Friday, February 11, 2011

Sharing the Good News in Spain

I became a Quaker just a few months ago, though I have been a Christian for many years. I am an affiliate member of Rockingham Monthly Meeting, which is part of Ohio Yearly Meeting. I deliberately chose to become a Conservative Quaker because I was certain that I wanted to belong to a distinctively Christian Quaker community. I did not want to have to avoid words such as Jesus, Christ, God, salvation, and so forth, when speaking to Friends. The choice to walk the Conservative path has its consequences, no doubt, and I am fully aware of the difficulties involved in this decision. As a Spaniard, these difficulties are related to the particularities of my country. Spain is a very complex society, due in part to its ancient, rich and multi-cultural history, as well as its present political and social situation.

There are very few Quakers in Spain. Since being a Christian means, in part at least, to be a witness for Christ, I have decided to share my Christian, and in particular my Quaker, faith with my fellow countrymen and countrywomen. I think that, just as both Christ and the Quakers' way of relating to Him have benefited me and improved my life, they can also benefit and improve the lives of many people.

Most of the Spanish people consider themselves to be Catholic, although they are not always practitioners, as people Photo by Luís Pizarrohere put it. Catholicism has a very rich tradition and usually their adherents feel quite happy to belong to its ranks. The Catholic Church has a singular feature that distinguishes it from other Christian Churches, namely, its belief in its uniqueness, in the sense that nobody outside of its fold can attain salvation (of course, many Catholic people have relaxed this rigid belief and have adopted a more open standpoint). I think this rigid belief makes unlikely for many Catholics to leave their Church. Of course, they do not have to abandon their church if they find a relationship with Christ there. However, I do hope to extend the possibility of another Christian way to those who want or need it, as I myself was in need before I encountered the Quaker path. I never felt comfortable inside the Catholic Church for a variety of reasons, and, although I belonged to an Evangelical church for a short time many years ago, I did not feel comfortable there, either.

In Quakerism, I have found my spiritual home, the place I have longed for all my life. And if this has been the case for me, I think it could be also the case for others. In this context, the effort to spread Quakerism in my country makes complete sense.

Besides the deeply rooted sense of being Catholic that most people have in Spain, there are also political and social factors, as I said before. Spain experienced a cruel civil war in the 1930s, and this war has left a mark on our national consciousness that has endured for the last sixty years. The war and its aftereffects have convinced many of my people to embrace a secular worldview; for many others, it has meant a total rejection of religion and, in particular, of Christianity.

Our project to create a Quaker Christian worship group in Seville, Spain, has emerged in this complex context. While I believe that Liberal Quakerism could certainly be successful in Spain, and in Europe in general, I am concerned that Europe presently suffers from an excess of Photo by Luís Pizarroliberalism. I have the strong conviction that Europe, and Spain in particular, needs a new evangelization, a return to its Christian foundations and values. Of course, many people could say that Europe does not need, in this post-modern age, a Christian way of thinking, worldview that revives old concepts such as God, salvation, heaven, and so forth. However, I am convinced that Europe does need Christian values such as compassion, friendship, care of the poor, love, and many others.

Conservative Quakerism has two clearly distinguishable, but inter-related, layers: One is its adherence to the Christian worldview: acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior and an embrace of the biblical narrative. The other layer consists of our testimony of integrity, simplicity, equality, peace, and so forth. It is quite probable that many in my country, and in Europe in general, might feel a strong attraction to these testimonies, but not to the Christian foundation of Quakerism.

To share our Quaker vision in a European country could be a real challenge. Does make sense to Photo by Luís Pizarrocreate worship groups where people are more interested in pacifism than in Christ, if they have any interest in Christ at all? I think that we Conservative Quakers must be honest: we must make it clear that Christ is the cornerstone and that everything else comes from Him. Is it not Christ who frees? Does not He bring peace and salvation?

In this secular age is more necessary than ever to hear afresh the good news of the gospel. You, North Americans, and we, Europeans, share a common heritage. Liberating Christian principles lie at the base of our western civilization. We have a profound and rich Christian heritage. Do not we have the right and even the duty to preserve it?

You, North Americans, still retain a sound dose of enthusiasm. We, in Europe, have lost a great part of it. We feel a bit tired. Many centuries have gone by and we are already a bit old. We invite you to inspire us and to give us new strength. Together we can offer our devastated world the good news that Christ is really present among us.

Luís PizarroLuis Pizarro was born in Mérida, an ancient city founded by the Roman Empire in 25 BC and located in southwestern Spain. He has lived in Seville for many years, where he serves as Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Seville. He has a passion for black and white photography. He is an affiliate member of Rockingham Monthly Meeting, Ohio Yearly Meeting. In his efforts to be a witness for Christ he publishes, an outreach site for Quakers in Spain.


  1. Well put...bien dicho...Amigo....any so-called "quakerism" which is NOT based on the Lordship of Jesus of Nazareth the Christ...the Source of all Truth and Light, and the Firm Foundation, our Teacher, is not a Quakerism that will be eternal or lasting. It will fail. Thy words are so needed today here and not stray from the Foundation, from the Eternal Savior and His Kingdom of Light. This was the message George Fox and others down through the generations witnessed to others. To try to build and sustain any faith community outside of His lordship is futile. It is time we speak to the Powers that be, even among those who call and count themselves among us, this Truth.

  2. PS...we estadounidenses yes age in some ways blessed, although far from perfect, and not a nation that has always done what was Right and True and Just, yet among our earliest settlers were many people who placed God as they worshipped Him and His Son Jesus first...even if at times in ways that were not always enlightened. Many of us here are descendants of people of great faith, people who broke away from oppression and religious intolerance...and came here to seek a new many have left that heritage, but still God works through this heritage and among many areas of life, yes, we are a country that has many people (imperfect as we are) of strong faith.

  3. Gracias, amigo, por tu ensayo tan bien escrito y de corazón. La última vez que mi esposo y yo estuvimos en España buscamos el grupo cuáquero en Madrid sin éxito. Me alegro de que haya la posibilidad de cononcer un español cuáquero y cristiano. Espero que podamos ponernos en contacto.
    -Beth Green-Nagle

  4. Hola Luis,
    I too am a Conservative Friend, an affiliate member of Winona Monthly Meeting, OYM, living near Portalegre, Portugal. I hope we can meet one day.

    Ken Schroeder

  5. Hi Luis,
    I'm a conservative Friend in the UK, belonging to The Ripley Quaker Group, a group of conservative Friends, and an affiliate of Rockingham Meeting. If there is anything that we in the UK can do to help thy work of proclaiming the Gospel in Spain, please let us know.
    Thy Friend,
    Allistair Lomax

  6. Dear Ken,
    I am very glad to hear from you. I also hope we can meet one day. In any case, please be in touch using email or Facebook.

  7. I am a quaker living in Spain, a member of France Yearly Meeting. Most of my adult life I lived in Paris, France. It was here that I first explored whether or not I was a quaker, having listened to a programme on BBC telling about quakers.
    The following is the address of the website for the memoir of my life:

  8. Pues sinceramente, creo que una de las grandes diferencias entre la iglesia catolica y las protestantes es que los catolicos piensan que se puede alcanzar el reino de los cielos sin conocer a Cristo y los protestantes no. Olvidemonos de lo que puede pensar una persona sin formación religiosa y sin conocimiento de su religión.

    Durante los dos años que pase en George Fox University en Newberg, Oregon, lo que mas me alucino sobre el tema, poniendo un ejemplo, es que la gente (no solo quakers) opinasen que Gandhi estaba ardiendo en el infierno por no conocer a Cristo (ojo, decian que incluso sin haber tenido la oportunidad de conocerlo era lo mismo), que reconocian que habia sido un hombre bueno pero al infierno de cabeza por no cristiano... los catolicos no piensan eso...

    "I am convinced that Europe does need Christian values such as compassion, friendship, care of the poor, love, and many others." La iglesia catolica (y me imagino que todas las religiones cristianas o no) ofrecen eso, otra cosa es que los practicantes (o no) lo sigan, pero ofrecerse, se ofrece.

    Estoy con usted en que aqui la gente es Catolica porque no se ha molestado en ver otra posibilidad, es como ser del Celta, soy de Vigo, mi padre es Celtista, yo del Celta...

    En fin, me interesa mucho el tema de los Amigos, como observador, y desde luego me ha encantado ver que hay alguien en España que lo es...

    Saludos cordiales,

  9. cuaqueros-org is closed. Thou can find us in Igor Salazar, JD. I born in Gasteiz, Basque Country