I really enjoyed listening about the Quakers, as I’m sure the majority of the class did. Mostly because, I think, they are so different from what I’m used to associating with Christianity, especially those who practice the ‘unprogrammed’ version of services. Not just in difference in theology and doctrine, but in its form and belief system as a whole. I think maybe the most interesting part, to me, was the idea of it being an “experiential religion”; that there is this idea that what you experience, what you draw from a passage of Scripture is more important than someone else telling you what it means. So really, it’s all much more interpretive than the majority of Christian denominations.
I actually find this ‘unprogrammed’ way of services to be very similar to Eastern religions and to New Age ways of thinking, especially the expectant waiting and the idea of the “inner light”. From what I’ve gathered, I’m thinking this service was very much a liberal branch of Quakerism, which makes sense, because while it is similar to conservative branches of Quakerism, including those that practice programmed services, in that the reject the idea of the Eucharist and reject religious rituals and sacraments, more liberal branches of Quakerism tend to take this a few step further and denounce the idea of having services with prepared message at all. In fact, while they do refer to the Bible, if they feel like God has spoken to them in a way that goes against whatever they read in Scripture, the Scripture is supposed to give way to what they feel God has told them. It’s really a stark contrast to other branches of Quakerism, which can actually interpret scripture in a very evangelical fashion. Actually from what I’ve seen, the Quaker denomination is very much broad and spread out in its branches; they spread far and wide from being extremely liberal to being extremely conservative, and from seeing Scripture as the ultimate authority to seeing Scripture as a tool but not the final authority. Really, I think what was said in class about Quakerism to be ‘customizable’ in a way to be very accurate in many aspects.