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10.06.2006

How I explain being "born again"

By Pp from Q 101

I used the peach pit because it is a nice big visible, and tactilely interesting seed - that and my peach tree was producing during our Q101 lessons.

The seed represents a (not The) Quaker view of human nature.

It has encoded within it everything it needs to know to become a peach tree. It cannot become and apple tree. There is nothing wrong with the seed in its dormant state. It is perfect, complete and everything it is supposed to be as a seed. Yet, it is not a producing peach tree - and it is in great need of external help to become that tree.This is a Quaker view of the human condition - NOT ruined, depraved or necessarily even fallen, but valuable and invested with life and a plan even in the simplest stages. This is the view of humanity that we see in the first chapter of John - life and light in everyone born, but still in need of Divine visitation and assistance.In addition to time, the seed needs at least two things to become a producing tree. The first is to be planted and watered, which will allow the see to be germinated and awaken. This awakening is programmed into the seed - the seed 'wants' to germinate, and yet it will not happen until the conditions are right. This can happen by fortuitously falling to the right place on the ground at the right time, or it can happen with the help of a tree grower who intentionally plants and waters the seed.This is the process that Jesus refers to when he speaks with Nicodemus in John chapter three. This is the 'second birth' that has become the clich├ęd 'born-again'. The truth that we see here is that there ARE two 'births' of the peach - the original pollination of the flower that produces the fruit that produces the seed, and the awakening of that seed in Germination. And both of those awakenings require some external help and influence.

But even the planted, watered and germinated seed is not a producing peach tree; and so we come to a critical idea about human spiritual health and growth. The climate must be conducive to growth. A peach tree planted on the windy high desert is unlikely to make much of a tree. A banana tree planted in the Willamette Valley will try and grow but is unlikely to make any bananas. Good seed and a well-intentioned orchardist will not produce peaches in the wrong climate. And again this is not within the control of the seed.In the natural world, without human intervention, the seed will only fall where a tree has grown to maturity, and so the chances are pretty good that the climate will be good for the seed of that tree. In the spiritual world, souls are planted everywhere, and spiritual climates are quite changeable. Jesus told a parable where the seed is scattered on the good ground and on the bad. This is how we find ourselves - good, wholesome souls, with an innate plan for health and productivity, in need of awakening, nourishment and a healthy spiritual climate in order to flourish.
Comments:
Hi Peggy! I really like this analogy of the seed, that it's whole and good in itself, but isn't going to produce other peaches by itself or just as a seed.

Since you mentioned the Inner Light thing...I was wondering if sometime you could speak to that. Where do we really get this in scripture? You used the prologue to John, but really that's talking about Jesus being the Light and Life to all people and it could be argued it just means he's available to all. Where do we get the notion that everyone has an "Inner Light"? I think it's correct, and I think it can be seen as an overarching theme in the Bible, but do you have any specific passages or themes in the Bible that you think point to the Inner Light particularly well?
 
Ooh, ooh, can I answer, please?

I've been looking at Ephesians a bit from time to time lately, and there's this passage:

"5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness... 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
'Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.'"

It's not literally "Inner Light" but every time I re-read it, it seems to me to be in harmony with Quaker understanding. As Brooklyn Quaker Rich posted a few months ago, the scriptural concept is not exactly how we unprogrammed Friends, at least, often construe it. How might evangelical Friends see it?

-- Chris M.
 
Thanks Chris! that is a cracker jack answer. Maybe not up to a Princeton pop quiz, but a good one.

I have had very little time for answering comments lately, although like all bloggers, they make my day.

I think the piece of the John prologue that I was thinking of was "The light that enlightens every human coming into the world" I suppose this could be an external enlightening, as in light shining upon. But I think of it as a lighting from within that makes each one of us glow.
 
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