“Interesting short post”:http://kwakersaur.blogspot.com/2005/01/jesus-language.html from Kwakersaur about the different ways Friends have related to God circa 1660, 1950 and today. A snippet
bq. [The first generation of Friends’] language lacked the me-an-Jesus kind of spirituality that marks the 1955 minutes and characterizes a lot of Christian spirituality of today. For early Quakers — and I suspect early Christians — it was not so much Jesus as a friendly affable fellow who loved us in a warm and comfy positive-strokes-I’m-OK-You’re-OK kinda way.
Here’s my own comment I left on Kwakersaur’s post:
I’ve noticed that Quakers have tended toward an ever-depersonalized expression of the divine. Our preferred word has gone from Christ to Jesus to God to Spirit to Light. Every transition has made the divine more theoretical and metaphorical. It’s kind of sad. I like reading random pages from an old Quaker text like Woolman’s “Journal” just to see how many evocative descriptions of God he can get into one page (“High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek,” wow I’ve missed that one!). Nowadays we limit our language more and more so as not to offend, but it seems like Friends once expanded their language in a related cause: not to get locked into an solitary set of labels for God.
I’ve been surprised over the years to find that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not being honest when I try to describe Quakerism without talking about Christ and the Seed. I can do it, but it’s become like translating: I’m thinking in traditional Quaker language but then substituting inoffensive words.
I notice that a lot of Friends do that. A year ago I noticed that the latest issue of my yearly meeting newsletter had “Christ” listed twice, “God” listed four times and “community” listed two dozen times (more or less). I know one of this issues contributors quite well and know him as a very grounded Friend so I asked him why his article had “community” six times and what he meant by it. He confessed that when he uses that word he’s substituting “Body of Christ.” But why? And how are we going to teach the next generation when we’re afraid to even use our language? Why are we keeping our vocabulary so secret? Why not just use the languages we have and trust that we’re being inclusive even when using the “C word?”