…”And Jesus Christ calls [Pergamum] the very throne of Satan. I believe this is actually the sign of the conflict between Revelation and civilization. Here Jesus is the bearer of the sword. There is no synthesis or reconciliation possible between Revelation and the great works of human civilization.
“Certainly this church is good in that it remains attached to the name of Jesus Christ, which is to say that it rejects the imperial cult… This church refuses to compromise in that which concerns the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless the church is judged severely because it tolerates false doctrines….As far as prostitution is concerned, that means either it is a matter of sacred prostitution or else that there is found here again the image common to the Old Testament according to which to go toward idols is a prostitution. In any case… the accent is then put upon doctrine and the way in which it is practiced. Works do not suffice nor faith (confessed in a formula.) An exact doctrine that permits having an exact practice is also necessary[!!!] … And we find ourselves confronted by the difficult duty of excluding from the church those who have a theology of compromise with the world (under its various aspects, all more or less religious.)
…”As far as the new name is concerned, engraved upon the white stone, it is not the name of the individual, nor the baptismal name, but very clearly the name of the Lord, known individually as truth. And we find the mystery of the transformation of the person: there is a new name upon the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. And nevertheless we know, obviously, the name of Jesus Christ! But are we certain of knowing who Jesus was? And then it is the name that each risen one receives; it is total communion with Jesus Christ. Then if the name is the expression of the spiritual being, do we know exactly who we will be when our heart of stone is replaced by a heart of flesh?…”
I know, while I count us all friends, we aren’t all Friends here. But I want to emphasize that this does have implications for the theory and practice of Quakerism. As Robert Griswold pointed out eloquently in his recent Pendle Hill Pamphlet, our movement is not supposed to be about doctrines, but about our experience of spiritual truth. But in (rightly) refusing to impose doctrines on one another, we have somehow lost our ability to proclaim the reality and primacy of the spiritual world.
How will this be worked out?