What is an Evangelical Friend?
What is an Evangelical Friend?
The Friends Church began with the conversion of one man, George Fox, in the year 1647. His personal experience of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ alone sparked a great revival in England. Those early Friends made great contributions in the areas of social reform, spiritual renewal, religious liberty, prison reform, education, care for the suffering and integrity of life and word.
Before long, many Friends (also called Quakers) came to the new world. The state of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, a Friend, with the determination to allow freedom to practice Christianity according to the dictates of your beliefs and conscience. Pennsylvania was the only colony which had no need of a standing militia, since they treated the Indians as equals, honoring their verbal agreements.
As Americans moved west, so did the Friends; establishing Yearly Meetings all the way to the Northwest. Oregon Yearly Meeting was established in 1893 and in 1971 the name was changed to Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM), to reflect the inclusion of Meetings (churches) in Washington and Idaho. NWYM is headquartered in Newberg, Oregon and participates in a larger group of Friends worldwide, Evangelical Friends International--North America (EFI-NA).
Evangelical Friends are so called because they believe in the authority of the Bible and in the historical aspects of the doctrine of salvation. Non-evangelical Friends emphasize the individual conscience and the inward practices of a mystical Christianity.
About Our Heritage
WHERE DID WE COME FROM?
I guess I might as well tell you up front ?? this is a "Quaker" church. Now, please don't let that bother you. The truth of the matter is that "Quaker" is a pretty good word. But for now just try to remember that Quakers aren't like the rosy?cheeked character on the Quaker Oats box.
Let's start at the beginning. Actually, the Friends Church was begun a little over three hundred-fifty years ago (1647 to be exact). George Fox, the founder, went to church with his devout Anglican parents until he was nineteen. Then he began to feel that there's got to be more to religion (meaning Christianity) than this. George Fox spent the next four years trekking all over England going from church to church and preacher to priest looking for an answer to his questions.
At that time the official church of the land, the Church of England, carried on its worship with elaborate ritual and ceremony in stately cathedrals. Another group, the Puritans, (so?called because they wanted to "purify" the Church of England) stressed the judgment and wrath of God. Neither of these alternatives satisfied many of the common people. They had been reading the newly published King James Bible and knew that vital religion (Christianity) was possible.
Into this situation came young George Fox, a weaver's son, searching for inward peace and a group of people that consistently practiced the Christian faith. He knew the Scripture so well that a Dutch historian would later observe that if somehow all of the Bibles in the world came to be destroyed, it could have been reproduced from memory by George Fox.
Anyway, George Fox kept on moving around the English countryside and one day the lights turned on for him (he said he heard a voice). He realized (or heard) this basic truth: "there is One, even Jesus Christ, who can speak to thy condition." Wow! There it was: the answer that satisfied him, the answer that finally got to the heart of things.
This experience led him to four basic conclusions. First, he realized that Christ is a present reality, not just a good man who lived a long time ago and said some good things. In addition to being risen and seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Ephesians 1:20), Christ lives here in the present moment and can communicate with and give guidance and power to those who open their hearts to Him. After all, he told His followers, "...I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)
Second, George saw that a Christian is not necessarily someone who has his/her name on a church membership list or who has done something religious. The mark of an authentic Christian is a changed life. A Christian is someone who has been transformed from death to life in a first?hand encounter with Christ. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4)
Third, it became clear to him that the Church is not a building at the corner of Old Olympic Highway and North Barr Rd. nor at any other site. Neither could it be identified with ecclesiastical (that means "church") hierarchy or with an institution established by the state. The church is the fellowship of people who have had their lives changed by Christ and in whose hearts Christ lives and reigns (Ephesians 3:10-12; Romans 10:9-13; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 5:1-21).
Fourth, George understood that a minister is one who serves and who makes Christ real to others by means of living a Christlike life before them. All of the academic degrees and learning in the world cannot make a true minister of Christ. It is Christ's call which makes someone a minister (1 Timothy 1:1; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:1,6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
This became the central message of Friends??and still is. That's the good news for people who are turned off by the rules and rituals of religion. And George Fox began to tell everybody about the phenomenal discovery. Actually, this is not a new truth. The Bible had long since stated, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name [than Jesus Christ] under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). But George Fox began to take the Biblical teaching about the adequacy of Christ more literally and seriously than most people did.
Within a few short years there were thousands of persons throughout England who had found Christ as a living presence in their lives even as George Fox had. They became "finders" and worshiping groups of them took the name "Friends" from John 15:15 where Jesus told his followers, "I have called you friends for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." Those who opposed the awakening that Friends were bringing to the Church called them "Quakers" in derision because when some of them spoke in a moving way they sometimes trembled in the power of the Lord. Friends felt that this was actually a compliment and eventually did not hesitate to use the name themselves.
For fifty years George Fox and his followers crisscrossed Europe and America with this simple and fresh message that Jesus Christ was the answer to everybody's problem. Thousands of people who were tired of formal religion without much life became part of the Friends movement.
Then in the early 1700's something happened that was just about the undoing of the whole thing. The next generation of Quakers began to say things that should never have been said, "Let's major on the minors." There were certain things that Friends did that many other Protestants did not do and those things took on way too much importance. For example, George Fox would sometimes spend an hour in silent prayer and then he would preach for two or three hours. These second generation Quakers opted to forget the sermon and concentrated on silent prayer. That's where the whole idea of Quakers sitting in silence got started.
Once the message of Christ was diluted many Quakers turned inward and the dynamic of the Friends movement died. Many of the stereotypes people have of Quakers comes from this period. One historian stated that Friends "settled down into a peaceable, respectful sect proud of their past and content to preserve their distinctive. Pleasure, music and art were taboo; dress was painfully plain and speech was Biblical...They gained few new converts and lost many old members." They continued however to be very active in social ministries such as feeding the poor, ministering in the men's and women's prisons, caring for orphans etc.
It wasn't until the early 1800's when Joseph John Gurney began calling Friends back to the authority of the Bible as God's Word that Friends realized that social action apart from the goal of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ was useless. He recognized that we need an objective source to determine whether the Holy Spirit is leading us, or whether we are following our own inclinations. It was this kind of teaching that led to the birth of the Evangelical Friends.
Friends had a profound affect on the course of American history. The first Quaker missionaries arrived on America's shored in 1656, one hundred and twenty years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Mary Fisher and Ann Austin landed at Boston where the Puritan authorities had them seized and kept under close guard. A hundred of their books were burned in the marketplace and they were dispatched to Barbados on the next departing ship. Their bedding and even their Bibles were confiscated to pay the jailer's fee. The Pilgrim Fathers wanted religious freedom for themselves but offered it to no one else.
Friends were welcomed in Rhode Island which was founded as a haven from the intolerance of Puritan Massachusetts. So overwhelming was the response there that at one time half of the populations were Friends, and the colony elected Quaker governors for thirty?six consecutive terms??more than a century. Friends were also well received in Maryland. Lord Baltimore established the colony as a refuge for persecuted English Catholics and was willing to give liberty of conscience to others in religious matters. Spokespersons for the Quaker faith made some deep inroads into Virginia as well.
In 1657, a boatload of Quaker missionaries from England landed on Long Island. One of them, Robert Hodgson, drew large crowds to his meetings. He was arrested, imprisoned, flogged and treated very severely. At last some of the Dutch colonists interceded on his behalf and secured his unconditional release. Many continued to respond to the Friends message in spite of a firm edict issued against it by Governor Peter Stuyvesant. Finally on December 27, 1657, the citizens of Flushing drew up a magnificently worded protest reminding their Governor that their charter allowed them "to have and enjoy Liberty of Conscience according to the Custom and manner of Holland, without molestation or disturbance." This came to be known as the Flushing Remonstrance. It was the first time that a group of settlers in the New World petitioned the government for religious freedom. It was commemorated in a United States postage stamp issued three hundred years later.
Meanwhile the persecution of Friends in Puritan Massachusetts grew more intense. Friends were lashed behind carts and whipped from town to town. They were branded with a "H" for heretic; they had their tongues bored through with a hot iron; their ears were cut off; they were banished. Finally Governor John Endicott succeeded in having the death penalty invoked for any Friends who returned to the colony after being banished beyond its borders. Four Quakers were hung on Boston Common??William Robinson, Marmaduke Stephenson, William Leddra and Mary Dyer. She was the first woman to suffer death on these shores for her religious convictions. Today a statue of her stands on Boston Common, a reminder to all that our religious freedom was bought at a precious price.
In 1671, George Fox along with twelve others came to America and trekked up and down the Atlantic Seaboard. In 1672, he and a William Edmondson, who had already preached successfully in Ireland, became the first preachers who ever held any kind of Christian worship within the borders of the Carolinas. Later, John Archdale would become the Quaker Governor of the Carolinas and one?half of the representatives of the legislature were Friends.
The outbreak of persecution of Friends back in England again led seventeen Quakers to purchase East Jersey to serve as a refuge where Friends could practice their faith without interference. Robert Barclay, the brilliant young Scottish Quaker theologian, served as Governor of the colony for a time.
Then, in 1681, William Penn accepted the grant of land which became Pennsylvania as the payment of a debt which King Charles II owed his father. The Duke of York, who later became King James II, threw in the territory of Delaware in on the deal. Penn landed in his colony on the good ship Welcome in 1682. He met with the Indians under the great elm at Shackamason, the ancient meeting place of the tribes and befriended them. He purchased land from them at a fair price and concluded a treaty with them that was agreeable to all. A century later the humanistic French philosopher, Voltaire, would observe that his (William Penn) was the only treaty ever made between white men and the Indians that was never sworn to and never broken.
In his carefully worded Frame of Government for the Pennsylvania territory, Penn gave the citizens both liberty and responsibility. He designed a government dedicated to religious freedom, to equality and peace. He laid out Philadelphia as the first planned city in the New World. Pennsylvania was Penn's "Holy Experiment," his attempt to apply the Christian principles held by Friends to the practical business of government. The guidelines of the Frame of Government gave the citizens the freedom to develop to the fullest of their potential and they and the colony prospered. For decades Pennsylvania stood as a model to the world of democracy, liberty and harmony.
When the Founding Fathers met in the latter part of the 1700's to write the Constitution that would design the government of the United States, they turned to William Penn's Frame of Government for Pennsylvania. If they had turned to Puritan New England for their model there would have been an established state church. If they had turned to aristocratic Virginia for their model there would have been a privileged class. Most of the rights and freedoms that we take for granted as a part of our way of life in America today were originally set forth in Penn's Charter of Liberties for his colony. Friends were the original architects of the free society that we enjoy.
SOME NOT VERY IMPORTANT BUT INTERESTING TIDBITS
Friends have tried to apply their faith to every aspect of their lives. This has often led them to become social pioneers and to come up with discoveries in a variety of fields.
When Friends came on the scene in the England of the mid?1600's it was the common practice to bargain for goods in the shops. The potential buyer would name a price far below that he expected to pay for the item. The shopkeeper would state a price far above what he anticipated receiving. From then on it would be a battle of wits to see who could get the best of whom. Friends felt that this practice was not Christian in the sense that it made people try to cheat one another. Quaker shopkeepers began to put what they believed were fair prices on all of the items in their stores and would not budge a bit on downward or upward side. At first people avoided the Quaker shops like the plague. After all, what fun was it to go shopping if you could not try to outwit the shopkeeper? Later, people came to realize that they could send even their six?year?old child on an errand to a Quaker store and he or she would be treated just as fairly and charged the same price as any adult. As this awareness grew the Quaker shopkeepers got much more than their share of the business. Eventually other establishments began to follow the Quaker way.
Shortly before 1743, a young Quaker clerk in a store in Mount Holly, New Jersey, was asked by his employer to draw up a bill of sale for a slave for whom he had found a buyer. Since the request was sudden the young man complied. As he executed the transaction he did manage to stammer that he believed that the keeping of slaves was inconsistent with the Christian religion. Gradually he came to see that he must devote the rest of his life to convincing his fellow Quakers that slaveholding was an evil practice. In those days a great number of Friends families in both the North and the South owned slaves just like their neighbors. In 1746 John Woolman undertook his first long journey into Pennsylvania and the South and quietly tried to persuade the heads of households with whom he was staying that they were hurting themselves and their families by keeping slaves. He did not argue. He only shared the insights that he had been given in a gentle and loving way. He was as concerned for the well being of the slaveholder as he was for the well being of the slaves.
In the next twenty? five years he traveled up and down the East Coast from New England to the Carolinas in the Pursuit of his mission. Within a few years after his death in 1772 all Friends in America had freed their slaves. They were the first Christian group on these shores to do so.
In the latter 1700's it was still the practice in England to keep mental patients locked and chained in institutions where they were treated like criminals, laughed at, humiliated and brutally punished for variant behavior. William and Esther Tuke, Friends living in York, began to be convinced that the mentally ill might make substantial progress if they were looked after in a loving way. In 1796 William Tuke opened "The Retreat" in York, the first institution in the world devoted to compassionate care for the mentally disturbed.
In 1817, Elizabeth Gurney Fry, a Friends minister and the wife of a banker, walked alone into the woman's quarters of Newgate Prison in London. Surrounded by the most jaded, bitter and dangerous women prisoners, she picked up one of their children and all became quiet. She suggested that they might start a school for the children who were in prison with them, serving as teachers themselves. They discussed the idea for awhile. She told them a Bible story, prayed with them and then left. Soon the women were clamoring to be taught to read and sew. They began to meet daily in a work room under the direction of monitors of their own choice. The days began and ended with Bible readings sometimes given by Elizabeth Fry herself. As time progressed even those who had shown almost every sign of depravity were transformed into industrious, contributing members of an orderly community. Elizabeth Fry came to be recognized throughout the world as the pioneer of prison reform.
In the summer of 1840 Lucretia Mott was excluded from the anti?slavery Convention in London because she was a woman. In 1848 she joined with a few other women in calling the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York.
In England, the Quaker Rowntree and Cadbury families ventured into the chocolate and cocoa business because they saw hot chocolate as a possible alternative to alcoholic beverages. In Philadelphia, a Quaker grocer name Joseph Hires developed a concoction he came to call "Root Beer" in the hope that his employees and others might come to drink it instead of alcohol. Another, named Graham, set out to produce a nutritious and hardy bread which could be used to feed orphans and homeless people. His concoction is still popular today, the Graham Cracker.
In 1768, a Quaker doctor, Thomas Dimsdale, was invited to Russia by Empress Catherine II to introduce vaccination against smallpox. Another Quaker doctor, Joseph Lister, is regarded as the father of antiseptic surgery. Today a widely used product in the United States bears his last name.
One could go on and on citing examples of the applied faith of Friends have always endeavored to further Christ's Kingdom in the face of the challenges of their day.
WHAT DO WE BELIEVE
So much for history. Let's take a look at what we believe. [A more detailed statement can be found in our doctrinal statement-What We Believe.] Within the membership of Peninsula Evangelical Friends Church is an exciting variety of religious backgrounds. Though there are many areas where we allow great freedom to differ theologically, there are some things that are so important that we believe you must accept them if you are going to call yourself a Christian.
First, the Bible is the written revelation of God's truth that teaches us all we need to know about God's dealings in the affairs of humanity. Christ is what we call the Living Word and by the Holy Spirit he makes the written word (the Bible) alive in us and real to us. The Bible is inspired by the Spirit of God and therefore is the only accurate record of God's activity in history and the only entirely dependable guide for showing us the basis of salvation and the principles and practices of living a Godly life.
By it's own declaration, God, by "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness....Through [which] he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:3,4). Though Peter was an eyewitness of God's glory revealed in Jesus he declared that he had "the word of the prophets made more certain..." (2 Peter 1:19). The Greek language literally says "we have the word of the prophets more sure", or in the vernacular, which can be trusted more completely than my senses and memory.
We believe that in the Bible, God has given us everything we need for every area of our daily lives. "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16,17). It is out of this conviction that we "Preach the Word [being prepared to] correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will [has] come when men will not put up with sound doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:2,3). We have a hunger and desire to "preach the word" faithfully. We take great pains to test all we do by the Word of God, and to teach our people to measure their lives by the "plumb line" (Amos 7) of God's Word rather than by other people.
We believe that God, through His Word, gives us the weapons which are filled with "divine power to demolish strongholds [and] arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4,5). Our hearts, subjectively oriented, are able to deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, we need an objective, unmoving and unmovable standard by which we can measure our lives. This standard is God's Written Word. Though there is much more to say concerning this, we must continue on.
Second, the center of life must be Jesus Christ and life finds meaning only in our relationship to Him. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to show us what God is like. He was both human and divine. "I and the Father are one"(John 10:30). "He who has seen me has seen the Father"(John 14:4). "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" (John 1:1) "He [the Word] became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Jesus Christ, therefore, is the only One who provides any unique revelation of God.
We believe there is no other way by which a person can be saved than by Jesus Christ. Any road that leads one to any other Christ than the man Jesus Christ who is our only mediator between us and God, the Father, (John 6:29; 1 Timothy 2:5,6), is a false road and must be rejected as such (John 6:33,35; 10:11,14,27-30: 11:25; 14:6; Matthew 7:13,14).
Actually, the only resource we have for our belief in Christ is the best documented story in all of history and we tell that story again and again because that is the most important thing we can do. He is the only human to be born of a virgin. He lived in our kind of world being tempted as we are, yet he was without sin, and claimed to present accurately and authentically the character of God. He healed people, forgave sins, died and rose from the dead three days later and appeared again to people whose lives were subsequently revolutionized. After 40 days He ascended to the right hand of the Father to be the only intercessor between mankind and God the Father. He will return again to judge the living and the dead. All of this we believe in accordance with the scriptures. The truth of the matter is that the story of Christ is not yet finished because he meets with us now (Revelation 3:20). Remember George Fox's discovery, "There is One who can speak to your condition, even Jesus Christ."
Third, our salvation is by faith in Christ. The death and resurrection of Christ were for our benefit. When we die, the reason we expect to go to heaven is not because of anything we have done, but because of what he did (Isaiah 43:11; Acts 16:30,31; Romans 5:6-8, 16-19; 10:9-13). Faith is our acceptance of his death and resurrection as being adequate for us. The only alternative is to try to be nice and people do not become Christians and get to heaven by being nice. Rather, they become proud; and "God opposes the proud..." (James 4:6). They become Christians by asking Jesus Christ to come into their hearts and to live His life in them. When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun (II Corinthians 5:17).
The point of all we believe is this: Jesus is God, the One who created everything (John 1:1-3). We believe that Jesus died on earth because he loved you (John 3:16-21; Romans 5:6-8) and was willing to pay the price God had set as a penalty for trying to do things our own way; the shedding of blood to the point of death (Hebrews 9:11-28). He wants you to be friends with God (John 15:12-17). We believe that Jesus is still alive (Ephesians 1:18-23), and can forgive you of your rebellion and sin against Him and give you a whole new life??that he wants to be a part of your everyday existence by living in you, guiding you and energizing you (John 9:31,32; 14:19; 15:1-7; Romans 8; Ephesians 1:19; 2:4-10; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 2:9,10; James 4:10; 1 Peter 1:17,25). You may have done some good things??but unless you believe what Jesus Christ said and accept what he offers, you're not a Christian, and whether you feel like it or not, you are in rebellion against the only one who can save you from an eternity of separation from God (Matthew 7:21-23; 25:31-46; Luke 6:46).
We believe that the church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 2:19-22) and that entrance into the church comes only by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (John 1:33; 14:16,17; 16:15; Acts 11:16; Ephesians 4:4-6). The Holy Spirit is God's gift of His own presence to each and every person who calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14-17; Acts 1:5-8).
The above statements are central to, and form the basis for, all our beliefs. To boil it all down into a few words, you could say something like this. "Out of nothing, God created all that exists in one week of seven solar days. Man[kind] (male and female), was God's crowning achievement and was intended to rule over the earth in fellowship with and submission to God. The first man, Adam, chose to reject God's command, bringing death and decay into all the world. The Old Testament is the record of God's promise to bring salvation to the world through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. The New Testament records the fulfillment of God's offer of salvation by recording all we need to know about the birth, life, death, burial and resurrection of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation comes from God alone, through Jesus Christ alone, and brings with it abundant life and freedom to those who believe His Word and obey His commands. Jesus will physically return to the earth to judge the nations and both the living and the dead in order to reward those who obey Him with eternal life, and to punish those who reject him with everlasting punishment in the lake of fire which was prepared for Satan and his angels. Jesus Christ will then create a new heaven and earth, setting up a kingdom where he will rule from the throne of his servant David throughout all eternity.
We hope that this brief (though it seems quite lengthy) synopsis of who "Friends" are and what we believe will be helpful to you as you consider where God would have you to "plug into the body". Our commitment to you will be to faithfully teach and preach the Word of God and to make every effort to equip you to do the works of ministry which He has prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10; 4:11-14).
As you consider which congregation of God's church you will serve in, we encourage you to prayerfully prepare to make a lifelong commitment to that congregation. We encourage you to prepare to stand fast for God's Word in that congregation. Seeing that people who periodically move from one congregation to another, though still living in the same place, hinders the work God wants to do in that area, we pray that you will be able to quickly settle into God's appointed place for you, and that your ministry in that place will grow in such a way that no man can say this has been done by man's hands.
May God be glorified in all that you say and do as you seek to find His ways, to obey His commands, and to make His ways known in all you say and do.