There are Quakers who say, “I’m a Christian” and there are Quakers who say, “I’m not a Christian”. There are also Quakers who say, “I’m not a Christian, but….” And Quakers who say, “ I am a Christian, but…”. I’m one of those last ones – a fFriend put it nicely when she described her Quakerism as “a different kind of Christianity”.
I do think there was a man called Jesus who preached in the Middle East about 2000 years ago.
I don’t know whether Jesus was the son of God, more than I am God’s child and we all are, but I don’t think that knowing the answer to that is the most important thing.
My Christianity is based on general principles, rather than on specific doctrines or beliefs: it seems, and feels, right to me to try and base my actions on the advice of someone who said “love one another”, “do not judge other people” and “love your enemy”.
In the past, I’ve had difficulty deciding what I believe about various stories and points of theology, and I still haven’t found many answers. Instead, I’ve concluded that it doesn’t matter whether the stories in the bible are facts or allegories. If they’re not ‘gospel truth’, it doesn’t make them any less important: I once read that allegories and parables are designed “to distract us while the truth slips in through a back window”.
I don’t think the bible was put together so that we could bicker for centuries about the likelihood of the world being made in seven days, or of virgin births or of bodily resurrection after death – I think its function is to inspire those who read it to live their lives in a loving, creative, compassionate and thoughtful way.
My aim is to live in the spirit of Christ: as it is expressed in Advices & Queries: “…to find inspiration in the life and teachings of Jesus”. This doesn’t mean I can’t also find inspiration in the teachings of other faiths, and of people with no defined faith, but it gives me something to come home to.