I agree with most of what you wrote, and I consider myself “Christian”. I was raised that way, I am ordained in a main line church(not currently practicing that part) and I am a full fledged practicing Quaker. I have had conversation with some “christians” who I got along with really well in business and everyday dealings. When they found out I was Quaker they suddenly had nothing to do with me. Even now Quakers can be seen as “other than christian” which would astound some of the founders of the movement. But my devotion to the Quaker faith is because of the absence of dogma and doctrine in it’s purest form. There is no one, no idea, no tenent, no rule that stands between me and God. If you need to affirm this read George Fox, John Woodman, Rufus Jones, et al. I am free to have that direct line that no one can disturb with their “noise” about going to hell, seeking to be “saved”, etc. You see it is my deepest feeling that what Jesus started has been hijacked and morphed into something he would not recognize nor approve of.
When I have been invited to church with some people I meet and I decline because I have a faith I usually explain that I do not attend any service that has a preacher or pastor, not that they are bad in all cases, I just do not need that interference. When I tell them I might come to listen to some good church music they are sort of flumoxed but then many Quaker Meetings are not known for their singing and I do love some rousing hymns. However, I digress, my point in writing to you is that the idea that I cling to so dearly in my faith is an old one, one of the founder’s, should I say principles, and that is that we, as Quakers, “look for that of God in everyone.” That to me is the key to peace and a true faith. I do not judge anyone, I find God in them. Sometimes it is difficult but I just keep looking, that is my job. I know it will not fix anything, it is no quick, dramatic solution as some preachers claim. But as they say about a lot of things “this is a marathon not a sprint”.
If I were so inclined I would apologize for what the hijackers have done to the Christian faith. I don’t know that I can do that as my Christian faith is radically different from their christian faith. Notice the distinction I make in spelling? I have no doubt that some of the christians who are in the world are sincere, maybe misguided, but sincere and well intentioned. Again, I try to seek that of God in all I meet. But I cannot and will not say a mea culpa for what others have wrought. All I can do is say — when I meet you I will treat you like I think Christ and God tell me I should, as a fellow human deserving of love and understanding regardless of your beliefs and some times because of your beliefs. I would more than likely never even let on to you that I have a “Christian” background or philopsophy as that is not important. What is important is the manner in which I treat you. That would be with kindness and respect. After all you have a reason to believe as you do, I have no right to tell you it’s wrong. Am I perfec(?)t, no, there is no doubt there. I am reminded at least hourly of my imperfections. Do I try to do “it” differently? You bet.