How I Came to Quakers from Evangelical Christianity


One thing I really appreciate about this Quaker
Meeting—this is my only experience of Quaker Meetings—one thing I really appreciate about
this meeting is that we allow space. We just clear the table or we try to clear
our palates. We are expecting God to speak in different
ways because we are different people. My name is Eric Baker. I’m a part of First Friends Meeting in Indianapolis,
Indiana, and I’m the music director here. I grew up in a very conservative—almost
fundamental—Evangelical church setting, and really my whole adult life—or let’s
say the first 15, even 20, years of my adult life—was me really questioning the values,
the language, the theology behind that. I was the music director at a large non-denominational
Evangelical church not far from here. Six, 7 thousand people. It just wasn’t working for me. So for about 2 years, I was trying to figure
out the best way to leave that and also to do the best things for me. Really, it sounds funny, but this was the
first time in my life, in my late thirties, that I was getting the opportunity to figure
this out apart from what I was doing vocationally. I was really not familiar with the Quakers
at all. I had read a few authors, people like Parker
Palmer and Phillip Gulley, and it really resonated with me. It’s kind of funny, at the big church where
I was directing the music, one of my jobs was to make sure that everything was programmed,
and now I look back and it’s sort of “entertainment church” where there’s lots of moving lights
and screens and a full band and smoke and all that stuff. I walked in here, and this is a semi-programmed
meeting, so we have music and a message, but there are going to be multiple times throughout
the meeting where it’s just silent. So the first time I walked in, I think the
minister got up and read a scripture and she sat down and nobody did anything, and I thought,
“Oh boy, how embarrassing is this? Somebody has missed their cue.” And man, it’s my first time here, I wonder
if this happens often. And then four or five seconds stretches into
15 seconds, into 30 seconds, and I start to realize what’s going on, and I at first
was very uncomfortable. And then I looked around, and I thought, no
one else seems to be uncomfortable. Just be cool. I can sit through this. I can weather whatever this is, you know? I grew up in such a Jesus-centric environment. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. And that was used as this, like, “Hey we’ve
got the answer and those people, they don’t.” So what do we need to do? We need to tell them about Jesus, whether
it’s people in the inner city, or people in Africa, or the kids I go to school with. One of the things that I just really started
to struggle with, even early into my twenties, was this idea that we all had to be on the
same page when it comes to what we believe. But what that does is it sends this message
that if you believe this, then you’re with us. If you don’t, then either you’re not with
us or you may really may need to think about coming over to our side, and I always really
struggle with that. So to now say not only are we not going to
make you say what we believe in this one voice—so making sure: “Hey, we’re all on the same
page, right?”—we’re not going to say anything. And we’re going to allow God to speak into
this. It took a little while for me to not only
learn that, but to give myself permission that that was okay. That God is not this, that our experience
of how religion should be is not this, it’s this. Recognizing the light of God in every person
has been a goal of mine to try and unlearn a lot of things. Recognizing the light of God in every person
that’s different than me, that looks different than me, that has a different ethnic background
or socioeconomic background or sexual identity or… I don’t understand their world, but they
are created in the image of God. It’s not, “I recognize that you are created
in the image of God and you’re welcome into this place. Now, we need to get you in here and talk about
this sin in your life.” That’s been my experience. It’s like, yeah, everybody’s welcome here. And then they can sit here and get changed
until they’re just like the rest of us. What if we don’t do that? What if I don’t purport to know exactly
what a follower of God or Jesus Christ is supposed to look like? What if there’s no “supposed-to-look-like?” What if we just say, “You are created in
the image of God and I am created in the image of God and I recognize that in you and the
value that you have because of that and the beauty that you bring to me and my life and
the perspective and the value on your ideas and your thoughts and the value that brings
to this meeting.” What if we just do that? That’s what’s had such a significant impact
on me.

8 comments

  1. I've watched numerous videos of unprogrammed Quaker meetings and have come to the conclusion that it's not much different from some New Age practices based on ancient Far East religions and philosophies where u look within for answers and connection to the Divine. Often (though not always)Jesus is left out of the equation not recognized as God or the Son. So, other than for the silence, Quakerism ends up being very much like
    Unitarian Universalists where anything goes and members are free to believe whatever they want. I can't imagine this being the same as Quakerism of the past (1700's-1800's) where the belief in Christ as God the Son and Savior permeated through early America.
    On the surface modern Quakerism (unprogrammed) looks appealing (so do eastern Meditation practices) but it feels like the religion has been reduced to a philosophical and meditative practice rather than a spiritual one.
    For me, I believe that reading/ studying the Bible, following God's commands & teachings along with contemplation and prayer are essential to my relationship with God the Father and the Son.
    Sadly, the speaker had a bad experience with one conservative Evangelical church and bases his entire framework on that one experience.

  2. I came out of Christianity when I saw the lies perpetrated by the them: Sabbath, feast days substituted by Christmas and Easter (no comparison, by the way–keeping the feasts is SO MUCH MORE than either of those things) and many other things. Unfortunately, mainstream Quakerism has deviated from George Fox and into woo-woo airy-fairy land. I loved loved loved the unprogrammed meetings and consider that model to be more representative of primeval believers (won't say "Christianity" because that was a later invention), but can't do the permeability and plasticity of the Scriptures. If all of it isn't true, then none of it is.

  3. sit in silence…empty 1slf as Messiah Yahshua…phn 2…& wait

    if our existence be evidence that we, humankind, did not initiate our existence, then The Initiator is The Initiator of all, all of the time…

    being truly humble does not require that we deny the truth; being truly humble requires our willingness-enabling to wait & be led by the truth…

    G.O.D./The Generating Omnipotent-scient-present Designer/Determiner has to be The Initiator…

    in other words, G.O.D., The Initiator is The Supreme Parent of all who & that exist…if this be true & it is, then in general, what stage of development would we, humankind be in relationship to our Supreme Parent, G.O.D., The Initiator…?

    how independent do we presume humanity to be from/of The Supreme Parent…?

    if we did not initiate our existence as humankind or as individuals, then what do we initiate…we are the effect of G.O.D.'s initiation; always & absolutely…if this be true, & it is, should we presume anything or should we ask our Supreme Parent, G.O.D./The Initiator, about everything…?

    do not presume u r to be the instructor of another…do not presume u r not to be the instructor of another; simply ask yur Supreme Parent…do not presume u know Messiah Yahshua…do not presume u do not know Messiah Yahshua; simply ask yur Supreme Parent…

    The Initiator does not need us to figure out what to believe…The Initiator has already initiated all…hence, we sit in silence…empty ourselves…& wait…then we each move & hv our being in the initiation of G.O.D.'s truth, ways & thots…

    no1 comes to The Holy Father & The Holy Mother, unless The Holy Son enables them…

    no1 comes to The Holy Son unless The Holy Mother & The Holy Father enables them…

    if G.O.D. be willing & according to G.O.D.'s grace, may these words & this video be a blessing of favor to many…

    https://youtu.be/2ce83gcNnBA
    terri a.

  4. Wonderful video! I've been to big mega-churches and my main complaint is that many of them seem to just be a form of entertainment. People go there for the music, the skits, the light shows, etc. With the Quakers, it is much more spiritual. You sit in silence to hear the voice of God.

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published