!


12:35 PM  
Blogger Dave Carl said...


Also, I meant to say that you are welcome to use whatever language best expresses your thoughts or feelings on this. I'd invite you to read the Why I Ask post first, if you like, to possibly get a better feel for what kind of animal you are talking to here!


1:09 PM  
Anonymous Bowen said...

Some early Quakers used to make a distinction between the "Inner Christ" and the "Historical Jesus" (who was the perfect embodiment of the former). The Inner Christ (the "Word" in the Gospel of John, the "Seed" (and many other metaphors) in Fox) has always been active in the world.

Barclay has this amazing notion that Jesus's sacrificial death on the cross reached back in time to redeem souls who died before He was born. As an atheist, I cannot dispute such a claim. I can only stand in awe of it.

5:34 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

I often feel that I am first a universalist in that my experience is that the Divine is so expansive there is no word that can hold it. We can just go to the Divine and see what that love and power has to teach us today.

Also the Jesus of the Gospels as a teacher and prophet has always challenged me to try and live out my life in radical discipleship. Could I sell all I have and give it to the poor? Can I open my heart to those who I strongly disagree with or to those who are marginalized socially in this culture? Could I abandon my life to love even if I was being persecuted or at the times when I see the vulnerability of human life? This Jesus has always stretched me to see my life in another perspective.

The problem is that I rarely if ever am able to really be that disciple all the way.

But then there is the side of Jesus that has tenderness and compassion for all of us, even if we are sinners and tax-collectors, even if all we can muster is the curiousity of Zachias, who watches Jesus from a tree branch.

But so far I am talking about Jesus the man. But not really. We probably know very little about Jesus the man. Really all we know about is the Jesus who lived and was present among the early church (after his death). And even that record is complex and contradictory, so the Jesus I am talking about is the one who lives and is present now in my life as teacher and prophet and gentle guide and friend. I don't think there is any historical Jesus; there is only the Jesus that continued to teach and preach beyond his death.

I understand the resurrection to signify that despite the fact that Jesus was crucified by the powers that always will destroy anyone who attempts to challenge and undermine political and social authority, the early church continued to experience the power and radical love of his way of discipleship. The worst thing happened and nothing changed, the way was still true.

I guess for me I find something enriching in that there is this more specific way of knowing God through Christ. It is another way of knowing the universal Divine. The concretes of his challenging message as well as his tenderness are specific ways to know something of God and how God can change us. Though these concretes certainly don't exhaust God's ways of being with us.

Sorry I might have not stuck to the topic. I tried. What was the exact question?

7:19 PM  
Blogger Mebsy said...

aWhen I think of Jesus, I envision him as a newborn in his mother's arms, beloved, enjoyed, nurtured, protected. His rosebud lips tickle Mary's neck. His soft breath on her chest evokes both calm and shivers. He is the total center of her attention. His develpment is her dearest delight. His little toothless drooly milk smiles make her laugh, for he looks just like a tiny drunken sailor. She inhales his soft yeasty scent and becomes intoxicated with the moment...this holy space...this sliver of heaven on earth. ---In Love, Elizabeth

10:15 PM  

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