Earlier this week, I sent out a one-question survey asking people what they thought the core truth of Quakerism is and has been since the beginning. So far, 80 responses have come in. We will be doing much more with this information - mostly using it for further discussions and conversations and encouraging Friends how our individual and collective belief informs our actions and our stances on issues. What I want to do here is to give people who are curious the most basic overview and observation about the responses
First, an observation about the responses (something I would encourage people to have further reflections about): it was not always clear whether people responded based on what they as individuals believe the truth to be, or what they believe it is based on what they know and observe corporately. For others, it also seemed that their responses were what they felt this truth should be, but is perhaps not what it is.
Second, about the responses themselves: they seem to fit into 3 main themes. The first (and the one that received almost half of the responses) is along the lines of "There is that of God in everyone." The second was similar, except for a "continuing revelation/availability" component. For example, the Light of God is available to all, but there must be some seeking for it to be there. The third area was the Quaker Testimonies (mostly, Peace, Integrity, Community. The few "Equalities" I categorized with "there is that of God in everyone"). The last category, at this point, is more of a miscellaneous, very Christ-centered. I'm going to ask Faith to spend some time with me on these.
Each of these areas can be good for reflection. One thing Byron and I talked about, however, is that the first two themes ("There is that of God in all" or is available to all through continuing revelation) I think call on us Friends to look at how we engage with others. In both these cases, if we hold them as unequivocal truths, shouldn't we commit to engaging with all people - including FUM? In the first theme, if God is in all, it is there as well, and we won't see it if we disengage. In the second theme, continuing revelation means staying with things and seeing what unfolds. Of course, revelation is different than strategizing and planning - it takes that leap of faith, trusting that core truth.
As for the theme of the Testimonies, these present a different level of discussion. For example, if our core truth is Peace, what does that mean? We live in a violent world, so just saying "peace" accomplishes what?
My hope is that this starts a vibrant exploration among Friends: What is your individual core truth? What is the Truth of Friends? Are they the same? How can they be the same when the answers are so different? Can we find a "common denominator"?
More to come...