Pamphlet 08: ‘The Place of Universalism in the Society of Friends’, Dan Seeger, 1986

This is the text of a talk given in 1984 by a New York Friend. Seeger talks of journeys – of humankind and of individuals. He sees the world in some sort of crisis, created by our ‘spiritual lapses’. He refers to the journeys of notable individuals from whom we should learn: for example, Lao Tzu, Gotama, Jesus of Nazareth, St Francis of Assisi, George Fox, John Woolman and Thomas Merton.

He suggests that in the past Christians had little contact with other religions, except for missionary activity which was just ‘proselytizing evangelism’, or, worse, ‘on the battlefield’. Today we need to learn to respect each other.

He suggests that there is a problem with universalism which is that it can lead to ‘amiable broad-minded relativism’. You have to go into the depth of a religion from the inside to understand it properly and his answer is for the Christian to go deeply into true Christianity: in this praxis rather than theology one will discover the ‘Word of grace and truth’ which is common to all religions. Quakerism for Seeger should thus be ‘both Christian and universalist’.

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