Tim White and Philip Cox
Dear Group Leader,
First off, thank you for choosing to use this curriculum. Our desire is that people at Friends churches will come to know, be inspired by, and embrace their Friends heritage. By choosing to discuss this topic in your small group, you are creating a space where that can happen! We hope that this curriculum will help.
There are two types of resources provided in the curriculum: things intended for the general participants and things intended for you, the group leader. By volume, there is a lot more material intended for you to use than we intend for you to hand out. This is because we value the personal interaction between people who are present to discuss Friends heritage. Friends heritage should be taught within the context of ongoing relationships whenever possible. Our hope is that you as the group leader will feel fully equipped to guide the participants through the slideshow, experience, and handout each week. To that end we have not only provided you with those materials but also with the short videos accessible on our website, friendsheritage.com. We have provided the speaker's notes, which give brief, bulleted reminders of the main points on each slide of the slideshow. And we have provided this booklet. This booklet is designed to give you a more in-depth knowledge base from which you can draw when you lead the discussion or answer questions. Our hope is that you would study the chapter from this booklet the week before you present the slideshow to your small group. You can feel free to alter the slideshow and speakers notes (or anything else) as you prepare for the discussion. You know your group and should tailor the experience to them.
While this curriculum mostly focuses on the Friends work of the past, Friends have not stopped working. We are excited to see the continuing passion for the Kingdom of God among the movement of people called Quakers!
Please feel free to contact me with questions about this curriculum.
Chapter One: The Quaker Place in History
Early Quakers were not “politically correct.” In fact, they were the opposite: a blunt, plain-speaking people trying to love others without giving an inch from their testimony to the Truth. For example, in English the names if the days of the week are derived from Norse gods; our names for the months of the year are derived from Roman gods (except for August, which is named after Augustus Caesar). One result of the early Friends’ desire to follow their best understanding of Scripture without exception was their rejection of the influence of these pagan gods on their culture. Instead of implicitly acknowledging the influence of these gods on their lives, they called all days of the week and months of the year by number. You will notice in this slide that we are doing the same thing. Thus, make sure the slideshow is changed to reflect your name, as well as the correct numbered date (for example, if the group is meeting on Sunday, the ninth of August, it is the first day of the second week of the eighth month).
There will be three objectives associated with each chapter. The first is to convey information about unique elements of the Quaker tradition, both historically and currently. The second is to corporately experience a Quaker tradition. Group leaders should feel free to alter the experience to the needs of the group. For example, in this chapter, we will experience an unprogrammed worship service. Small groups from some churches may already be comfortable with this. However, at other churches, unprogrammed worship may be uncomfortable. For those groups, we have created instructions for a “staged” experience which can be downloaded from the website to help the group leader bring the participants into the spirit of the experience. The “experience slides” have an icon in the top right corner to alert the group leader that it is time for the experiential portion of the lesson. Lastly, at the end of the session, there will be a handout for participants to take home and contemplate further.
Chapter Two of this curriculum will cover influential Friends throughout history. We call them Quaker Aristocrats, which is a bit of a play on words. While there were members of the English aristocracy that became Quakers in the seventeenth century (most notably Robert Barclay, William Penn, and Isaac Pennington), it is also a misnomer because early Friends generally rejected distinctions between classes. Furthermore, Friends went to great lengths to reject vanity either through clothing that attracted attention to an individual or social customs that elevated one person over another. They saw these “vain and empty customs” as drawing glory away from God and giving it to unworthy people. Nevertheless, history has a number of examples of Quakers who were famous and influential.
Chapter Three will give historical context to the theological distinctions of the early Friends movement. It will touch on the concepts of the Inward Light (and the correlated term, Inner Light), as well as offer a discussion on the Friends view of women in ministry. Lastly, there are two optional slides on an early Friends view of atonement.
Chapter Four will touch on the Friends’ influence on the abolition movement in the United States and around the world. It will go into more depth about the Underground Railroad and the Friends’ influence on slavery leading up to the Civil War. Then there are optional sections to cover the Friends influence on immigration through settlement houses; relief work around the world, especially in the early twentieth century; and work throughout the existence of the Friends movement to advocate for the rights of Native Americans.
Chapter Five will cover one of the most significant objections that people often have of Friends: that we do not practice the sacraments. It will address misconceptions about the Friends’ views and explain the historical positions that Friends have taken concerning sacraments. It will go into more depth with respect to the two most common Protestant sacraments: baptism and communion.
Quakers were extraordinarily influential at the beginning of our nation. Some of their influence is still felt today. For example, the Quaker Oats Man is a marketing ploy first used by non-Quaker businessmen in the late 1800s as a way of conveying the honesty and quality of their product. For more than 40 years, Quaker Oats used the image of William Penn as their spokesperson, though throughout the twentieth century the portrait has morphed to be a more generic image of a Quaker.
The painting in the top right corner is called “None Shall Make Them Afraid,” and was painted by J. Doyle Penrose, an Irish Quaker in 1918. Some art history students may remember Penrose as the very late romantic painter who reinterpreted legends of Norse mythology in the style of his predecessors. Late in his life, with the Easter Rebellion in Ireland and World War I on the mainland, he shifted his style with two paintings that emphasized his Friends heritage, a topic he had completely ignored throughout the height of his career as an artist. In addition to this painting, he painted “Presence in the Midst” in 1916. “None Shall Make Them Afraid” was commemorating an event from the summer of 1777 when Native Americans in New York planned to massacre a Quaker meeting, but found the Friends unarmed and welcoming. Their raiding party turned into an impromptu worship service instead.
The image in the bottom left is, of course, Quaker State Motor Oil. The Quaker State name was another marketing ploy designed to capitalize on the honesty and quality for which Quakers were known. The Company has no real ties to Quaker tradition, however. The only real connection is that the Texas-based company sponsored a NASCAR race in Pennsylvania, the state which was named for William Penn and began as a Quaker colony.
Can you identify the Quaker on this slide? Most people associate Quakers with a sect, like the Amish people in this wagon. Ben Franklin was thought to be a Quaker. While he did live in Philadelphia and had many Quaker friends and associates, he was actually a Deist. There have, however, been two Quaker presidents. Herbert Hoover was the first Quaker president and had a tremendous role in relief efforts in Europe after WWI, which led to his involvement in politics. While his political career was rather short for a politician, his career in development was significant and continued after his presidency and through World War II. Richard Nixon was raised in Southern California as a Quaker and went to Whittier College, which, at that time, was a Quaker school (Hoover also attended a Quaker school now known as George Fox University but eventually transferred and finished his degree at Stanford University).
George Fox was arguably the most influential of the early Friends leaders and is often considered to be the founder of the Friends movement. His start in England is well documented and so is the type of worship meetings and settings you see in the photo (top right). Betsy Ross was also a Quaker but was expelled from her meeting either for eloping with a Methodist or for supporting the revolutionary war (details on Ross’ life are a bit sketchy). A significant number of early American colonists were Friends, and the movement has had a huge influence on the country (especially in the colonies of Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas).
The Inward Light, or the Light of Christ, were terms often used by early Friends to explain the way that God is reaching out to have relationship with all people. The “inner light” is a related term that is often misunderstood. These will both be discussed at length in Chapter Three. William Penn and other Quakers did work among Native Americans. For example, Penn began the tradition by requiring that Native Americans be paid fairly for their land and never pushed off land they wished to use. Other Friends have continued the tradition of advocating for the rights of Native Americans to this day. Also, Quakers have had a significant influence on the movement for women’s rights. This began in the early days of the movement when they supported the right of women to participate in every level of ministry.
The origins of the names that are used for the Friends movement are somewhat mysterious. The earliest name for a member of the movement was probably “Friend.” Fox records himself using the term in excerpts of letters that he claims are from early 1650 (though they were not published until much later). There are also examples of stories from the late 1640s that use the term to identify people, though it is unclear whether they would have used the term at the time of the events being recorded. The term originally appears simply as “Friends,” but by the late 1650s it was also commonplace for Friends to specify that they were in fact, “Friends of Christ,” or “Friends of Truth,” or “Friends of the Lord,” all of which would have been considered synonyms. It seems, then, that “Friends” is undoubtedly the earliest term that Quakers used for themselves.
The first recorded use of the term “Quaker” to refer to Friends was also in 1650. There are various accounts of how this term came to be used. Fox records that the name was used first as an insult after he called Judge Bennet to “tremble at the word of the Lord.” Robert Barclay points to some slightly more charismatic origins. He writes that people in meetings would tremble as the power of God overcame the power of evil warring in them. Some other reports exist of people being called Quakers even before these. In every case, the name Quaker was intended to be an offensive slur but was appropriated by the Quakers themselves.
The names for the church, as a movement, are also mysterious. It seems that the earliest way people identified themselves was simply as a participant in their “meeting.” Consequently, perhaps the earliest terms for the group might be London or Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. However, using “The People Called Quakers” was the most common early way of identifying with the movement. For example, Barclay’s Apology includes in the original title that it is an apology for the beliefs of “The People Called Quakers.” This term was used to describe the movement long before the name “Religious Society of Friends” was formalized in the nineteenth century. Still, for nearly the last two hundred years, “The Religious Society of Friends” has been the most common way of identifying the movement.
Most Friends around the world today use the terms “Friend” and “Quaker” synonymously, and the terms are used as synonyms in this curriculum. However, some parts of the world do differentiate between the two with “Friends” used to refer to theological orthodox Christians and “Quakers” used to refer to theological liberals and Hicksites.
Most people mark 1647 as the year that the Friends movement began because it was the first year of the public ministry of George Fox. Since Fox began preaching before the signing of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and the end of the Thirty Years War in continental Europe, many scholars consider the Friends movement to be a part of the Protestant Reformation. In many ways this is appropriate, as the most of the historical events and cultural shifts that shaped the social landscape of the English Midlands, and really the whole Western world, were shared with other reformation movements in Europe. Furthermore, there is a very real sense in which Friends Faith and Practice is Protestantism taken to its logical conclusion.
However, it may also be appropriate to see the early Friends movement as a reaction against Reformation Protestantism. After all, by the time Friends entered the European religious landscape, the Church of England, Calvinism, and Lutheranism had already existed for more than a hundred years and were each social and political establishments in their own rights. Even Puritans and Baptists had relatively stable movements by the time Fox began preaching. Friends defined their Faith and Practice as growing out of and being distinct from these Protestant groups, rather than out of the Catholic Church (though they did reject multiple opportunities to unify with Catholics on theological grounds). Furthermore, the early Friends movement was much more significantly influenced by the First and Second English Civil Wars than it was by the great Thirty Years War on the continent. This is significant in that the Civil Wars were fought between different Protestant groups, each desiring to control the English government. The Thirty Years War was between Catholics and Protestants, each desiring the right to local control of various regions.
While the original signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 did not have a strong effect on the world by itself (subsequent signings would have a more significant effect), it is representative of several social shifts in the late Middle Ages that contributed significantly to both the European Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. The emergence of the merchant class extended education to a significantly larger minority of the population and decentralized economic power. The Western Papal Schism contributed to the further decentralization of power in the church. There were additional conflicts between civil and religious authorities as well, which compounded the destabilizing effects that each were experiencing independently.
Still, while we see the beginnings of these destabilizing effects, it would be wrong to think that the centralized civil and religious authorities were anything but very strong in the years leading up to, and following, the Protestant Reformation. The divine right of kings was often assumed.
John Wycliffe was a pre-Reformer who translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English, making it accessible to the entire literate English world. Though he never officially broke with the Catholic Church, he did challenge several of their theological and cultural stances. He preached that everyone should have access to the Bible and that people did not need the help of a professional (a priest) to interpret it. Up until the publication of his translation, only those educated in Latin could read the Bible for themselves. Thus, the reading of the Bible was reserved primarily for Catholic priests.
Significantly, not long after Wycliffe, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. While the invention began as a bit of a novelty, within the first couple generations, people realized that it could be used not only to make more legible books, but to make many copies of them for relatively little cost. This radically changed the way information and ideas were spread.
Martin Luther, like John Wycliffe, translated the Bible into common German vernacular. This, coupled with Luther’s idea of sola scriptura, made theology available to the masses instead of only within the priesthood. Luther also championed the concept of salvation by grace alone, established the idea that the culture of the Christian community should be centered on the local church, and that worship is shared by the community though singing hymns. Priests could marry, and Luther disputed the number and nature of sacraments. The effect of Martin Luther on the Protestant Reformation almost cannot be understated.
The success of the Protestant Reformation cannot be attributed to the work of one individual alone. Wycliffe provided the Bible in a language that the common people in England could read and paved the way for future dissenters. Guttenberg provided the mass printing of Bibles. And Luther promulgated the revolutionary ideas of being saved by grace and truth being found only in Scripture. Many others also contributed to the reformation fire that swept across Europe.
Other notable people carried on the ideas championed by Luther. William Tyndale wrote the first direct translation of the Bible into English from Hebrew and Greek. He was also able to distribute his translation much further than Wycliffe or others by using the new printing press. Also, in 1534, Henry VIII and the English Parliament officially broke with the Catholic Church so that he might divorce his wife and attempt to produce a male heir. Tyndale opposed Henry VIII saying that the divorce was not Scriptural and faced persecution for his opposition. Eventually, Henry’s daughter Mary I (aka “bloody” Mary) attempted to force the country back into Catholicism in 1551, killing nearly 300 people. In 1559, Henry’s younger daughter, Elizabeth I, eventually decreed that the Church of England was the national church, creating the strongest ties between church and state of any country in Europe.
This early conflict between Tyndale and the newly established Church of England will just be the first of several religious splinters on the island. Throughout the late sixteenth century and early seventeenth century, Puritans, sought to “purify” the Church of England. Puritans were heavily influenced by the theology of Calvin and Zwingli. Though the lines between these groups blur somewhat in the sixteenth century, they would eventually become Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists. The year 1592 represents the year most Congregationalist churches mark their beginning, launched by the writings of Robert Browne (this picture is not of Robert Browne, but of a generic Puritan).
George Fox was born in 1624 and went into public ministry in 1647. Almost immediately after Fox began his public ministry, the First English Civil War ransacked the country, pitting the Church of England “royalists” against the Puritan “parliamentarians.” Fox saw the pursuit of political power as an utter distraction and taught a deep reorientation of people’s lives to Scriptural obedience and the focus upon a personal relationship with the Spirit of Christ. We will elaborate significantly on the teachings of Fox and other early Friends in Chapter Three. During the twelve-year period (1648-1660) between the English Civil Wars, the Friends movement proved to be the fastest growing religious movement anywhere in the world.
This slide looks at several other events that were very significant in shaping the world amid which the Quaker movement arose. It is easy to find information on each of these events with a quick internet search.
This is a great placeholder slide for a discussion on the Quaker Terms handout.
“Open Worship” (Silent Worship, Waiting Worship, or Unprogrammed Worship) is the practice by which early Quakers traditionally worshipped. Today Evangelical Friends churches have transitioned their worship experience to be very similar to other Evangelical church services. However, a traditional Quaker meeting had no designated preacher. Instead, everyone would meet in silence with the expectation that God would speak directly to the people attending. If a person felt lead to speak, they would stand and speak and then sit down. Much of the service was spent in quiet, with people praying or thinking about what was spoken. Scripture could be read and prayer requests shared, but the meeting was not planned out in advance.
This slide always signals the end of the session. Many unprogrammed Friends meetings simply end when two Elders stand and shake hands with one another prompting everyone to shake hands with those around them. Since the whole meeting has been spent in prayer, it seemed oddly formal to end with another special prayer. Similarly, as each of the members were communing with the same Spirit of Christ, they believed that Christ would let them know when the meeting should be over (there is a well-known joke among unprogrammed Friends who point out how often the Spirit of Christ seems to nudge people that the meeting has ended when they have spent about an hour together). When the Elders agreed that the Spirit had closed the meeting, they shook hands, signaling that the meeting was to move into a time of fellowship with one another.
We will not comment on every handshake slide, but simply ending your small group presentation with a handshake might be a good way to end every lesson.
Chapter Two: Quaker Aristocrats
Remember to adjust the slide so that the numbered dates correspond to the day you are presenting the material.
We will be taking some time here in Chapter Two to look at the lives of some specific Friends in history. There is an ongoing joke that our famous Friends are “Quaker Aristocrats.” This term is used somewhat tongue in cheek as the Equality testimony of Friends stood in stark opposition to the practice of elevating an Aristocratic class. Still, several of the most influential early Friends were actually members of the English Aristocracy and having Friends in positions of influence has been one of the things that has given our movement a reach beyond what one might expect for a group that has never made up much more than one percent of the general population of a country.
In this section we will review key Quaker leaders in various disciplines throughout history and tie them to verses of Scripture that underscore one of the principles they were known for.
William Penn was mentored by George Fox. William Penn wrote of George Fox, “above all [George Fox] excelled in prayer.” Through the ministry of George Fox, a glimmer of apostolic power was revealed to seventeenth century England. He was a man of the Spirit in an age where people were often more concerned with political power than the power of the Holy Spirit. It was his habit to wait in silence for the movement of the Holy Spirit and then begin to pray, causing whole congregations to be shaken and humbled under the hand of God Almighty.
One of the most significant ways that Friends differed from their contemporaries was through the ardent belief in the priesthood of all believers, based in part on 1 Peter 2:4-9. This played itself out in the conviction that everyone could experience God directly, without the intermediating work of a priest or pastor (other than Christ himself). Everyone had a right to speak in their meetings, and everyone’s gifts were equally valued.
The Quaker belief that an Inward Light resides in each person is based in part on a passage from John 1:9, which says, “That [Jesus] was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Friends emphasize the “lighteth every man,” and have inferred that God, through Jesus, is reaching out to all people in all places at all times. Early Friends took this verse as one of their rallying cries and often referred to themselves as “Children of the Light.” Even today, this is one of the core beliefs of Friends. Evangelical Friends Church Southwest, which has the motto “Jesus right here, right now” which goes a long way to summarize this sentiment.
Under Fox's leadership, the early Quakers initiated social reforms that still benefit us today. They forced prices to be marked in stores, rather than all pricing being negotiable, even for food and clothing. They reformed the treatment of the mentally insane from being chained in dungeons. They initiated education for women in the trades. They provided rest homes for the aged, who were unable to work.
Robert Barclay, more than any other early Quaker, captures early Quaker theology. Barclay was born into a noble Scottish family and raised among the intellectual elites of Europe. His uncle, also named Robert Barclay, raised him to the age of fifteen at the Scots College in Paris, where he was classically educated and studied Latin, French, Greek, and Hebrew in addition to his other classes. Later, he became a lifelong pen pal and close friend to his distant cousin Princess Elizabeth, who was the main patroness and traveling companion to the famous philosopher Descartes. As a young man he became convinced of the theology of the Friends and (along with William Penn and George Keith) accompanied Fox on some of his missionary journeys. Barclay was the first theologian to attempt to systematically organize the theology of Friends and to this day his Apology is generally considered the definitive work on the most traditional beliefs of Friends. A verse that characterizes Barclay’s ministry is 1 Peter 3:15-16 which says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Robert Barclay’s grandchildren decided to expand the family’s gold-smithing business into banking. Years later it would merge with several other Quaker-founded banks (banks founded by later generations of the Barclay, Gurney, and Backhouse families), beginning the Barclays Bank we know today. Today, Barclays Bank is one of the largest and most successful in the world.
After Fox himself, perhaps no one had as significant a role in shaping the early Friends movement as William Penn. Penn had been raised in the highest circles of the English aristocracy, the eldest son of an Admiral who was a personal friend of the King. Penn became a convinced Friend in the 1660s and was disowned by his family. He had been well educated and had a keen theological mind. He wrote extensively debating Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Baptists. In fact, he probably published more theology than any other early Friend except Robert Barclay. He also wrote reflective devotional material. His No Cross, No Crown, which he wrote during one of two long imprisonments, is considered a classic to this day. He was also a significant statesman, implementing what he called the “holy experiment,” in the foundation of the Pennsylvania colony. This experiment tried out several political ideas that had not been used before. First, under Penn’s direction, early settlers upheld the law equally for everyone regardless of class background. They also paid the Delaware Indians a fair price for land and did not settle on land that was not offered to them. They did not put Native Americans on reservations. Quakers in Germantown, Pennsylvania abolished local slavery in 1688 (though slavery was not abolished statewide until 1780). Still, Pennsylvania was the first state in the Union to abolish slavery. They did not get involved in wars. Probably most famously, they became notorious throughout Europe for being the first known government to allow a full freedom of religion. William Penn was the perfect embodiment of a renaissance man.
Penn was also well known, especially in his younger years, for his political activism. He was at the center of one of the most influential court cases of the seventeenth century. In 1670, Penn, along with another Quaker, William Mead, allowed himself to be arrested in protest of the Conventicle Act (a law forbidding more than five people to gather for religious meetings of any kind outside of the Church of England). Both Penn and Mead were so persuasive in their defense that the jury, while acknowledging that they were preaching to a group in public, refused to convict them. The judge became angry with the jury for failing to give the verdict he wanted and had them all arrested, jailed, and fined. Penn appealed to the Magna Carta at several points in the trial but argued vigorously on behalf of the jury at this point. This set a series of appeals in motion that eventually led to England’s highest court and established a precedent that juries, in general, must be allowed to make decisions independently, free of coercion and disrespect.
Penn continued to argue for religious freedom throughout his life and was later involved in shaping the eventual policy of toleration that England would take under William and Mary in 1689. He did this despite the fact that William and Mary overthrew Penn’s personal friend, James II, in what would come to be known as “the bloodless revolution.”
Penn once wrote,
“The motives of our retreating to these new habitations I apprehend to have been, the desire of a peaceable life, where we might worship God and obey his law with freedom, according to the dictates of the divine principle.... Our business, therefore, in this new land, is, not so much to build houses and establish factories, and promote trade and manufactures, that may enrich themselves, (though all these things, in their due place, are not to be neglected), as to erect temples of holiness and righteousness, which God may delight in; to lay such lasting frames and foundations of temperance and virtue as may support the superstructure of our future happiness, both in this and the other world.”
The colony of Carolina, founded in 1663, had problems from its inception. Unlike other colonies that had been established often by settlers who sought independence and self-rule in a new land, Carolina was a colony originally comprised mostly of large tracks of land that had been awarded to the English Lords Proprietor of the colony. These Lords generally never left England, but they sought to gain an economic advantage from the land through taxes and other means. This was often unappreciated by the few settlers who actually colonized the area. Most of the early governors were incompetent or corrupt and establishing a stable government in the Carolinas seemed impossible.
In 1694, the English Lords Proprietor of the Carolina colonies appointed John Archdale as the governor of the colony. He had a strong reputation as a Quaker and a man of integrity who could not be bought. Archdale only actually ruled there for about a year, but he succeeded in enacting significant reforms during his brief tenure and establishing a lasting stable government there which allowed for the stability of the colony and opened the doors for the main wave of European colonists to feel safe in the area.
One of the things he is most well-known for is making peace with Native American tribes who had been at war with white settlers. One of the reasons that he was able to establish this peace was that he abolished the practice of selling captured Native Americans into slavery. He also established a court system that viewed all people as equals, including Native Americans, and gave them equal standing in court, especially in disputes that involved property. The legislative reforms that Archdale established became the basis of the governments of North and South Carolina for decades to come.
Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV)
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Herbert Hoover was more of a force in his relief efforts before and after his term than during his presidency. His efforts as a Food Administration official, in partnership with the American Friends Service Committee, in the reconstruction of Europe after WWI generated enough support for him as a renowned American leader that he was able to run for the Republican nomination for President in 1920, despite not having any previous experience in an elected office. He eventually lost the race but so impressed his opponent, Warren G. Harding, that the president gave him a choice of cabinet positions (an offer which was extended again by Calvin Coolidge). In 1928, when Hoover ran a second time, he won.
He remained involved in politics through the Great Depression but returned to the work of organizing relief efforts after WWII. Hoover’s hallmark and legacy as a leader was in improving the efficiency and eliminating the corruption of broad organizations. He was so effective that Harry S. Truman made Hoover an advisor to the executive branch in their management of the newly expanded (New Deal) U.S. bureaucracies, despite being a fierce political opponent. This knack for eliminating inefficiency and corruption in broad systems was especially effective in Hoover’s relief efforts. In a time with no internet or fast worldwide communication, trust of the person to whom you were sending the relief aid money or food was critical. Hoover executed this very well and is reported to have saved millions of people from starvation after the major wars.
Truth is a complex concept. And yet a commitment to truth and honesty has been one of the most core convictions of Friends since their foundation. Friends have sometimes used the word as a name for God, sometimes for the conviction that arises from worship, sometimes for their way of life. It was the obedience to Truth as they understood it that led Friends to act in ways which others thought odd and even provocative. For early Friends, witnessing to Truth involved the keeping up of public meetings for worship, whatever the penalties involved. It also involved preaching, for which several thousand Friends were imprisoned and over five hundred lost their lives. The concern for truthfulness led Friends right from the first day to refuse to take oaths. An oath according to them was a sign that there were two different levels of truthfulness and they believed that Jesus calls us to let our “yes be yes, and our no, no.” (Matthew 5:37) This concept of truth was vital in Hoover’s relief work.
Jane Addams is often considered to be the first American social worker. She was also the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. She founded Hull House, one of the many Settlement Houses in the United States. Addams was raised with the Friends teaching that all people were equal before God and that Christ’s love for them compels us to reach out in compassion to those in need. As an adult, when Addams relocated to the inner city of Chicago to found Hull House, she left the Friends movement in favor of the Presbyterians. However, this seems more of a logical step of convenience rather than a clear change in conviction as there were, and are today, no Evangelical Friends churches in Chicago.
Settlement Houses like Hull House provided continuing education classes and vocational training for adults, as well as school for children. They became famous for their promotion of the arts in particular with classes in painting, music, and theatre. They organized job clubs, offered public health classes and services, and even coordinated recreational activities for immigrant families including targeted exercises for every age group.
At the turn of the century, these Settlement Houses were seen as being highly effective and non-Friends groups even started using them. By the end of WWI, there were hundreds of them scattered across the country providing services. Some of them are even operational today, though some services have changed.
It is interesting that what united most Settlement Houses was not a program or set of services but the belief that most social problems could be solved by initiative from local grassroots organizations: neighbors helping and embracing each other. Settlement House workers saw themselves not as dispensing charity but as working to develop their neighborhoods.
Tamon Maeda is commonly known for being the first president of the board, and one of the three founders, of a company that would eventually be known as Sony. However, Maeda’s contribution to Japanese society might be better measured by the work that he did as the Minister of Education. In fact, there were a few Friends who were in the Ministry of Education in Japan both prior to WWII and just after it (Maeda serving as the first actual Minister of Education after WWII), though Friends were completely eliminated from public office in Japan in the years immediately prior to the war, as they were among the most outspoken opponents to the expansionist policies of the Japanese government. Maeda’s daughter, Mieko Kamiya, may have had an even greater influence on the Ministry of Education in her day, though she never served as the Minister of Education.
Friends have had a long history of valuing the education of the young. They have started schools in dozens of countries around the world, many of which are recognized as being some of the finest academic institutions available in their regions. For example, just in the United States, several Christian universities have a Friends background: Azusa Pacific University, George Fox University, Malone University, Barclay College, etc. Also, consider the number of institutions founded by Friends that no longer have a Friends affiliation: Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania (founded by a board that included Friends), Brown University (the first charter required that the board of directors be made up of Baptists and Friends and the Brown Family itself was a mix of Baptist and Friends), Swathmore College, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, and, of course, Whittier College. Many students of these colleges today are only vaguely aware (if aware at all) of the historical connection that they share with Friends. The purpose of Friends has never been to establish monuments but to educate students of the future.
Friends have a long history in the business world. It was early Friends business leaders who first instituted the innovation of the price tag. In the seventeenth century, it was common practice for store owners to size up potential clients to see how much then could get and then haggle with them, constantly misrepresenting the actual value of the product to see if they could make more. Friends so objected to this misrepresentation that they began writing the prices of items on the items themselves. That way the price would be fixed for all customers.
John Cadbury exemplified a Quaker entrepreneur. His company first took off when he developed an inexpensive cocoa drink that could be purchased by working class people. He developed it, in part, as an answer to the liquor that he felt was ruining communities. His business exploded later on when he was able to create a chocolate bar that used more milk than other chocolate bar competitors, increasing its availability to lower income clients. Later on, as their chocolate bars became more popular and they entered the industrial age, the Cadburys were on the forefront of workers’ rights. They provided all of their factory employees with decent wages and built the village of Bournville to house them and provide for their needs. To this day, Bournville is often recognized as one of the nicest places to live in the United Kingdom. And to this day it remains a dry city. Another famous chocolate maker and inventor of the Kit-Kat, Joseph Rowntree, was also a Friends philanthropist and was one of the first people to provide free health care for all of his employees.
The Friends reputation for honesty also made a huge impact in banking. In addition to the Barclays, the Gurneys and Lloyds were also significant Friends bankers. While the Gurneys and Barclays eventually merged to create one of the most powerful banks in the world, Lloyds is still a significant, independent English bank today.
John Greenleaf Whittier was a crusader against slavery long before it was popular to be against slavery. He basically ended his political career early by writing a very long book on why slavery should be abolished and worked the rest of his life to see it done. Serving as an editor, poet, and writer, he addressed this issue from both a political and a social angle.
Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV)
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Romans 10:12 (ESV)
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
There are very few modern poets who are as well-known and widely read as John Greenleaf Whittier. To understand the influence that he had in his day it might be best to think of him the way that we might a modern political writer, cartoonist, and editor. He made it his life work to do away with slavery many decades before the height of the abolitionist movement. This poem was one he wrote which was widely carried by newspapers of the time. Remember, in the mid-nineteenth century it was difficult and rare for newspapers to print pictures. The writer could only put words on paper. However, the words stayed around a little longer. Newspapers were often left around for a while, as daily newspapers would not become common for several decades to come. Consequently, every family member was likely to read it, and everyone discussed what was printed. A poem painted a picture with words.
Try having a good reader read this poem aloud to the group.
One of the most influential families of recent history among California Friends has been the Marshburns. Bill, Frank, and Cliff Marshburn were successful carrot farmers in Southern California in the 1940s and 1950s. Throughout the middle of the century, as development in Los Angeles and Orange Counties continued to explode, their land became more and more valuable as real estate than it was as farmland. Their choice to invest their money in the Kingdom of God has led to the foundation of more than a dozen Friends churches as well as several other social institutions. Becky Keife recorded one of the stories of the Marshburns’ significant contributions to Azusa Pacific University in the winter 2008 issue of APU Life magazine like this:
On a crisp fall morning in 1956, President C.P. Haggard and a group of administrators gathered in his office to pray. The fate of the school hung in the balance—literally. The remaining $25,000 on the university’s mortgage was due in one hour. With bare bank accounts and an all-too-eager mortgage holder ready to seize the property should the school default, all the men could do was pray.
The sharp ring of the telephone interrupted their petitions. President Haggard answered. Bill Marshburn had called to see if the mortgage had been paid.
“No, and the deadline is noon,” the president told him. “How much do you owe?” Marshburn asked. “$25,000,” Haggard replied. A pregnant pause followed. “I had been thinking in terms of $5,000,” the Training School for Christian Workers graduate and long-time supporter said. Then, after a long silence, Marshburn continued, “Meet me at the bank before noon.” Within the next 60 minutes, Bill contacted his brothers, Frank and Cliff, and each came up with $5,000. Together, the three brothers assumed a note for the remaining $10,000. Haggard and Marshburn walked out of the bank with the paid document in hand by the deadline.
More than 25 years later, Don Marshburn heard the story for the first time of his father, Cliff, and uncles’ incredible act of giving. Though he knew his family was deeply invested in Azusa Pacific University, a tradition that started with his grandfather, William V. Marshburn, in 1903, Don never knew the extraordinary role his uncles and father played in saving APU (then Pacific Bible College) until he became personally involved in 1981. But Don was not particularly shocked that he didn’t know about this heroic family tale. “They were very quiet and reserved. It wasn’t a topic of conversation around the dinner table.”
One of the key elements of the Marshburns’ story is their virtual anonymity. They were men of humility who invested millions of dollars to build monuments of spiritual change in the lives of thousands of people. They did not seem to seek recognition or praise for their investment; they simply desired that the Kingdom be expanded.
To understand the emphasis that Friends have had on leaving spiritual instead of physical monuments, we will contrast William Penn with his father.
William Penn was born the son of Admiral Sir William Penn Sr., an astute political leader and brilliant military mind who had won fame fighting (first for the Commonwealth, and then switching sides to fight for the Crown) in each of the English Civil Wars. His family gained huge land holdings in Ireland as a reward for his service in the Civil Wars. Penn Sr.’s most famous mission was probably his personal escort, acting both as Admiral and a Member of Parliament, of the exiled Charles II from France to reclaim his English throne in the early 1660s. However, his military career did not stop there. It was long and wildly successful. Throughout the 1660s Penn Sr. acted as the flag commander (more or less the vice-admiral) to High Admiral James Stuart, Duke of York, who would become his lifelong friend (and would remain a loyal friend of the family’s even after he became James II, King of England and Ireland and James VII, King of Scotland in 1685). William Penn Sr. was, in his day, a well-known figure in the highest levels of aristocratic English society. However, today most people only remember Penn Sr. for the reward given him by Charles II in thanks for his military escort when he retook the throne: the large tract of (then useless) land that Charles named Penn’s Woods, or Pennsylvania. Penn Sr. died at the peak of his influence in 1670.
As a young man, William Penn Jr. was a great point of pride for his father. Penn excelled in the highest circles of his education at Oxford. He was on track to even further his father’s social and political career. He took time off from Oxford to spend a couple years in the court of Louis XIV in France and came back an even more cultured and sophisticated young man, now with social connections in France. But in 1666, when a traveling Quaker evangelist visited his town, he became convinced. He began to dress simply, which made him stand out in society. He stopped bowing or tipping his hat to his social superiors, which made him a social pariah. He began calling everyone “thee,” eventually stopped wearing his aristocratic sword, and his father formally disowned him. Eventually Penn reconciled with his father, but there grew a profound difference in the value systems that each of them lived by, and the rift never fully healed. Penn had just been released from prison for his violation of the Conventicle Act when his father, still an active member of parliament, died in 1670.
At his father’s death, Penn inherited all of his father’s lands and prestige. As a Quaker, he could not run to replace his father’s seat in Parliament, and his disputes with his well-respected father were also well known, but he continued to have an influence in the highest levels of English society. Later on, his “holy experiment” would take Pennsylvania from being a useless piece of backwater forest to becoming the most famous, or perhaps infamous, seventeenth century colony on the American continent. Pennsylvania was known throughout Europe for implementing radical ideas of social equality and freedom of religion. There was a mass migration, not only of English Quakers, but of several branches of European Anabaptists (including the Mennonites and Amish) and other persecuted religious minorities from every country in Europe to the new colony. While the Penn family lost some of their vast wealth through the implementation of his ideas, his name grew to be even more well-known than his father’s. While Admiral Sir William Penn was known in the highest circles of English society, his son’s radical, accepting American colony became a household name, known throughout noble and common circles alike in every country on the European continent.
Although not pictured here, this slide represents a place similar to St. Mary Redcliffe’s Church in Bristol, England. Admiral Sir William Penn Sr. was buried there when he died in 1670.
The Henry VII Chapel was a later addition to Westminster Abbey, provided for by Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in his will as a place for him and his descendants to be buried. Charles II, who Admiral Sir William Penn escorted back from exile, was buried there.
The nave of the Henry VII Chapel is even more grandiose than its exterior. The vaulted ceilings tipped in gold are a marvel of late gothic architecture and have been studied the world over. Charles II was entombed there; his name is carved into the floor stones. His son, James II, who was a personal friend of the Penn family, was exiled and his bones were never brought back from France. However, James’ place in the Abbey was taken by his daughter Mary II and her husband William of Orange. Their daughter, Anne, and great-grandson, George II, are also buried there.
In contrast, this is a view from the balcony of William Penn’s home church in England. It is still in use today as a Friends meetinghouse where people gather weekly to worship. When William Penn died in 1718, he was buried in the Quaker graveyard just outside.
This is a picture of William Penn’s gravestone (and Tim White). If you cannot make it out on the slide, it shows his name, his wife’s name, and the year that each died. Nothing more was needed. Friends in general have not been keen on monuments to personal greatness. In fact, this is the main reason for the Simplicity Testimony of Friends. They sought to glorify and magnify God. Their efforts went to expanding His kingdom in the world. If that was accomplished, they did not mind being forgotten. In their speech, clothing, and spending habits, they exhibited a desire to work with God to advance His Kingdom and then get out of the spotlight, so He would get all the glory.
Here is a Quaker who many people know today that works worldwide to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. Quakers do not strive to build monuments or schools or buildings but instead testify to the Truth that changes lives. These last three slides focus on missionaries who are doing amazing work around the world. Feel free to use whichever slide will be most recognizable to the people in your small group or add one of your own.
Here are some Quakers who many people know today that work mainly in Cambodia to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. Quakers do not strive to build monuments or schools or buildings but instead testify to the Truth that changes lives.
Here are some Quakers who many people know today that work mainly in Nepal to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. Quakers do not strive to build monuments or schools or buildings but instead testify to the Truth that changes lives.
This is a slide of a woman, Veta Lindsey, who spent her life in service at Granada Heights Friends Church. When this presentation was given there, it was valuable for them to see that there were Quakers who lived in the legacy of Friends even from their own congregation. When you present this slideshow, try changing out this slide for a well-known and well-respected servant at your church.
Chapter Three: Direct Access
Remember to adjust the slide so that the numbered dates correspond to the day you are presenting the material.
In the third session we begin to look at several key Quaker concepts, including the Quakers’ revolutionary ideas on the equality of man and leadership roles for women.
Friends theology has always had one glaring vulnerability. This weakness has to do with the question of Divine Revelation and Authority.
If we can say that the pre-Reformation Catholic Church had in some ways built a table of doctrine that was founded (supposedly) on one, huge table leg of “tradition,” then Luther famously constructed a new table with doctrine founded upon sola scriptura. Later on, Wesley would famously give us his “quadrilateral,” a doctrinal table built on four legs of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Early Friends had a table built on two legs: God’s revelation through Scripture and the “direct, unmediated” revelation of the Holy Spirit, and tables built on two legs are notoriously unstable. It might be better to see it as a bicycle. The Friends movement had relatively few surface level problems moving forward with these two sources of authority in its first century of existence. As long as it was carrying the momentum of the early movement, it was able to maintain its balance with these two sources of authority. But the second century of the movement (1750-1850) slowed down significantly, and by the early nineteenth century the Friends movement saw several huge schisms, most of which would play out with one side acting as the champion of one source of authority, using it to justify their arguments, and their opponents doing the opposite.
Early Friends wrote that the Bible should have an unbreakable authority in our lives. Many of the practices that got them into trouble with their contemporaries came from a commitment to completely submit to their best understanding of Scripture, even if it contradicted the cultural norms of England. They numbered the days of the week and months instead of using names that were based on Norse and Roman gods because “thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) Their commitment to equality was rooted in Scripture. Levi Coffin would later explain why he assisted people along the Underground Railroad by answering, “I read in the Bible when I was a boy that it was right to take in the stranger and administer to those in distress, and that I thought it was always safe to do right. The Bible, in bidding us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, said nothing about color, and I should try to follow out the teachings of that good book.” (Quaker Writings, p. 243) The belief of early Friends that women should be encouraged to use their gifts in public ministry came from a desire to live out the life of the New Testament church, which had many women in public ministry. They took the Bible as “literally” as any modern day fundamentalist, incorporating a basic understanding of genre and mystery, but ultimately submitting to their best understanding of the commandments even beyond their understanding of why they must.
Perhaps the most pronounced example of this is the early Friends’ refusal to take oaths. They mainly insisted that their yes was yes and their no, no (Matthew 5:37, James 2:12) and upheld a tradition of honesty. As Fox put it once, “We told them that if they could prove that, after Christ and the Apostle had forbidden swearing, they did ever command Christians to swear, then we would take these oaths; otherwise we were resolved to obey Christ’s command and the Apostle’s exhortation.” (Journal, p. 399) This practice of being open to a hermeneutical challenge became common practice for early Friends preachers, though it occasionally reads a bit tongue in cheek.
However, they also believed that God communicated with them directly through silent prayer. Furthermore, they maintained that “direct, unmediated revelation” was just as authoritative as Scripture. While they encouraged people to study their Bibles, they spent even more energy and focus on imploring people to get to know the Spirit, by whose power the Scriptures were written. In fact, early Friends were often viewed as heretics for the claim that Scripture itself was a revelation of secondary importance. They talked about the direct, unmediated revelation of the Spirit as primary, and the authority of the Bible as secondary (though as we’ll see, this may be a semantic difference more than anything else, since having a person’s understanding of Scripture be enlightened by the Holy Spirit while they read it was often considered to be part of this direct, unmediated revelation which was primary).
To understand why early Friends emphasized the present Spirit so much, we need to look at the world from which they came. The fire of the Reformation in England had gotten mixed up with a lot of unhelpful practices, which crept in from either non-Christian political forces or the remnant of the spiritual lethargy of nominally-Christian medieval Europe. The relationship between government and the church was extremely close in England; and the church dominated the thought structures of people. The church could make it very hard on a person to conduct business or be part of official civic organizations if they stepped out of line. The Bible was usually chained to a reading stand near the altar. Lay people were not allowed to study it or challenge the Church’s interpretation of the Bible or the Church’s political or religious authority. These strong restrictions would lead to three civil wars in England, none of which would result in less religious oppression.
Against the suffocating way that the church operated, Quakers brought forth a belief from Scripture (1 Peter 2:9-10) that the individual believer is a priest with just as much authority as any church official, vicar, or pastor. They had just as much right to represent God or teach Truth (if it was true) or act as an intermediary, interceding for people in prayer and introducing them to Jesus. They also pushed the belief that the church is the spiritual reality of God’s people, people who He has gathered together. They claimed this had nothing to do with a building or organization (even theirs). Furthermore, they encouraged everyone to read God’s Word and be directly influenced by God with no need to go through anyone else. It was against this backdrop that they advocated that God could speak to people directly in prayer without any mediation, save Christ alone. These ideas may not seem very radical today, but they defied the traditions of the time and were considered a threat by the religious power structures.
If you want to think of a movement as having life verses, the life verses of Friends might be John 15:15 and John 1:9. John 15:15 is obvious, as it is the verse from which we as Friends have taken our name. However, John 1:9 has been one of the main verses used to describe our understanding of Jesus as the Light, which has been a central metaphor for Friends. Some other passages that have been significant to the Friends understanding are in Luke 8 and 11; John 1, 3, 8, 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ephesians 5; 1 Peter 2; and 1 John 1 and 2. As a group leader, you may want to read portions of each of these passages with your group to show that this idea of Jesus as Light is deeply rooted in Scripture.
The picture used in the corresponding slide has become a Quaker internet meme often associated with early Friends and the Friends movement more broadly. Interestingly, it is often printed with the caption, “because of my inner light,” which is highly anachronistic as it shows an early eighteenth century Friend while the term was not used among Friends until the mid-nineteenth century.
One of the ways early Friends expressed the concept of their direct, unmediated relationship with Jesus is through the metaphor of the “Inward Light.” This metaphor is one that has stood the test of time and is still used frequently today in some Friends churches. Fox and others needed a way to communicate that God speaks directly to the human condition, not through ecclesiastical structures or political office. The Quaker belief that the Light is reaching out to each of us and desires to meet with us “inwardly” is based on several passages in the New Testament which refer to Jesus as a light. One of the most significant passages is John 1, particularly verse 9, which calls Jesus "the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." Friends emphasize the part of the verse that indicates that the Light comes to every person. Early Friends took this verse as one of their mottos and often referred to themselves as “Children of the Light.” A significant part of their worship service was sitting in quiet, focusing inwardly, waiting for this Inward Light of Christ to commune with them.
This practice of living in a constant communion with the presence of Christ was from its inception one of the cornerstones of the movement. As we have already discussed, Friends emphasized this direct, unmediated relationship with Jesus as being one of the two sources of authority in their Christian walk (coupled only with the guidance of Scripture). The metaphor of the Inward Light became a shorthand way of referring to that direct, unmediated relationship, and describing its role in our daily lives. Friends strove to become aware of, sensitive to, and submissive towards this Inward Light of Christ in every moment. One famous Friend from the mid nineteenth century, Joseph John Gurney, wrote about their worship services as the experience of simply being intentional to stop what they were doing and refocus on the presence of this Inward Light in silence and humility.
The concept of the “inner light” is a later but similar term, not to be confused with “Inward Light.” The idea of the “inner light” arose in the nineteenth century as a shorthand way of saying that there is a part in all of us that is made in the image of God, a little inner light that longs to be in relationship with the greater Light of Christ. Fox often wrote about how the Image of God in man draws man into relationship with God. Fox described his work as a traveling evangelist as “walk[ing] cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.” This idea was described well by the non-Quaker A.W. Tozer’s commentary on Psalm 42:7, where he unpacked the “deep calling out to deep.” The deep part of me longs for relationship with the true deep of God.
The term inner light has a bit of a mixed heritage, however, as some liberal Friends have taken it a step further. Some write about the inner light as the part of us that is God, or is divine, in an almost “Atman is Brahman” kind of way. Also, among liberal Friends meetings, the terms “inner light” and “Inward Light” are often used interchangeably. Thus, while the original concept behind the term inner light is quite beautiful and anchored in orthodox Christianity, some Evangelical Friends have stopped using the term because of the fear of the corruption by the more liberal theologians. Evangelical Friends, then, often use the older term “Inward Light,” as a somewhat indirect, but still clear, way of expressing our belief that the Light of Christ meets us inwardly, but does not originate in us.
Early Friends took the idea that God desires a direct, unmediated relationship with each of us far beyond the devotional concept of the Inward Light. Another result of this belief was anchored in the “each of us” part of the statement. If God desired relationship with everyone, Friends thought, then all people are more or less equal and all of immense value. One common misconception is that early Friends saw all life as of inherently equal value. However, most early Friends did not strongly object to the basic idea of nobility, income inequality, or the comfortable lives of the rich. But instead of completely denying any inherent value differences in people, they said that these differences paled in comparison to the gift of direct relationship which God had given us.
Furthermore, dwelling on these slight inequalities in people only ended up stoking their egos, tempting those singled out with the sin of pride. Pride, they thought, just acts as a barrier as that person might seek a deeper relationship with God, and practices that exalt the individual do nothing to glorify God.
This view that all people are immensely valuable gave rise to some unusual practices among Friends. It was customary in seventeenth century England for men to remove their hats in the company of their “betters,” and Friends rejected that. They also refused to use the second person plural “you” when referring to individuals of higher social rank and used the second person singular “thee” for everyone. They tried, in humility, to avoid stoking the egos of those in higher society. This often got them into trouble.
They openly preached this message of equality to all people. One example of this ubiquitous uniformity can be inferred from an event experienced by George Fox in 1671. The governor of Barbados had heard of the reputation of Friends to treat everyone like they were equal and barred Fox from admission to the colony, fearing that he had secretly come to instigate a slave revolt. One of the earliest statements of faith from Friends is a letter written by George Fox to that governor. The letter assures him otherwise and explains Friends theology. However, the governor was not wrong in assuming that Friends were on the forefront of advocating for the rights of marginalized people. The first large group they advocated for were prisoners. The conditions of prisons in the seventeenth century were so bad that simply being sent to prison, a person ran a serious chance of dying from disease. Early Friends taught that because God values and desires relationship with everyone, even prisoners, prisons should be places where the government put the people God loves, not places where criminals were put to die. Friends immediately became aware of this when they started being sent to prison in large numbers in the 1650s. After advocating for prison reform, they began to advocate publicly for the rights of immigrants, the rights of the poor, Native Americans, disabled people (especially those with mental disabilities), workers, women, and slaves, just to name a few.
Quakers extended this belief in equality to women as well. They believed that, like men, women were also made in the image of God. This belief seems obvious to us now but was radical at the time. Consider the role of Eve in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Milton writes that while Adam is made in the image of God, Eve is only made in the likeness of God and all of her problems, indeed, all of humanity’s problems, stem from her habit of straying from her husband’s authority. Thus, early Friends, who pointed out this idea of women being made in God’s likeness, inferior to His image, as being unbiblical, were considered dangerous.
Some people also held that women had no souls and had to approach a relationship with God through their husbands. As early as 1646, George Fox wrote in his journal, “I came upon a sort of people who held that women have no souls, adding in a light manner, ‘no more than a goose.’ But I reproved them, and told them that was not right; for Mary said, ‘my soul doth magnify the Lord.’” Not long after, he challenged a priest who would not permit a woman to speak in a church. “For the woman asking a question, he ought to have answered it, having given liberty for any to speak.”
Beyond being made in the image of God, early Friends believed that God sometimes would prompt women by his Holy Spirit to teach, preach, and prophesy in their public meetings. Against the backdrop of the medieval Catholic Church (which held that the highest ministry to which a woman could aspire was that of a nun who prayed in secret) and then the more recent Reformation churches (which held a similar view but also allowed women to be pastor’s wives and influence the church through their husbands), this view was extremely radical. Even to this day many Evangelical denominations do not allow women to teach from the pulpit.
The Friends argument for women in ministry has not changed much in the last 350 years. It rests on the reality that in the New Testament we are given several examples of women who were prophets, leaders, and teachers, some of whom Paul explicitly approves of. There is no conflict with this interpretation when we read the two passages most often used to silence women (1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34) as special cases for the specific people Paul was writing to in first century Ephesus and Corinth. Furthermore, we affirm that God has been prompting women by His Holy Spirit to teach, preach, and prophesy today and affirm them to follow that leading. Though Margret Fell’s famous 1666 essay is probably the most formational work in this field, Robert Barclay put it most succinctly when he wrote, “Since male and female are one in Christ Jesus, and he gives his Spirit no less to one than to the other, we do not consider it in any way unlawful for a woman to preach in the assemblies of God’s people when God so moves her by his Spirit.”
Elizabeth Hooton was one of the first women to respond to Fox’s preaching in 1647 and became a vibrant leader in the early Friends community. She was the first women to become a recorded minister of the gospel and preached fervently throughout England. She was imprisoned twice for public preaching. She also played a significant role in the establishment of multiple Friends meetings in the Caribbean. She worked tirelessly for the gospel and died in 1672 while on one of her missionary journeys to Jamaica.
The woman photographed in this slide is Elisa White, a recorded Friends minister, who moved from Indiana to California and worked as an itinerant minister, preaching at various parts of the Yearly Meeting. After her husband died, she worked mainly in Whittier, California and ran a small business. She did this all at a time when women did not have the right to vote.
The Quakers were heavily criticized for putting women on equal footing with men. This picture gives an example of the contemporary critique against Friends’ encouragement of women preaching. Notice the animals’ reaction (for example, the dog peeing on the Quaker woman in the crowd). Notice the disinterested and annoyed expression of the listeners. A touch we often miss now is that the hats of the three Quaker women are intended to make them look like witches. Much of the early imagery used to represent Friends could easily be characterized as derogatory.
Here is another example of women in leadership being portrayed negatively. It is noteworthy that all of the women are on the facing bench in the position of authority, leading the men who appear disinterested. Far from being dissuaded by criticism like this, early Friends encouraged women to use their own voice in ministry. Throughout our history, Friends have not hesitated to be controversial.
Queries were questions that were written either by individuals or by groups intended to spur on contemplation and reflection, creating space for the Holy Spirit to convict and enlighten an individual or community. The queries were read aloud, generally at the beginning of the meeting, and were followed by silence. People might stand and share as they felt moved by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people would even seek to further the discussion by providing a Holy Spirit-led commentary or a second query in response to the first.
Following the experience, ask the following questions: whose voice made a more significant impact? Was it the voice of the man? Was it the voice of the woman? Was it the Holy Spirit speaking through them, or speaking to the participants directly? Quakers have asserted that there is no clear right answer to this question. Instead, each of the answers could be correct depending on the experience of the individual. This is part of why Friends have encouraged women to actively participate in ministry.
The handout this week is examples of queries that other Friends have used in the past. You might recommend that group members try writing their own queries this week.
Chapter Four: “I Did What the Good Book Said.”
Remember to adjust the slide so that the numbered dates correspond to the day you are presenting the material.
Quakers were instrumental to the abolition of slavery in England, the Caribbean, and the United States. While some Friends began questioning the practice of slavery and even openly denouncing it in the early days of the Friends movement, most very early Friends believed that slavery could be practiced in a way that honored everyone involved as image bearers of God. In fact, some Friends (particularly in North Carolina, Maryland, and the Caribbean) actively participated in the slave trade. It took a period of a 100 years for the minority position (that it was impossible to own a slave and treat them like a brother) to become the fully established position of Friends.
A note to Group Leaders: Please be careful when teaching this section. Whenever white Americans get together and talk about slavery, there seems to be a tendency to either criticize everything, or a desire to praise every step forward without criticizing the embarrassingly incomplete nature of their revelations. For example, if we fail to recognize that William Penn and John Archdale’s views on slavery were revolutionary for their time, it would give us a false view of history. On the other hand, if we fail to recognize their perspectives as woefully deficient, we can rightfully be criticized as failing to account for the evil in our own society. Failing to take a self-critical, honest, and humble view of our Friends movement flies in the face of the traditions that have been at the core of the movement from the beginning and undermines the reputation that we have spent hundreds of years establishing.
George Fox was not an abolitionist. He never commanded slave owners to release their slaves or advocated for legal change. However, his insistence that Christian slave owners treat their slaves like brothers and his modeling of the behavior of treating blacks and Indians as equals earned him the reputation of instigating unrest. He specifically addresses this reputation in his letter to the Governor of Barbados in 1671. Instead of abolition, the most common position among early Friends was to treat slaves in the same way they treated indentured servants. Those Friends often encouraged slaves to participate in society, attend church, get married to whomever they chose, and raise children. They would also free their slaves (and often give them money or land) after they had worked for the land owner a certain number of years or when the land owner died. For example, William Penn held this view.
George Keith is representative of one of several early, vocal critiques of slavery. He led a group of a few dozen young men from around New England to denounce several elements of the early Friends movement in the years just after the death of George Fox. Keith’s group called themselves the Christian Quakers, and among other things, denounced slavery as an evil practice that had corrupted the purity of the movement. While many people look in retrospect at Keith as prophetic with respect to problems that would later arise within the movement, his abrasive and confrontational style eventually led him to be expelled from the movement, first in Philadelphia and then in London. Another famous early abolitionist movement was the declaration of the Germantown Quakers of Pennsylvania. They had come to believe that owning a slave was evil and began enforcing their position in their town in 1688.
John Archdale was mentioned in Chapter Two of this curriculum. Archdale took a stand on some level for the equal rights of all people. He established a system of courts that viewed Native Americans on equal legal standing with white Americans. He also took a stand attempting to eliminate the slavery of Native Americans who had converted to Christianity. He believed that once they had converted to Christianity, they had become brothers in Christ of the white settlers and should be treated with equal rights under the law. However, he did not take a stand against slavery of blacks or Native Americans in general, and there is some evidence that he encouraged the instigation of war between Indian tribes as a way of thinning their population and making way for more white settlers. Still, he was a revolutionary leader for his time and established an identity for Friends as people who were willing to be radically different in the cause of justice.
Benjamin Lay did a great deal to influence the cause of Abolition. He was seen as odd by his contemporaries for several reasons. First, he was a small man, 4’ 7”, who was born with a hunchback. He was also outspoken about several controversial topics throughout the course of his life, including abolishing capital punishment, abstaining from alcohol, and advocating vegetarianism. He was disowned by multiple Friends meetings and was publicly rejected by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting for aggressive and confrontational behavior. Still, his writings, later published by one of his personal friends, Benjamin Franklin, had a huge influence on several other abolitionists both inside and outside of the Friends movement. He eventually did reconcile with Friends.
Perhaps the most influential eighteenth century Friends abolitionist was John Woolman. Unlike other abolitionists, Woolman spent his career attempting to abolish slavery among Friends and was less concerned with the laws of a government he seemed to see as corrupt. In 1754 he got a traveling minute (a letter of endorsement from his local church) from his meeting that enabled him to take a missionary journey throughout the northeastern United States and preach the evils of slavery in dozens of Friends meetings.
Throughout the eighteenth century, beginning in 1709 and culminating in 1788, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting would publish a series of documents and statements first questioning and then condemning slavery more and more strongly. Woolman, along with many others, did much to encourage this. In 1743, PYM officially published their first query against slavery. Later on, in 1758, PYM published a minute requiring that any Friend engaging in slavery be put in discipline by the meeting (eventually expelling them if they would not free their slaves). While this minute was immediately affirmed by all North American Yearly Meetings, it would be another generation before it was actively being enforced even in the Deep South. Woolman went on several subsequent missionary trips covering all of the United States. He eventually crossed the Atlantic to try and further abolition among Friends in England. While there are some debates on how long it took for Friends to fully implement this standard, it seems safe to say that slavery was abolished among Friends well before 1800. Woolman stands out as a Friends mobilizer for his radical stance of nonparticipation in any benefit that might have come to him from slavery. This meant that he made his own clothes, and his own wigs, and refused to eat on silver among many other eccentricities. He also demanded the right to pay any slave who served him on his missionary journeys through the South. One of Woolman’s most noteworthy qualities was his unique ability to argue against slavery in a way that was loving and affirming and made it attractive for Friends to adopt his position. His journal is considered by many Christians from various denominations to be among the greatest spiritual classics of America. It is one of multiple Friends writings included among The Harvard Classics.
One of the most significant early flag posts in the fight against slavery was the 1743 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting query against slavery. The first move against slavery in PYM had come years earlier when in 1709 they put anyone in discipline who participated in the Indian slave trade, and there were several other, smaller moves as well, so there had been people among Friends speaking out against slavery for decades. The Germantown Quakers and Keith’s Christian Quakers also made attempts to influence this yearly meeting, because while there was no formal hierarchy, it was undeniably the most influential yearly meeting on the American continent. Once Philadelphia adopted the query, every other yearly meeting needed to take that query seriously. This meant that any person in a local meeting belonging to that Yearly Meeting who owned a slave or participated in the slave trade could be put under discipline unless they stopped or freed their slaves. This led to a nationwide abolition of slavery among the Friends within the next few generations. In 1788, Philadelphia issued their final, absolute requirement that any Friend owning slaves be expelled. While this was issued by Philadelphia, it was meant to stand outside their Yearly Meeting. There were already no known slave owners, and slavery had been outlawed by the state of Pennsylvania in 1780, thanks in part to Benezet’s group.
In 1750, Anthony Benezet began teaching classes to black children and in 1770 founded a school for black children. His simple witness was highly effective as a way of demonstrating the equality of the races. Furthermore, his years of networking would eventually lead to the first organized abolition movement in the world, the Philadelphia Abolition Society.
The Pennsylvania Abolition Society was the first American organization for the abolition of slavery and was founded in 1775 by Anthony Benezet. Benezet’s great contribution of establishing a network of people who could actively coordinate their efforts to champion the cause in strategic ways may be one of the most foundational points of the abolition movement in the United States. Of the original 24 members of Benezet’s society, 17 were Friends. However, it is the influence of one of the remaining seven, Benjamin Franklin, which made the most significant difference. Benezet convinced Franklin (who had been won to the side of abolition by Benjamin Lay) to address the continental congress to abolish the import of new slaves to the American Colonies later in 1775. Franklin also followed Benezet as the organization’s president and in 1790 made the first appeal for the total abolition of slavery to be included in the U.S. constitution.
Though the membership of the organization remained largely Friends, it was easier for Franklin to take over the presidency. Many Friends at the time believed that slavery was evil, but had also come to believe that participation in the political system of an evil government was dangerous. They believed that abolitionists would be forced to compromise their own integrity in order to play the game of national politics. They seemed to be particularly afraid that adopting the divisive tone of the abolitionists would lead to a war that would mean death and suffering for millions and that slavery could be dismantled as an institution through nonviolent resistance if given enough time. Sunderland Gardner, an anti-abolitionist Quaker wrote in 1846 that "wrong may be wrongfully opposed, and war opposed in a warlike spirit." This attitude was representative of many nineteenth century Friends. Consequently, many of them, while agreeing that slavery was sin, actively discouraged their members from participation in the abolition movement. Friends remained much divided on this issue for generations. Indiana Yearly Meeting even briefly split over the issue, forming a separate Indiana Yearly Meeting of Anti-Slavery Friends. While all Friends agreed that slavery was wrong, it would be wrong to assume that all Friends participated in the abolition movement.
Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century and up to the Civil War, the Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses for runaway slaves, each providing the slaves with food, lodging, supplies, and the route to the next house or houses on the trip. While the railroad was a true ecumenical effort, communities of Free Black Americans, Friends, and Wesleyans carried most of the burden. One of the interesting things that made Quakers particularly valuable on the Underground Railroad was that while not all of them supported abolition, they all believed slavery was wrong and would, as a united community, do their best to oppose slaves being caught and carried back into slavery. One runaway slave, Samuel Ward, recorded in his autobiography, “when the slave-catchers came prowling about, the Quakers placed all manner of peaceful obstacles in their way.” As historian Wilbur Siebert wrote in his 1898 history, The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom, “it came to be said of the Wesleyans, as of the Quakers, that almost every neighborhood where a few of them lived was likely to be a station of the secret Road to Canada.”
Levi Coffin was a Quaker who relocated his family to Indiana and later to Ohio. His home served as a hub of one of the most significant underground networks of abolitionists among Friends in these two states. He was given the title “president” of the Underground Railroad as a slur by bounty hunters who went into free states to literally drag escaped slaves back to the South. It was said that if a slave could make to Levi Coffin, they would vanish. He was so successful at getting slaves to Canada that he received many death threats from those in favor of slavery. His reply was always the same that he would do the right thing and rely upon God to protect them. His wife, Catherine, was equally stout-hearted, readying the thousands of men and women who passed through their care. It is generally estimated that at least three thousand slaves were helped to along their way by the Coffins. They were consistent in their efforts over the course of several decades. The novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin begins with a woman named Eliza running away from slavers with a baby in her arms. She crossed the Ohio River and made her way to the home of Quakers who helped her. Many people have since forgotten that the characters in that story, including names and events, were based on real people.
Harriet Beecher Stowe met Levi and Catherine sometime around 1845 when they were living in Cincinnati. She used stories of the Underground Railroad that she heard from them and even introduced a character that is probably based on Levi Coffin himself in her book.
The last decade before the Civil War brought several significant changes to the abolition debate. In the famous Dread Scott decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a black man had no legal standing in a legal conflict with a white person. This meant that slavers could enter free states and drag slaves back south. Even free blacks were deprived of their rights because of their skin color. It became very difficult to prosecute slavers for capturing them and taking them South. This meant white Northerners began witnessing their black neighbors being seized and dragged south.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin came out in 1851 and was one of the most significant single factors in swaying public opinion against slavery. Stowe’s storytelling was powerful and gripping, and many Northern white readers found it accessible.
The story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin begins on a farm in Kentucky and follows the lives of a black woman, Eliza, and a black man, Tom, who were enslaved to landowners there. When the landowners decide to sell Eliza and Tom to traders, Eliza runs north to and spends the story being chased by a bounty hunter. Tom is sold several times and his story becomes subsequently worse and worse as it goes on. Eliza encounters the Quakers who not only succeed in bringing her to freedom in Canada but also care for the bounty hunter who was wounded while chasing Eliza and bring him to the Lord through their efforts.
Tom’s story is a poetic juxtaposition of his own strong Christian faith and character with the inhumanity with which he is treated by his white slave owners. Ultimately, Tom is beaten to death for refusing to give up the location of other slaves who had escaped. While he is dying he has a vision of Christ and forgives the men who were beating him, which causes them to convert to Christianity.
John Greenleaf Whittier published his book, The Conflict with Slavery Politics and Reform the Inner Life Criticism, at least in part as early as 1833. This strong stand against slavery ended his political career. However, it put him in the front lines of writing and arguing against slavery for many years.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in many ways brought the concept of slavery into every home. The book was wildly popular and was remade into plays and illustrated in pictures. It was probably the most significant book that turned public opinion in the North against slavery.
Whittier, just like Stowe, was influential. However, his aim was to influence legislatures and intellectuals. This poem, which ran in periodicals of the day allowed people an artistic window into the sorrow that a mother might feel having her enslaved daughters sold and taken away from her. Try having a woman in your group read this poem aloud to the rest of you.
Whittier was on the front lines of the abolition battle and as such was a target for the supporters of slavery. He was almost killed once when an arsonist targeted his office. In 1857, Whittier became aware that the coming election could easily be decided by the state of Pennsylvania. He left his high-paying job to relocate to Pennsylvania and campaign for Lincoln.
The election of 1860 is one of the most unusual elections on record. The Democratic Party had recently split over the issue of slavery. The Northern Democrats wanted to overturn the Missouri Compromise, believing that new territories admitted to the union should be allowed to vote on slavery. The Southern Democrats also wanted to overturn the Missouri Compromise but for the reason that slavery would be allowed in all territories. Consequently, in the upcoming election, the votes of Democrats were divided between two parties. Furthermore, the middle of the country was dominated by a fourth political party, the Constitutional Union Party, which was organized around a single principle: avoid a separation of states at all costs. They campaigned under the principle that absolutely nothing would change.
The expectation was that most of the North would go Republican and most of the South would go for the Southern Democratic Party. The Constitutional Union Party expected to take the border states of Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and Maryland but was unlikely to win. The newest states, California and Oregon, leaned Democrat (but seemed undecided as to which of the Democratic candidates to support, North or South), except for the cities of San Francisco and Portland, which leaned Republican.
If Northern and Southern Democrats had united in the face of a common enemy, and California and Oregon had gone Democrat, and the Constitutional Union Party threw its votes in with the Democrats (which was in keeping with their philosophy of doing anything to avoid secession), the new Democratic block would have at least 130 electoral votes. The battleground states were Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Without those four, Lincoln would have only 99 votes. He would need at least 153 electoral votes in order to win.
However, Lincoln had an advantage in Ohio and Indiana: the Southern Democrats and Constitutionalists were pulling thousands of votes away from Steven Douglas, the Northern Democratic candidate and Lincoln’s main competition in those states. If they continued to bicker among themselves, Lincoln would take those states. Pennsylvania was a different story. For some reason, the state of Pennsylvania failed to recognize the Southern Democrats as a party, and the Constitutionalists had not campaigned there. So unlike in the other swing states, Lincoln would need to beat Douglas outright in Pennsylvania without those parties pulling away Democratic votes. If Pennsylvania’s 27 electoral votes went to the Democrats, they would have an opportunity to form an alliance that could give them the presidency. On the other hand, if Pennsylvania went Republican, they could even afford to lose a few swing states (like Illinois, California and Oregon) and still win.
John Greenleaf Whittier moved to Pennsylvania and campaigned for the Republicans for two years before the election. In the end, Pennsylvania went Republican with 56% of the popular vote. When all the votes in the country were counted, Northern Democrats got twelve electoral votes, Southern Democrats got seventy two, the Constitutional Union Party pulled in thirty nine, and Republicans (despite winning only 40% of the popular vote), got 180 electoral votes (having also won in California and Oregon).
The poem “The Quakers are Out” is an anthem of excitement that describes the joy Whittier felt when his people were able to work together as a group to create change in the country. He was particularly proud of how they were able to help elect Lincoln in Pennsylvania. Try having someone in the group read this poem aloud to the group.
Friends have a long history of working to help people who were marginalized. They spearheaded movements to bring relief to the poor of Europe in the late Renaissance. They had programs to reform prisons. They had programs to reform homes for the mentally ill or disabled. As we have already noted, they advocated women’s rights, as well as the rights of Native Americans and African-Americans.
One of the reasons that they were effective was that they refused to participate in violence. They refused military service and violence on a local scale. Members who engaged in violence were put in discipline or expelled. In the years leading to WWI, Friends began realizing that the need in Europe was about to explode. Furthermore, they realized that their young adults were going to need an organized form of alternative service if they were going to hold to their stance of non-violence. Thus, in 1917, they founded the American Friends Service Committee to address both of these needs. Rufus Jones, a well-known and respected philosophy professor at Haverford College, became the AFSC’s first president.
The AFSC, and Friends in general, provided many services during the war and in the years after the war. One of the most controversial was the Friends Ambulance Unit. Although the unit was run mainly by Friends volunteers, it was never endorsed by any yearly meeting in the United States or Europe because many Friends believed that it was complicit in supporting the war. Instead, Friends preferred to openly endorse the food and medical relief programs that Friends sponsored in such places as Ireland, Finland, Turkey, South Africa, Austria, Poland, and France. The two biggest efforts for relief were in Russia and Germany. The efforts in Russia did a great deal to help Russians but were even more heavily focused on the hundreds of thousands of refugees that had fled in front of the German Army and were flooding across western Russia. Throughout WWI and the years just after it, Friends gave millions of dollars to help buy and transport food and provide medical care to refugees.
Germany was an even bigger problem. At the time when WWI broke out, Germany had been importing most of its food. However, since the German Navy was much smaller than the British Navy and consisted mostly of submarines, they had trouble resisting when the British Navy put a blockade on all boats coming into Germany. Famine conditions were evident from the outset of the blockade but continued for years even after peace had been declared. The average daily caloric intake was reduced to about half of what was normal in Germany before the war. Epidemics of tuberculosis, rickets, and scurvy started hitting children and expectant mothers the hardest. The infant mortality rate in 1924 was 40%.
Herbert Hoover, who was at that time the director of the American Relief Administration, wrote a letter to Rufus Jones requesting that the AFSC take over the relief programs in Germany. Together, with over 40,000 German volunteers, they started a feeding program that first ranked children on their level of need and then provided food to the neediest children who qualified. They also provided medical care and other simple goods that people needed to rebuild their lives. Unlike most other parts of Europe where Friends were also working, no other American organization would undertake relief work in Germany during or immediately after the war. All told, Friends raised 12.5 million dollars’ worth of food and gifts in kind. They got an additional 10 million dollars in grants from local and international organizations, and the German government contributed as much as five million dollars’ worth of food. At its height, the relief program fed over a million German children daily.
It is estimated now that perhaps as many as 10 million lives were saved by the work that Friends did in Europe in the 1920s alone.
Adolf Hitler and several other high ranking Nazi officials remembered the work that Friends had done in Germany during and after WWI (some of them from personal experience) and would later open the doors to Friends again when the conditions became severe for Jews and others in WWII.
In previous slides, we highlighted the American Friends Service Committee. Many people from Evangelical Friends churches may wonder why there is so little contact with AFSC today. There was a shift in the 1950s-1970s where the AFSC began adopting programs that conservative Americans often considered to be liberal causes. The AFSC also started using more general language in their communication about God and became a place where people who wanted to speak openly about salvation through Jesus Christ were less and less welcome. However, this has led to the common misconception that the Evangelical and Orthodox branches of Friends were not heavily involved in the work that AFSC did in the years surrounding and between WWI and WWII. While today AFSC represents liberal Friends more than conservatives, this was not the case in the first half of the twentieth century.
Friends were a bit less active in the years surrounding WWII than they were in the years surrounding WWI. However, this was not due to interference from the Nazi regime. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazi party was very vocal about the fact that they did not want Jews in Germany. However, until Hitler adopted “the final solution” in 1942, the plan had been to push the Jews out of Germany, not to exterminate them. So in the years just before WWI, the bulk of the Friends’ efforts were to help Jews migrate to other parts of the world. Once war irrupted, the Friends helped provide food for the refugee camps in unoccupied France that were created by Jews and others fleeing Germany. Since many Germans remembered the work that Friends had done when they were children, Friends were given full access to any prison or camp at work in the 1930s in Germany.
Some have wondered why, if Friends were given access to all the concentration camps that the Nazis were using, and if they had freedom from the Nazi government to extract as many Jews as they could relocate, why were the Friends not effective in preventing the Holocaust? Tragically, the bottleneck for Friends was with the United States government. When leaders from the AFSC went to the U.S. State Department in December 1938 to try to find out what they could do to get more Jews into the United States, they were told that the State Department could not afford the staffing that would be required to handle a surge of Jewish immigrants. AFSC worked on recruiting list of reliable people who were fluent in German and English and were willing to volunteer their time to help process visas and work with the State Department. Their volunteers were never called up.
Later, the AFSC turned their efforts to advocating for the relocation of Jewish and other at-risk children. They put a lot of energy and effort into raising support for the Wagner-Rogers Child-Refugee Act, which would have allowed them to take 20,000 Jewish children from camps in Europe and bring them to families in the United States. Despite a lot of work, this bill eventually died in committee.
The one bright spot of Friends work on the front end of WWII was the operation of English Friends that eventually came to be known as the Kindertransport. This was an act of Parliament that allowed English Friends to bring 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany and Eastern Europe and place them with English families.
On the home front, Friends and the AFSC also worked hard to protest the internment of Japanese Americans by the United States government. The internment program went on without regard to the protests. However, Friends did begin a program that was able to secure release for over 4,000 Japanese students who were released from the camps to attend university in the Midwest. Friends churches also helped by safeguarding the belongings of Japanese Americans through the duration of the war.
After the war, Friends participated with other organizations to help provide relief to Europe.
In 1947, Friends were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work coordinating the Kindertransport as well as their decades of relief work in Europe after the WWI. Friends are one of only three groups to have been awarded the prize as a group, without singling out individuals from those organizations. Since then, the Nobel committee has decided to stop awarding prizes to groups, so they are likely to remain one of only three. The prize was split between the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Service Counsel, but it was given to them as representatives of Friends throughout history. Friends churches today are inheritors of that legacy.
Not For Sale is a modern abolitionist organization that several Friends churches have chosen to work with. They are doing great work all around the world.
Slide Twenty-three through Twenty-seven
These slides, included after the handshake, are optional slides. If you, as the group leader, think there is time then these slides go a long way to explaining some of the Friends advocacy work on the part of Native Americans.
Friends have a long tradition of honest dealings with Native Americans in the United States. Though a close examination of the tradition often uncovers the reality that their advocacy efforts were occasionally misguided and in a few instances were even harmful, the general testimony of Friends has been one of affirmation and aid.
As early as the end of the seventeenth century, the Friends’ missions to Native Americans could be shown to be different than the typical treatment by missions of other Protestant groups, in that the Friends recognized that Native Americans could have had genuine experiences of God before knowing about Jesus. Instead of trying to bring something completely foreign, they told a complementary story about who Jesus was and what He had done. They insisted that the Indians might have already experienced His Spirit, even though they did not know His name.
William Penn was also noteworthy for his treatment of the Lenape tribe (often called the Delaware tribe), who were given full and equal rights in his colony. Despite the King of England giving Penn a land grant guaranteeing him all the land of Pennsylvania and Delaware, he insisted that any land that was farmed by settlers must first be purchased at a fair price from the Lenape people.
Unfortunately, Penn’s children later rejected both their father’s treaties with the Lenape and his Quaker heritage. In 1755, the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures was founded by Friends in response to the injustices of Penn’s sons. It was the first social concern organization in the United States to focus on Native Americans. While its voice went largely unheard in the United States as a whole, it was able to occasionally delay the mistreatment of Native Americans in Pennsylvania.
Later on, Friends vocally objected to the isolation of Native Americans to reservations. After the Civil War, when President Grant decided to refocus some of his efforts on helping Native Americans through the foundation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he was able to staff his new organization almost entirely from among Friends. Though the results of the Bureau were mixed, it is noteworthy because it was one of the only organizations whose members genuinely desired and worked for the good of Native Americans through peaceful means.
In the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth, Friends disassociated their work from the government and began to allow non-Friends to work with them. The Indian Rights Association was formed to advocate and lobby for the rights of Native Americans. Its work is generally considered to be more effective than the Bureau of Indian Affairs, though it still produced some mixed results.
Native American rights are still a significant focus of Friends groups such as the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Committee for National Legislation today. Throughout their history Friends have seen Native Americans as humans with immense and equal value. They have not always honored that value in ways that we now recognized as helpful or wise but have consistently attempted to be a friend to the Indians.
Chapter Five: Quakers Like the Old Testament
Remember to adjust the slide so that the numbered dates correspond to the day you are presenting the material.
The traditional Friends’ view of the sacraments is nuanced. Friends are often said to be opposed to the sacraments. In the seventeenth century, when most Friends were excommunicated by the Anglican and Catholic churches, they did not perceive a need to replace the sacraments they had experienced in those traditions with parallel versions in their own. But this was not, as is often assumed, because they believed the physical world has no impact on the spiritual, invisible realm. Instead, it is more accurate to describe early Friends as Omni-Sacramentalists. If a sacrament, as Augustine as postulated, is a physical sign that mirrors a deeper spiritual reality, then Friends proposed that everything is a sacrament since every moment is lived in the active presence and communion of God. Friends have seen it as silly to speak of two sacraments, or seven, or of the dozens that were practiced in the first few centuries of Christianity. Anything that can be done in the presence of God, which is anything at all, is a sacrament. On the other hand, while other denominations have historically seen the sacraments as being events through which Christ can pour out His grace and grant us salvation, Friends see Christ pouring out His grace directly through His relationship with us. They even view salvation itself through the lens of this relationship with God as being much more than just going to heaven when they die. Friends have seen salvation as the act of participating in the resurrected life of Christ that begins now and continues even after death. This participation with the Spirit of Christ does not originate in the action of the sacrament but begins with an inward union with the Spirit and lives itself out in every action. Thus, everything is sacramental to the Friends, and each of these sacraments are responses to the gracious relationship with Jesus that we experience, not the origin or foundation of it.
In this chapter we’ll try to explain the Friends view of the sacraments to an audience that we assume is newer to the perspective and perhaps even a little bit wary of a perspective that flies in the face of the long tradition of Christendom. The main perspective will attempt to be a roundabout way of bringing the group on board, though there is a more direct approach in the appendices.
In the Bible, John the Baptist represents our introduction to the concept of baptism in its purest form. He was significant in his day because he baptized people in the Jordan River and preached a baptism of repentance of the forgiveness of sins. First, it is significant that he baptizes people in the Jordan River. Jews had been practicing a washing ritual by immersion in water for more than a thousand years. The practice of washing by immersion in a mikveh bath and then waiting until evening to restore a person’s ritual purity was initiated in several parts of the Torah. Passages like Leviticus 15 make it very clear and established the precedent of baptism by immersion. The Mishnah also records that converts to Judaism would need to undergo circumcision and “immerse himself” in a mikveh bath as a form of purifying themselves to allow them to partake in the Passover meal or other rituals with the group (M. Pres 8:8). By baptizing in a river instead of standing water, John sided with the Essene community in identifying a spiritual component to the ritual. However, John takes it a step further. He declares not only that ritual purification, or that spiritual union to the community of believers, can come through baptism but that sins can be forgiven through baptism. This added a completely new element to baptism that was represented neither in the standard Essene testimony, nor in the temple-based, priestly, Sadducee rituals. John’s baptism completely destabilized the religious social structures of the day. If sins could be forgiven by methods other than temple sacrifices, the priests need not be consulted. But John the Baptist did not stop there. He proclaimed that one will come after him who will not baptize people with water at all but will baptize people with fire and with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16). The idea of baptizing people into “spirit” did exist in the Essene community before John, though with a very different pneumatology. The idea of Jesus baptizing with fire is a completely unique adaptation of the older ritual, as far as we know.
Later on, Paul will begin writing about “one” baptism into which all Christians are baptized. Friends maintain that this baptism is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, not a physical water baptism.
Similarly, Matthew 26:17-30 records Jesus celebrating the Passover feast with His disciples. Much has been written on the parallels between the ritual of the Passover meal and the Lord’s Supper. Most scholars believe that when Jesus breaks the bread and passes it around, it is a reinterpretation of the tradition of breaking and passing the Afikomen. Even in Jesus’ day, the cup that was taken “after supper” (Luke’s version), the third cup of Passover wine, was already connected to the symbolism of the life blood of the Passover lamb that had died to protect the Hebrews from judgement in Egypt. The fourth and final cup is the cup of praise, or the cup of Elijah. It is probably what is meant by Matthew 26:30.
In both cases, baptism and communion, we have Jesus imbuing these familiar, Old Testament rituals with new meaning. They are forms that would have been familiar to the people He was incarnationally trying to reach, though He repurposed them to help people understand and enter into the new kind of Kingdom life He was providing them. He helped people understand what He was talking about by using rituals and metaphors with which they were already familiar.
Group leaders should allow some time for discussion on this slide. What made real disciples, even apostles (“ones sent”) of these men? Well, on some nominal level, Jesus made them apostles when He chose the twelve. However, they did not act as the empowered “sent ones” who would become the foundation for the next 2,000 years of Christian tradition right away. After He appointed them, they continued to follow Him around as a rabbi and learn from Him, and there is a clear sense that they had been undergoing a long and gradual transformation as they learned from Him. However, we must also ask, was there a distinct turning point?
Christians have often looked to specific rituals to claim them as turning points in the spiritual life. We should not see communion as a turning point in one’s spiritual journey. One of Peter’s first actions after the first communion was to deny Jesus three times. There was no significant transformation that came as a result of the communion ritual, even though it was administered by Jesus himself. We do not even see the crucifixion or the resurrection as turning points in the lives of the disciples (though we acknowledge that these events are indeed the turning points of human history). After Jesus is crucified, His disciples see to His burial, but no account is given of a decisive personal transformation. After Jesus was raised from the dead, Peter was excited but eventually goes back to fishing and seemingly gave up on the whole apostolic calling. Similarly, we do not see water baptism as being a turning point for any of the apostles. In fact, we have no Biblical record of any apostle ever having been baptized with water. The only major turning point in the lives of the disciples (other than perhaps their first call) is Pentecost. The Bible does not seem to feel it necessary to record the water baptism of the apostles because it records their baptism with the Holy Spirit in detail. At Pentecost we immediately see the disciples transformed. They speak in different languages. They preach to the crowds unashamed. Thousands are affected by their words.
Indeed, the “one” baptism of Ephesians should be seen as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit makes a huge difference in the lives of the believers. Furthermore, it is provides a cohesion and foundation to the shared life of the Church.
What about foot washing? Several smaller denominations, most notably the Brethren, and a few small subsets of larger denominations have practiced foot washing as a sacrament. There is certainly a historical precedent for foot washing as a sacrament or as an ordinance. Furthermore, John 13:14-15 is arguably the most straightforward command associated with any of the sacraments. Also, in the same way that Passover was repurposed into the Lord’s Supper, and the mikveh baths were repurposed into water baptism, the symbol of foot washing had deep historical and cultural roots. Much has been said about the practical necessity of foot washing in Jesus’ day, but it was also an Old Testament tradition. For example, God commanded the priests to wash their feet before making a sacrifice in the temple (Exodus 30:19). So, like the other sacraments, foot washing was an Old Testament tradition that was well understood in the common culture of Jesus’ day. Jesus not only used it as a symbol with a repurposed meaning, but He commanded His disciples to do it. So why do we not practice it today?
The group leader should have someone read this passage (John 13:1-17) and discuss the idea of foot washing. It is easy to get distracted at this point, so try to keep the discussion brief. It seems obvious to most people that we do not practice foot washing as a ritual because Jesus is not calling us to wash each other’s feet literally but is using this well-understood image to demonstrate that His disciples must serve each other in humility. If we are serving others in practical and humble ways, we can say that we are obeying this command. If group members understand this principle, one can ask, “If there is such a clear mandate for foot washing, and yet we ignore the form in favor of the principle behind it, why can we not do the same with water baptism or the Lord’s Supper rituals?” Instead of answering this question directly, it might be helpful to let the question linger and move on to a discussion of Galatians.
The church in Galatia was dealing with a significant problem. Judaizers from Jerusalem had come through and were requiring that people convert to Judaism before they could be included in the life of the Christian community. The main locus of the argument is solidified around circumcision. Circumcision was an Old Testament command with an incredible amount of historical precedent in Paul’s day, but he insists that it is not required because the Mosaic Law is no longer in effect. Instead, the experience of participating spiritually with the death and resurrection of Jesus is essential. Of course this will produce an external effect (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.), but the specific physical actions of the law are not required. Quakers’ view foot washing, water baptism, and the Lord’s Supper in the same way that they view circumcision. There is nothing evil in it, and if it helps a person enter into the experience of spiritual participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus, they encourage it. But it is not required, and, in some cases, can even be a distraction from what is essential.
The Friends’ position is that we have freedom to not be circumcised, though our hearts must be consecrated to Christ. We have freedom to not wash feet, though we must serve and minister to each other. We have freedom to abstain from the communion ritual with bread and wine, but not from living the reality of a spiritual communion with Jesus, remembering and entering into His death and living out His resurrected life. We have freedom to abstain from water baptism, but not from the baptism by the Holy Spirit into the name of the triune God.
When I was a child and was learning to ride a bike, if there were cracks in the upcoming pavement that I recognized, I tended to adjust the way I was riding and overcome the jolt that the cracks induced with relative grace. However, I often fell over when I encountered a crack in the pavement that I had failed to notice, even if it was obvious in hindsight. If we go back to the metaphor of Chapter Three where we said that learning to manage the early Friends’ view of authority was a bit like learning to ride a bike, we might say that the early Friends took quickly to riding with graceful balance and speed but failed to account for several cracks in the pavement which are obvious to us in hindsight.
One of the first “cracks” was the failure to develop creeds. Modern theologians and liberal Friends historians have often written about early Friends as being anti-credal. This may or may not be true depending on how a person defines “anti-credal.” It is certainly true that Friends did not recite a statement of faith as part of their early services or meetings. They seemed to oppose the way in which creeds had been used by the Anglicans, Puritans, and Catholics as a way of establishing social and political control over society. The early Friends failed to write a single, condensed statement of faith that could be used as a standard of theological assent required for inclusion in the meeting. However, most people who use the term “anti-credal” seem to mean that they believe early Friends were opposed to clearly defining the theology of the movement and that the early Friends refused to discipline those who did not adhere to the theology of the movement. This meaning of “anti-credal” does not apply to early Friends. They did adhere to an orthodox Christian theology. Several Friends felt comfortable to write theology on behalf of the movement, and there are examples of early leaders disciplining those who failed to represent the theology of Friends. In the mid-nineteenth century, a quote from William Penn began to be circulated somewhat widely among the Orthodox Friends as a response to some more liberal Friends. Penn commented that “It is generally thought that we do not hold to the common doctrines of Christianity, but have introduced new and erroneous ones in lieu thereof, whereas we plainly and entirely believe the truths contained in the creed commonly called the ‘Apostles’ Creed,’ which is very comprehensive, as well as ancient. If keeping to the terms of Scripture be a fault - thanks be to God, that only is our creed; and with good reason too, since it is fit that only should conclude, and be the creed of Christians which the Holy Ghost could only propose and require us to believe.”
Still, worse than not developing a pithy creed, Friends did not develop a comprehensive method for teaching orthodoxy. Their meetings had a strong emphasis on experience at the expense of ritual and teaching. They were a reaction against the highly ritualized services of their contemporaries which were heavy on teaching. Friends objected that people could undergo the rituals and learn a great deal about God without being transformed by an actual encounter with the living Spirit of Christ. This new emphasis in their meetings of worship would not have been a problem if they also had developed systems for teaching orthodoxy. The “first day school” programs eventually attempted to address the issue but were introduced much later and only as a reaction to the schisms of the nineteenth century. In the early days of the movement, the lack of a method for teaching did not seem to be a significant problem. Friends spent a great deal of time reading Scripture and discussing theology as a simple outpouring of the fire they were experiencing in the movement. However, as the initial fervor of the movement wore off and the energy of the meetings began to wane, less and less teaching took place. The eighteenth century – often called the Quietist period of the Friends movement for the long periods of silence that people experienced while they waited for the Holy Spirit to move – saw a gradual increase in theological diversity and a decrease in discipline placed upon people who preached or taught ideas that were contrary to the orthodox theology of the movement. Eventually, when these differing theological ideas came to a head, this led to the great schisms of the nineteenth century among Friends.
One of the most significant early problems arose between William Penn and another early Friends minister and missionary, George Keith. Keith was briefly mentioned in Chapter Four as being one of the first outspoken abolitionists among Friends. Keith recognized that some Friends who spoke passionately about their encounter with the living Spirit of Christ were failing to identify that this was the same historical figure of Jesus. He felt that people were emphasizing the experience of Christ at the expense of teaching orthodox theology, and he was incensed at Penn’s refusal to use traditional Trinitarian language when speaking about God. Penn, on the other hand, felt that since the word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible it can only be an incomplete, human approximation of describing God. Instead, he simply affirmed that what Scripture said was true and accepted that there were great implied mysteries that we cannot understand about the nature of God. In hindsight, Keith was right in almost all of his criticisms. But his aggressive, accusatory style (perhaps similar to some prophets of the Old Testament), refusing to dialogue with others but demanding change, got him expelled from yearly meetings, first in the United States and later in England. After that, he went back to the Church of England and worked as a vicar in a local parish until he died.
Another one of Keith’s great criticisms was that Friends rarely dealt emotionally with the gravity of their sin or with the gravity of sin in general. This criticism highlights a shift that had just begun to take place when Keith was writing in the 1690s. Early Friends had a strong emphasis on the depravity of man. In fact, Penn recalls that the name “Quaker” was originally proposed by outsiders who witnessed people literally trembling at early Friends meetings as the Holy Spirit was empowering them to turn from their lives of sin. Similarly, in 1657 when George Fox wrote about why he would not greet people saying “Good Even,” “Good Morrow,” or “God Speed” (an often forgotten element of early plain speech) he pointed out that it would be a lie to call something good when the day is obviously evil. However, by the time George Keith brought forth his complaint, Penn offered an opposite reason for the same practice. Penn claimed that early Friends could not “humor the Custom of Good Night, Good Morrow, Good Speed; for they knew the Night was Good, and the Day was Good, without wishing of either.” Here again, the schisms of the nineteenth century proved George Keith to be correct in his criticisms. Still, his aggressive, divisive style and the very early nature of the problem led to him being largely ignored. To be fair, this was not a problem across the board. Stephen Grellet, a contemporary of Elias Hicks in the early nineteenth century, spoke frequently and eloquently about the atonement of the cross. For a further exploration of the early Friends view of atonement, see Appendix Three.
To continue the discussion of the depravity of man, look at Romans 3:23 which reads, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is important to note that neither Penn nor any significant Friends minister in the Quietist period would have denied that. However, many Friends in the Quietist period did seem to almost gloss over the relevance of the historical event of the crucifixion to get to the idea of union with the risen Spirit of Christ. The idea that God is reaching out to us here and now, desiring relationship with us here and now, valuing us here and now, overshadowed the teaching on sin. In the cultural context of late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century England and America, the English Puritans and German Pietists were already emphasizing sin, so most of their contemporaries already acknowledged and felt that they were sinners. Today, however, many people deny their own sinfulness and we might do well to take some time to readjust our language to acknowledge that.
Instead of having an intellectual discussion on sin, we recommend that the group leader take some time to share his or her personal testimony of coming to know Jesus for the first time and experiencing the power of Jesus defeating sin in his or her life.
While there are many reasons to see Friends as interested in paradox, this slide is about Friends polity (church government). There are three main approaches to church polity.
The first approach, which has been dominant throughout much of church history, is often called the “Episcopal Polity.” This is a form of church government built on the idea that the hierarchy makes the decisions. In decisions that affect the movement as a whole can be decided by a council of bishops, arch-bishops, or cardinals, or the top representative (the Pope or Patriarch) can give a ruling. This is the polity that is used among Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches but also among some Pentecostal denominations.
The second is called the “Presbyterian Polity.” In this case, each of the elders of the local church has an equal vote when it is time to make decisions. The pastor of the church is generally considered an elder but still only gets one vote. Reformed churches, like Presbyterians, follow this polity but so do many other denominations, including many modern non-denominational churches.
Finally, a “Congregationalist Polity” gives every member of the congregation a vote in significant decisions. Congregationalist churches and most Baptist churches follow this system. Together, these three types of polity describe the way almost all Christian churches make decisions.
Friends do not follow any of these systems. They are sometimes thought to follow a Presbyterian polity because our churches have traditionally recognized elders. However, there are two significant differences between a Presbyterian polity and Friends practice. Both of those differences have to do with the Friends view of unity.
In the Presbyterian polity, a committee of elders is tasked with making decisions that have to do with vision and direction of the church. This is also true for most Friends churches. However, while elders at most Reformed churches vote, elders at Friends churches expect unity as they seek to discern the mind of Christ (remember these vocabulary words from Chapter One). Instead of trying to get a majority, the elders must attempt to reach complete unity, recognizing that God may be leading through any one of them. The church will not move forward until the elders are unified in agreement. Ideally, this leads a meeting of Friends elders characterized much more by elders sharing their perspectives, listening, discerning, and praying than by presenting and winning rational arguments. If an elder or two have stood in the way of consensus and delayed unity over a significant period of time, they are sometimes asked to stand aside, or stand out of the way of consensus, but this is moderately rare.
Secondly, unlike most Reformed churches, when a church is facing a significant decision, Friends have seen it as fitting to bring it before the entire congregation. However, unlike churches that follow a congregational polity, people do not vote. Instead, we recognize that God could be leading through any person who is in relationship with the Spirit of the resurrected Christ. Consequently, we seek unity from the entire meeting.
This practice relies heavily on idea that each person in the congregation trusts others in the meeting to discern the mind of Christ correctly. Sometimes a meeting will be in almost complete agreement except for one or two people who disagree with a decision. First, it is important that people in the majority really consider whether Jesus wants the church to act in their direction if they are not in total agreement. They should take a significant period of time to really consider the issue. Ultimately, individual dissenters may feel they need to stand aside and may even be asked to stand aside. This simply means a person is recognizing that, given their personal experiences and background, it may be hard for them to discern the mind of Christ in this area. They recognize publicly that they do not feel Christ leading in that direction but declare their trust that the others in the meeting are capable of discerning Christ correctly. For Friends, standing aside is a momentary objection that is followed by unity. It does not mean that a person is forever removed from the life of the church where this decision is concerned. It does not mean that this person is absolved of responsibility when the church begins to see the effects of the decision.
Since unity is required from everyone, both in the congregation and among the elders, the position of “elder” among Friends began as a lifelong recognition. Local churches would recognize certain members whose words carried more authority because their lives testified that they really knew and walked with Jesus. The idea that some Friends spoke with more weight of authority gave rise to elders among Friends being known as “weighty Friends.” This greater respect for their recognized spiritual authority did not translate into formal positional power but was nonetheless very real. Since there was no formal positional power, there was no need for a term limit. As Friends formalized the committee system for local church congregations and more decisions needed to be made by a smaller group of elders, eldership often started coming with term limits. However, the expectation that elders act in unity has continued to be a cornerstone of Friends polity.
Quakers have agreed with some other Christian movements that behaviors which exalt the individual are misguided. Yet many of the practices that have come out of this “Testimony of Simplicity” have actually served to differentiate them from other Christian groups. Like the Puritans, Pietists, and Anabaptists, early Friends wore simple black clothing. They were opposed to bright, luxurious clothing because they saw it as bringing attention to an individual. This personal attention could easily lead to vanity and pride and had the potential to pull attention and, perhaps even praise, away from God. Over time, this black standard faded to the charcoal gray that came to be associated with Quakers. Since the original purpose of wearing a single color was refusing to exalt one’s self, most Friends simply let their clothes stay gray, instead of spending money, time, and energy on making them black. Frills in clothing (quite fashionable at the time) were seen as especially frivolous, since not only the expense and effort, but the very cloth itself that went into making those extra folds could easily be used to clothe the poor. Simplicity for early Friends was about redirecting their focus from individuals (themselves or others) to God. This included the way they spent their money, valuing projects that they thought God was initiating over personal comforts or desires. While few modern Friends still dress in grays, many still hold to a form of this simple dress by refusing to wear clothing that is expensive, gaudy, that promotes a name brand, or that generally attracts attention for one reason or another.
The testimony of simple speech, which was covered in more depth in Chapter Three, is another way that they refused to give special praise to individuals. This did not mean that they failed to give credit or thank people for their good work or contributions. It meant that they avoided the trappings of society that elevated some individuals or accomplishments over others. John Bellers, a seventeenth century Quaker, tried to establish a colony where the contributions of farm workers, artisans, sellers, and politicians were all seen as equal, necessary building blocks of society.
In general, the Simplicity Testimony extended beyond just speech and dress to their whole lives. They tried to live simply, striving to reorient their lives around trusting and praising God and expanding His Kingdom for His glory.
Friends have traditionally had a very holistic view of worship. We worship God by trying to live our lives in a constant inward communion with the Spirit of Christ. Our actions demonstrate that the Spirit of Christ is living through us as we praise and speak and work and go throughout our lives. This can be clearly seen in the meeting for worship where people sit and wait for a word from the Lord on which they meditate or which they share. However, this sense of communion and worship should not stop when the Elders begin shaking hands at the end of the meeting. In fact, it should be especially present when the church meets for business. Some congregations have even called these meetings, “meeting for worship through business.” In the meeting for business, Friends consider any decision that is brought forth assuming that everyone present is listening as the Holy Spirit leads. They simply discern how to Spirit would like them to move. Friends must be diligent in listening as the Spirit could choose to provide a word of leadership through any one of the members present.
This is also the basis for the practice of seeing unity. Friends have believed that everyone present is in communion with the same Spirit of Christ. They have often said that the Spirit is not of two minds about an issue. Friends often find that an apparent contradiction can be a more nuanced leading. The Spirit may be calling the church to do something but in a way they had not previously expected or with a special sensitivity that the first person to speak of the leading might not have understood. Consequently, Friends have traditionally refused to implement a new idea until everyone in the meeting can support it. This is often seen as seeking consensus, but, as Friends have often pointed out, there is a big difference between a human consensus and a group of Christ followers coming to understand the mind of Christ.
This overall process means that for Friends, discernment is as a higher value than leadership or initiative. New ideas can come from anywhere as the Spirit of Christ prompts. The discernment to distinguish the ideas that are really from the Spirit from the good ideas that are part of a purely human agenda, whether conscious or not, is invaluable.
There is one glaring vulnerability in this process of finding the mind of Christ. It gives anyone the ability to stop changes from being made. This is often a good thing, and disasters have been averted when even a single individual has stood in the way of unity asking the meeting to listen more to the Spirit before making a decision. However, there are times when a person recognizes that they simply are not in unity with the perspective that the rest of the community seems to feel is from God. This occasionally happens when their life experience makes it difficult for them to properly discern what God is doing. When Friends recognize that they are not in unity with the group, they can choose to stand aside. This means that even though the decision seems like a bad one, they will not stand in the way of consensus and will allow the decision to move forward and will support it afterward. In rare cases, the person can request that the decision be postponed, but even this postponement is not indefinite. Most meetings have a process used when unity cannot be reached, but a decision cannot be postponed, to move forward on their best understanding of the mind of Christ.
The experience this week is meant to simulate a Friends business meeting.
Friends, like all movement, have had a few dark spots in our history. There is a great deal of which we can be proud. This handout is meant to provide group participants with both a sense of awe at how much God has used the tradition in which they now stand and also an invitation to take up the mantle of that heritage.
Baptism and Communion
Chapter Five of this curriculum is designed to guide participants through a line of reasoning that will allow them to most easily accept the reality that the practices of water baptism and communion with the elements were not strict Biblical mandates for all ages. However, there may be some participants who simply do not accept the less direct reasoning of the chapter and may object along the lines of, “Whether or not these sacraments were an early church repurposing of more ancient Jewish practices, Jesus commanded us to do them, and we should.” It is important not to let these people derail the group experience, but when the meeting has finished, it might be appropriate to share a more accurate interpretation of the relevant passages with those who have questions.
We’ll begin by dealing with baptism. There is an obvious argument to be made for baptism of the Holy Spirit. First of all, one of the main themes of the early New Testament is that while John baptized with water, Jesus would baptize His followers with the much more significant baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is one of the only things that is clearly recorded in all four gospels and is recorded two additional times in the book of Acts. John even goes so far as to deliberately point out that Jesus did not baptize anyone with water (John 4:2). In fact, there are several additional examples we could point to which make it seem like baptism into water is not particularly significant in God’s eyes: Jesus tells the thief on the cross that he will be with Him in paradise before he is ever baptized, and Cornelius is visibly baptized by the Holy Spirit before he undergoes a baptism with water (or any other Jewish ritual). Also, we have no record of any of the apostles having been baptized by water. On the other hand, Pentecost, where Jesus baptizes them with the Holy Spirit, is one of the most significant events in the New Testament.
There are three verses that are often taken against this message to prove that Jesus values not only the baptism of the Holy Spirit but also baptism with water. The first, and most significant, of these verses is the Great Commission itself. Matthew 28:18-20 reads, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (italics added) The main misunderstanding here hinges on a misunderstanding of the concept of “name” in the ancient near eastern world.
In Western culture there is a clear delineation between abstract concepts and concrete actions. This delineation was not always as clear in Jesus’ culture (and in fact is less clear in many Eastern cultures even today). For example, when God’s people were in trouble in the Old Testament, they often cried out to the Lord that He would “remember” them. They were not hoping that He would momentarily think of them, however fondly it might be, but that He would act and save them from the predicament they were facing. “Remember” was an abstract idea with implications of action in the ancient world. (In Genesis 9:15-16, “God will remember his covenant with creation.” In Exodus 20:8, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” In Judges 16:28, Sampson asks the Lord, “to remember him and give him strength.” In Nehemiah 5:19, Nehemiah asks God to, “remember the good he has done.”) In the same way, “name” was an abstract idea with an implication of action. It was not just a word people used to designate a person. A person’s name reflected the reputation of the actions for which they would be known. In the Old Testament God changes Jacob’s name to Israel to reflect His reputation. In the New Testament, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter when He wants to tell him about the actions for which he will be known. “Name” is and was a very significant concept in the ancient Near Eastern world.
For us in the West, it seems reasonable to assume that when Jesus commands us to “baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” He is proscribing a ritual. In many denominations, “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” is spoken over people when they are immersed in water. But a more accurate interpretation of Jesus’ words here is not that He is establishing a new ritual but that He is telling His apostles that when they make new disciples, the new disciples are to be baptized into His name. They are literally to cease being known by their old name, the old reputation of their actions, and they are to begin being known by the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which is to say, they will be known for doing the things that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are doing in the world. This is not describing a momentary ritual but an ongoing change of behavior and reputation that would reflect the work of God in the world. Later in Acts 10, Peter will command that Cornelius be baptized into the “name of Jesus Christ.” Peter is not instituting a new, short-form ritual, where only “in the name of Jesus Christ” need be recited while these believers are underwater. The name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is identical because the reputation that they share in the world is identical. Similarly, Peter is instructing Cornelius and the other new Gentile believers that this baptism of the Holy Spirit which they have experienced should also be accompanied by an ongoing transformation into a new reputation of Christlikeness in the world. Coincidently, this interpretation of the concept of “name” can also be applied to John 14:13 where Jesus tells His disciples that “my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name.” Jesus is not establishing a new ritual whereby the Father is obligated to provide whatever we ask for before saying, “In Jesus name, Amen.” Instead, He is reminding His disciples that the Father’s power will be manifested when they are asking for things that are in line with the reputation, or the kinds of actions, that Jesus is known for in the world.
The two remaining verses are Colossians 2:12 and Romans 6:3-4. Each of these verses deals with the idea that we have been buried with Christ by baptism into His death. What could this possibly be referencing if not the reenactment of Jesus entering the tomb by being submerged in or sprinkled with water? The answer is that it could be referring to the spiritual mystery of being united with Christ. In fact, these are the direct contexts of both passages. Romans even spells it out clearly that we are “baptized into Jesus Christ.” Many modern Christians are surprised to find it possible that Paul might have been using the baptism image to reference anything other than the water baptism ritual. However, it is actually quite common in Scripture to use baptism to speak of things other than a ritual with water. John the Baptist and Jesus both speak of a baptism of the Holy Spirit in various places (the baptism that Friends maintain is the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4). John also speaks of Jesus baptizing with fire. As noted above, we are to be baptized into the “name” of Jesus in Matthew 28 and Acts 10. It seems likely that Paul is using the word baptism to create an image that will describe the mystery of our participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Again, baptism into Jesus is essential; baptism into water is not.
The final objection to this interpretation is not biblical but historical. Many people say something along the lines of, “If your interpretations of those passages in the Bible were correct, the water baptism ritual would not have become so ubiquitous in the early church. Even the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 is baptized with water.” This objection is perhaps the easiest to answer because Friends have never argued against the usefulness of water baptism within certain cultural or historical contexts. The evidence seems fairly conclusive that in the first century church, water baptism was not seen as the method for conferring the grace of God but simply a useful tool for allowing people to express the inner reality of their baptism in the Holy Spirit. We have no evidence that Philip encouraged the Ethiopian eunuch to get baptized with water; it is the eunuch who comments that there is some water nearby and asks if he might be baptized. The Didache and the writings of Ignatius of Antioch also both emphasize the importance of a water baptism ritual as an initiation rite into the persecuted early church. Yet neither seems to imply that a special grace was conferred through the ritual. Similarly today, most Friends do not object when people express a desire to be baptized with water as long as their desire does not proceed from a belief that the ritual will confer any special grace upon them (or that it causes any real transformation in the spiritual realm or because they are obeying the command of Christ since, as we now know, that was not His command), but simply because it is their desire to glorify God in this way. In general, it is considered no more or less spiritual than taking a contemplative walk through the park, serving the family by washing dishes, or raising hands during a worship chorus. It can be a lovely way for a person to worshipfully respond to the grace that God has already conferred upon them. Friends have only refused a person’s request for baptism as a form of testifying to the truth when their specific cultural milieu seemed to be looking to the ritual of water baptism as the source of grace instead of looking to Jesus directly. In these cases, they discouraged water baptism on the grounds that it might be misleading for onlookers or, since baptism is often desired by younger believers, misleading for the participants themselves. Instead, they have historically had other ways that people can self-identity as Christ followers, which function as informal initiation rites into the movement. The reality that even by the third century Christians had already developed a theology that maintained God’s grace was conferred directly through the ritual of water baptism just shows that the healthy fear of misinterpretation was well founded.
Similarly, Friends have rejected the idea that the communion ritual is salvific. Again, the communion we emphasize is not a communion with bread and grape juice, but a spiritual communion with the Spirit of the risen Christ. Historically, Friends have seen the command to communion as being fulfilled in two significant ways. The first and most significant has been in the experience of Open Worship. In Open Worship, Friends center down and try to focus on the reality that the Spirit of Christ is meeting with them inwardly. They practice actual, active communion: listening, submission, and union with that Spirit. Second, Friends have also emphasized the communion that is experienced in the fellowship of the community of believers. There is a special type of communion that is experienced when people who are practicing an inward communion with the Spirit of the risen Christ are also sharing this life with each other. Though it is often spoken of in tones that are a bit tongue in cheek, there is a real theological foundation to the joke that Quaker potlucks are “communion in the manner of Friends.”
Yet again, group leaders may encounter some people who insist that Jesus himself commanded us to practice a ritual with bread and wine. They may believe that this is an issue of obedience. However, this is generally a statement made in ignorance of the way that the New Testament deals with the Lord’s Supper. There are four passages that deal with the communion ritual in the Bible. Three of the four are the parallel accounts of Jesus’ celebration of the Passover supper recorded in the Gospels. Interestingly, neither Matthew nor Mark record anything that could even be imagined as a recommendation from Jesus that this new symbolism should be applied to anything other than the meal they are sharing in that moment. The earliest transcripts of Luke follow Mark’s account very closely and some translations consider those copies more authoritative. Later versions of Luke include a short clause, inserted in the middle of the ceremony after Jesus passes the bread that is sometimes translated as “do this in remembrance of me.” Some have assumed that the word “do” in this passage implies an ongoing activity, but most Greek scholars disagree.
A second argument is sometimes made that the word “remembrance” implies an ongoing practice; after all, how could they remember Him while He is still there at the table? Greek scholars write that the word which is translated as “remembrance” was most often used in the context of the sacrificial system. It is the word used to describe the way that people would remember their sins and believe them to be released onto the sacrificial lamb. It is certainly a reinterpretation of the Passover meal that gives deep theological insight into the action that Jesus is about to take for us on the cross, but nowhere in this command is there an implication that Jesus intended to institute a new ongoing ritual or rite, or even that He intended people to reenact this Last Supper in different contexts. However, unlike baptism, which took a century to really become a required practice in the church, it seems like the practice of at least some form of communion was being encouraged in the early church during the lives of the apostles.
The fourth New Testament passage that deals with the last supper ritual is in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. This passage is unique in that it is the only passage in the New Testament that seems to be really prescribing a ritual for Christians to follow. The Corinthian Christians had been sharing a regular meal together but allowing it to be a source of division in their community. Paul rebukes them and gives some instructions on how they might partake in this ritual together. His instructions are pretty sparse, but he does include a condensed form of the story given in the Gospels (though he significantly expands the words of Jesus). Paul also includes the command, “do this in remembrance of me,” and includes a separate command “do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” for the wine. Paul then inserts his own comment, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Paul finally rounds this off with a warning that people not engage this ritual glibly.
The most often overlooked feature of this passage is that no part of it can be called a command to engage in the ritual. Instead, Paul seems to be saying that, if they are going to ritualize this meal, they had better take this seriously and they had better understand the spiritual reality to which the symbols are pointing. The inclusion of the phrase “as often as you drink it” even serves to confirm that the word “do” in the passage is not meant to imply an ongoing command but simply a command for the moment of the ritual. It is also significant that Paul does not describe any special grace that is being conveyed through the ritual itself but simply sets the elements up as symbols that reflect the salvific actions of Jesus on the cross. This does not conflict with the Friends view at all. Friends have never maintained that engaging some form of the communion ritual is bad unless it distracts people from the real source of grace: Jesus Christ Himself. Today, some Evangelical Friends churches practice communion, using it as a worship tool to help people emotionally enter into the experience of communion with a risen Christ who is meeting them inwardly. Others find the physical elements to be more of a hindrance than a tool. Either practice can be a faithful part of carrying on the tradition of Friends.
As with baptism, people often make an argument for the Eucharistic ritual from history. And like baptism, the ritual was quite ubiquitous in the early church. However, the earliest extra-biblical examples of it show clearly that it was seen as a symbol of the grace that had been given through Jesus and not a source of grace in itself or even a vehicle for grace. For example, the Didache offers a prayer over the bread (which is made of grain brought together from stalks all over the hills to become one loaf) that compares it to the church (made from many people called to gather into the Kingdom of God). The bread is a symbol with layered meaning, meaning that is already changing or, at the least, becoming deeper than the meaning given in Scripture. Grace comes from Jesus directly; no special grace is imparted through the bread and wine.
The Friends fear of the abuse of the ritual became a reality as early as the second century, when withholding the Eucharist became a way to consolidate social power in the hands of a few church leaders and put pressure on Gnostics and other heretics; though interestingly, the possibility that actual change was taking place in the spiritual realm as a result of the ritual was debated for centuries to come.
Schisms of the Nineteenth Century
This curriculum has intentionally chosen to downplay the nineteenth century schisms within the Friends movement. However, the group leader should have at least a basic understanding of these divisions and be able to explain them simply as people will almost certainly have some questions or misperceptions that are born of these divisions.
The first, and most significant, split happened in the eastern United States at the beginning of the nineteenth century. An itinerant Friends preacher named Elias Hicks began preaching a theology that promoted a direct, unmediated encounter with the Light Within as the sole source of authority. He rejected the authority of the Bible, though he read a great deal of Scripture and used it in his sermons. He rejected all orthodox theories of atonement and rejected the divinity of the historical Jesus, but he did look to Jesus as being our perfect human example of living a moral life. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting took five years trying to decide what to do with local meetings that accepted Hicks and embraced his teaching. Ultimately, it came to a head in 1827, when the Yearly Meeting split, half becoming “Hicksites,” and half remaining “Orthodox.” From the perspective of these Hicksites, the issue was over the inclusion of unorthodox or non-Christian ideas that arose out of the method of listening to the Inward Light in an unprogrammed meeting. They also objected to what they perceived as an authoritarian discipline exercised by Friends leadership in the urban centers. After the split, the remaining Friends rebranded themselves as “Orthodox,” meaning they embraced orthodox atonement theology and the authority of the Bible.
The Hicksite/Orthodox division in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was followed by similar splits throughout the United States. New England and New York Yearly Meetings split heavily in favor of Hicks. North Carolina and the Midwestern Yearly Meetings remained mostly Orthodox. Other meetings were closer to an even split.
A second major division happened in 1842, dividing the Orthodox Friends into Gurneyites and Wilburites. This division did not happen abruptly, but arose slowly over a period of more than a decade. It began when a British Friends minister named Joseph John Gurney made a speaking tour of the United States in the late 1830s. He was a charismatic speaker and writer as well as being a prominent, wealthy member of the highest society. His advice moved a significant majority of Orthodox Friends and was even considered in the world beyond Friends. His advice was far reaching (his impact was so far reaching that after his death Gurney’s wife would become an advisor by correspondence of Abraham Lincoln). He was an ardent abolitionist. He advocated prison reform (and along with his sister, Elizabeth Fry, was successful in bringing about significant reform in England). He encouraged abstinence from alcohol and supported the holiness code of the Methodists. He spoke out against capital punishment. Most of all, he wrote theology and advocated a strong Evangelical perspective on the Bible.
Practically speaking, Gurney spearheaded two significant changes among American Orthodox Friends. The first was the creation of “first day schools.” These were gatherings outside of the meeting for worship, specifically designed to create space for people to study the Bible. The second was the trend that Friends began more and more to cooperate with other Evangelical Christians in pursuing common goals. This played out some in the Friends participation in social organizations (like abolition societies or organizations to support Native Americans). But it was more significant in that it allowed Friends to get involved in the evangelistic revival campaigns that were sweeping the nation at the time. Before this, Friends approached Christians of other denominations with heavy skepticism. But if they were willing to work with other revivalist groups, they found that the number of people who were coming to Christ through their efforts greatly increased (the number of people joining Friends Churches, however, did not greatly increase).
However, as Friends increased their participation in the evangelistic efforts of other Christian groups, they began taking on more and more of the non-Quaker practices. They felt more comfortable with a greater level or organization and programming in their services. They grew more lax on some of the strict testimonies of Friends (some stopped using simple speech or simple dress, for example). This created a backlash from among Orthodox Friends by a group following a minister named John Wilbur. In 1842, Wilbur led divisions in three midwestern Yearly Meetings where a group broke off to stand against these modernizing changes. These “Conservative Friends” or Wilburite Friends were theologically orthodox but they stayed true to the unprogrammed forms of worship, to simple dress and simple speech and to a traditionally Friends testimony and way of life.
The last great schism began in 1926 when Oregon Yearly Meeting branched off from the remaining association of Orthodox (or Gurneyite) Friends Yearly Meetings. They felt that the group was following the dominant American culture into secular modernism and embracing American mainline theology to the point where they compromised the testimony Friends had always had, relying on the authority of Scripture as well as the unmediated revelation of Jesus. Five other Yearly Meetings (Kansas, now called Mid-America; Ohio, now called Eastern Region; Rocky Mountain; and, eventually, Alaska and Southwest) joined them to form the association now known as Evangelical Friends Church International.
Today, the descendants of the Hicksite Yearly Meetings are organized in a group called Friends General Conference. They are found mostly on the East Coast of the United States. While many of them are Christ followers, by and large they do not see Quakerism as a Christian religion but as an outpouring of the practice of seeking God inwardly through unprogrammed worship. It is not uncommon to find Quaker Buddhists, Quaker Hindus, Quaker Spiritualists, or even Quaker Neo-pagans. A few liberal yearly meetings in the Western United States are ideologically similar to FGC while remaining “independent” for historical or political reasons. Many people who only know of Quakers only from these FGC or Independent Yearly Meetings are surprised to find that the Friends movement has historically been a Christian movement and that the vast majority of Quakers are Christians today.
There is only one remaining Wilburite Yearly Meeting: Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative). They have continued holding unprogrammed meetings and maintaining a high view of both the authority of Scripture and of the direct unmediated revelation. Some individuals still practice simple dress and speech.
The non-Evangelical Gurneyite Yearly Meetings have been organized into a loose association called Friends United Meeting. They are the largest group, encompassing some yearly meetings that have a very strong, Christian identity on one end, while also allowing double membership for most of the Friends General Conference Yearly Meetings. In the United States, they are most prominent in the Midwest.
Finally, there are still six yearly meetings in Evangelical Friends Church - North America. They combine elements of traditional Friends heritage with modern Evangelical worship styles.
A Note on the Friends View of Atonement
One of the things that set Friends apart from their contemporaries in Western Europe was their theology of the atonement. For people from some Evangelical backgrounds, this may be a difficult conversation. Early Friends are generally considered to be Arminians. They believed that Jesus “died for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9), not just the elect, and that we are saved by choosing to believe in Him (John 3:16), not by being chosen by God against our will.
Early Friends saw people in their sinful state as being utterly depraved and separated from God. However, they believed that God, through the death of Jesus on the cross, had provided a mechanism for their sins to be forgiven and to be reconciled to God. This reconciliation with God was vital for early Friends; it was the essence of salvation. Forgiveness of sins, they would have said, is not the point of the gospel; it is only a stepping stone on the road to reconciliation with God. Furthermore, if a person was reconciled with God through the death and resurrection of Christ, their old self was dead with Christ, and their new life was lived by having the resurrected Jesus live through them. This idea is similar to what many people mean when they say that that the end goal of the gospel is having a “personal relationship with Jesus.”
There were two immediate objections to this. The first was that Friends were falling into a new version of fourth century Pelagian heresy (the belief that people are essentially good and have the potential to live sinless lives with no need for a savior). Most Christians from Reformation traditions, which comprised most of the population of England at the time, insisted that a person’s participation in the right rituals and their assent to the right doctrines was what was needed to go to heaven. Personal righteousness was valuable but had nothing to do with a person’s salvation. By contrast, Catholics maintained that accruing righteous actions that could be attributed to their account (which could include the righteous actions of Christ and the saints) was needed to be balanced against their sinfulness. Since Friends held that salvation was an issue of being reconciled to God, living out Christ’s life in the world, not just an issue of the forgiveness of sins, they insisted that a person needed to demonstrate a transformed life to know that they were saved. If a person claimed to be saved, but did not demonstrate a transformed life, early Friends would focus on trying to introduce them to Jesus (even if they were already members of the religious elite). Thus, many people from Reformation traditions accused Friends of Pelagianism.
Furthermore, early Friends actually ratcheted up the tension with frequent talk about a Christian Perfection that they believed was attainable in this life. However, unlike classical Pelagianism which also dealt with perfection, they did not see perfection as something possible in the natural state of a person. Instead, they taught that as a person learned to live more and more in the death and resurrection of Jesus (learning to let His death on the cross put our sin natures to death, and learning to live more and more within His resurrected life), Jesus’ perfection would be lived out in us more and more completely. They taught that it could be possible for a person to be so overcome by Christ that they lived completely in the perfect life of Christ, thus attaining a form Christian Perfection, even this side of Heaven. They also did not claim that this perfection was static but that a person who had achieved it would still continue to grow more and more into Christ-likeness for eternity. However, none of them claimed to have achieved this, only that they thought it was possible and that they strove for it.
Later on, after the 1822 Hicksite division, some Friends would preach a version of Christian Perfection that was more like classical Palagianism. Later still, during the Third Great Awakening in the United States, many Orthodox Friends became heavily influenced by a newer version of Christian Perfection inspired by the Holiness Movement and claimed to have experienced an immediate sanctification as a result of a “second work of grace” in their lives.
The second main objection was that early Friends were Universalists, believing that if Jesus died for everyone, everyone would go to heaven when they died. This was simply untrue as early Friends affirmed the idea that if a person rebuffed the advances of the Inward Light of Christ (if they rejected God’s attempt to reach out to them), they would go to hell. However, this objection is a little easier to understand as they did hold a non-traditional perspective on heaven and hell that was confusing for many of their contemporaries. In theological jargon, they were soteriological inclusivists. This means that they believed people could enter into the death and resurrection of Jesus without having a specific knowledge of who He was as a historical person or what He did on the cross. This had a huge influence on the way they looked at Native Americans who had never heard the name of Jesus. Friends missionaries saw them not as hell-bound savages without any knowledge of God but as people who were already reaching out to God and to whom God was already reaching towards. The problem in their eyes was that Native Americans just did not know Him by His right name and had yet to learn what His Son Jesus had done for them on the cross (even though they may have already experienced the spiritual reality of redemption that Jesus had won for them on the cross). John 1:9 and Titus 2:11 were significant proof texts used by early Friends to support this view. Later on, some Hicksite Friends would push this view a step further adopting a position that really was Universalist. However, it would be anachronistic to apply this position to early Friends and inappropriate to apply it to orthodox Friends in general.
Here are a few quotes from Robert Barclay that demonstrate the early Friends view:
“All of the descendants of Adam, that is, all of mankind, are in a fallen, demoralized and deadened state. … Not only their words and deeds, but their thoughts are evil in the sight of God while they remain in this state. In this state man can know nothing correctly.”
“Since all men except Jesus have sinned if they have reached man’s estate, they need this Savior to remove the wrath of God which they have incurred by these offences. In this respect, he truly bore all of our iniquities in his body on the tree. Therefore, he alone is our Mediator who has qualified the wrath of God toward us. Our former sins have been removed and pardoned and no longer stand in our way because of the complete satisfaction of his sacrifice. There is no other way whatsoever to seek remission of sins, whether it be works or sacrifices.”
“We have become united with him as the branches with the vine, and we have a title and a right to what he has done and suffered for us. His obedience becomes ours, his righteousness ours, his death and suffering ours.”
Or as George Fox put it, “This Jesus, who was the foundation of the holy prophets and apostles, is our foundation; and we believe that there is no other foundation to be laid than that which is laid, even Christ Jesus; who tasted death for every man, shed his blood for all men, and is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Reference List & Other Resources
Baker, Nicholson, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008.
Barbor, Hugh and J. William Frost, The Quakers. Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1994.
Barclay, Robert, Barclay’s Apology in Modern English, ed. Dean Freiday. Philadelphia, PA: Hemlock Press, 1967.
Booy, David, Autobiographical Writings of Early Quaker Women. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2004.
Evangelical Friends Church Southwest, Faith and Practice of Evangelical Friends Church Southwest. Whittier, CA: Evangelical Friends Church Southwest, 2001.
Greenwood, John Ormerod, Quaker Encounters: Volume 1 Friends and Relief. York, England: William Sessions Limited. 1975.
Grellet, Stephen, Memoirs of the Life and Gospel Labors of Stephen Grellet, ed. Benjamin Seebohm. Philadelphia, PA: Book Association of Friends, 1870.
Gurney, Joseph John, A Peculiar People: The Rediscovery of Primitive Christianity. Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1979.
Hamm, Thomas, Quaker Writings: An Anthology 1650 – 1920. London: Penguin, 2011.
Jones, Rufus M., The Journal of George Fox. Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1976.
Jones, Lester M., Quakers in Action: Recent Humanitarian and Reform Activities of the American Quakers. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1929.
Jorns, Auguste, The Quakers as Pioneers in Social Work. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, Inc., 1931.
Kelly, Charles M., A Little Apology: The Gist of Barclay’s. Newberg: OR: Barclay Press, 1964.
Kelsey, Rayner Wickersham, Friends and the Indians 1655-1917. Philadelphia, PA: The Associated Executive Committee of Friends on Indian Affairs, 1917.
Oliver, John W. Jr., Charles L. Cherry, Caroline L. Cherry, Founded by Friends: The Quaker Heritage of Fifteen American Colleges and Universities. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2007.
Penn, William, Works. Seattle, WA: The Perfect Library, 2013.
Spencer, Carol Dale, Holiness: The Soul of Quakerism: An Historical Analysis of the Theology of Holiness in the Quaker Tradition. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2007.
Trueblood, D. Elton, The People Called Quakers. Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1985.
Williams, Walter R., Rich Heritage of Quakerism. Newberg, OR: Barclay Press, 1987.
Useful Articles from the Internet
Bryn Mawr College. “Friendly Association Papers.” http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/HC_Friendly
(Check this out for a brief explanation of the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures.)
Bryn Mawr College. “Quakers and the Underground Railroad: Myths and Realities.” http://trilogy.brynmawr.edu/speccoll/quakersandslavery/commentary/organizations/underground_railroad.php
(Check this out for a great little article on the Friends involvement in the Underground Railroad.)
Carolana.com. “The Split – One Colony Becomes Two.” http://www.carolana.com/Carolina/thesplit.html
(Check this out for more information on John Archdale’s influence in Carolina.)
Eames, David, “Whittier Was a Gentle Poet, Fiery Abolitionist, and Political Persuader.” https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=19911002&id=yd9LAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PIsDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6768,5363210&hl=en
(Check this out for a newspaper article on John Greenleaf Whittier.)
Native American Netroots. “Quakers and Indians.” http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/870
(Check this out for a concise article on the Friends work with Native Americans.)
Pfann, Stephen J., “The Essene Yearly Renewal Ceremony and the Baptism of Repentance.” http://www.uhl.ac/files/9913/3527/0227/Baptism.pdf
(Check this out for an interesting article on Baptism in the Essene community.)
Quaker Historical Lexicon. “Friends of What?” https://quakerlexicon.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/friends-of-what/#comment-4111
(Check this out for more on the early uses of the name “Friends.”)
Quaker Oats. “Quaker History.” http://www.quakeroats.com/about-quaker-oats/content/quaker-history.aspx
(Check this out for a brief history of the iconic image of the Quaker Oats man.)
Quakers in the World. “Benjamin Lay.” http://www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/61
(Check this out for more on Benjamin Lay.)