Thomas D. Hamm (Earlham College) argues that a self-conscious, liberal Quakerism emerged in North America between 1790 and 1920. It had three characteristics. The first was a commitment to liberty of conscience. The second was pronounced doubts about orthodox beliefs, such as the divinity of Christ. Finally, liberal Friends saw themselves as holding beliefs fully consistent with early Quakerism. Stirrings appeared as early as the 1790s. Hicksite Friends in the 1820s, although perceiving themselves as traditionalists, manifested all of these characteristics. When other Hicksites took such stances in even more radical directions after 1830, however, bitter divisions ensued. Orthodox Friends were slower to develop liberal thought. It emerged after 1870, as higher education became central to the Gurneyite branch of Orthodox Quakerism, and as some Gurneyites responded to influences in the larger society, and to the changes introduced by the advent of revivalism, by embracing modernist Protestantism.
This work brings the fields of Christian theologies of atonement and reconciliation and Liberal Quaker theology into dialogue, and lays the foundation for developing an original Liberal Quaker reconciliation theology. This dialogue focuses specifically on the metaphorical language employed to describe the relationship of interdependence between humans and God, which both traditions hold as integral to their conceptions of human and divine existence. It focuses on these areas: the sin of human division and exclusion; atonement and reunification of humans and God as a response to sin; and the metaphors Liberal Quaker use to describe this interdependent relationship, specifically the metaphor of Light. This unique approach develops an original model of reconciliatory interdependence between humans and God that is rooted in both Christological and Universalist Liberal Quaker metaphorical and theological categories and utilizes the Liberal Quaker language of God as interdependent Light towards a new theology.
Quakerism emerged in the seventeenth century, during a time when philosophical debates about the nature of knowledge led to the emergence of modern science. The Quakers, in some conversation with early modern philosophers, developed a distinctive epistemology rooted in their concept of the Light Within, which functioned as a special internal sense giving access to divine insight. The Light Within provided illumination both to properly understand the Bible and to ‘read’ the Book of Nature. This epistemology can be thought of as an expanded experiential empiricism that integrates our ethical and religious knowledge with our scientific knowledge. This epistemology has carried through in Quaker thought to the present day and can be helpful in the context of today’s epistemological crisis.
This work is a sociological study of Quakers, which investigates the impact that sectarianism has had on identity construction within the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland. The research highlights individual Friends’ complex and hybrid cultural, national and theological identities, mirrored by the Society’s corporate identity. This publication focuses specifically on examples of political and theological hybridity. These hybrid identities resulted in tensions that impact on relationships between Friends and the wider organisation. How Friends negotiate and accommodate these diverse identities is explored. It is argued that Irish Quakers prioritise ‘relational unity’ and have developed a distinctive approach to complex identity management. It is asserted that in the two Irish states, ‘Quaker’ represents a meta-identity, which is counter-cultural in its non-sectarianism, although this is more problematic within the organisation. Furthermore, by modelling an alternative, non-sectarian identity, Quakers in Ireland contribute to building capacity for transformation from oppositional, binary identities to more fluid and inclusive ones.
In this introductory volume to Brill’s series on Quaker Studies, Quaker Studies, An Overview: The Current State of the Field, C. Wess Daniels, Robynne Rogers Healey, and Jon Kershner investigate Quaker Studies, divided into the three fields of history, theology and philosophy, and sociology.
With a focus on schisms, transatlantic networks, colonialism, abolition, gender and equality, and pacifism from Quaker origins onward, Healey explores the rich diversity and complexity of research and interpretation that has emerged in Quaker history.
In his chapter, Kershner explores comparisons and divergences in contemporary Quaker theology and philosophy. Special attention is paid to Quaker biblical hermeneutics, mysticism, ethics, epistemology and Global Quakerism.
Daniels looks at the sociology of Quakerism as a new field of study that has only recently begun to be explored and developed. This chapter surveys the field of sociological work done within Quakerism from the 1960s to the present day.
This wide-ranging and fascinating series supplements a growing catalogue of historical, sociological, and theological scholarship in the thriving and interdisciplinary field of Quaker Studies. Individual articles will speak to the broad spectrum of Quaker belief and practice, to the significance of the history of Quaker traditions, and to the many areas in which Quaker Studies contributes to other fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Work on Quakerism impacts both wider church history and theological debate, as well as current themes in the sociology of religion. The Quaker attitude to spiritual equality also engages women’s studies scholars, and the Quaker commitment to peace and social justice relates to wider issues of political theory and peace studies. As the field of Quaker Studies continues to grow and redefine itself, this series will make a significant contribution to making up-to-date scholarship accessible to specialists as well as to a broad academic community.