Many Quakers who reached maturity towards the end of the nineteenth century found that their parents’ religion had lost its connection with reality. New discoveries in science and biblical research called for new approaches to Christian faith. Evangelical beliefs dominant among nineteenth-century Quakers were now found wanting, especially those emphasising the supreme authority of the Bible and doctrines of atonement whereby the wrath of God is appeased through the blood of Christ. Liberal Quakers sought a renewed sense of reality in their faith through recovering the vision of the first Quakers with their sense of the Light of God within each person. They also borrowed from mainstream liberal theology new attitudes to God, nature and service to society. The ensuing Quaker Renaissance found its voice at the Manchester Conference of 1895, and the educational initiatives which followed gave to British Quakerism an active faith fit for the testing reality of the twentieth century.
This publication explores the changes and continuities in liberal Quaker theology over the long twentieth century (1895 to 2019) in multiple English-speaking Quaker communities around the world. A close analysis is conducted of Quaker theologising through multiple modes: formal, corporate methods; material produced by individuals and small groups within Quaker communities; and writing by individuals and small groups working primarily within academic or ecumenical theological settings. It is concluded that although liberal Quaker theology is diverse and flexible, it also possesses a core coherence and can meaningfully be discussed as a single tradition. At the centre of liberal Quaker theology is the belief that direct, unmediated contact with the Divine is possible and results in useful guidance.
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.
This chapter commences with the observation that Pentecostals historically have never been particularly engaged social or politically despite the social challenges faced by their communities. Largely this was because of their focus on their hope for the ultimate resolution of eternity to be too deeply and systematically concerned with the hardships faced in the here and now. Furthermore, they were concerned that engagement with any sort of ‘social gospel’ would distract them from their central call to preach the ‘full gospel’ salvation. The chapter explores the sea change in which Pentecostals megachurches endorsed social activism via the rise of ‘progressive Pentecostals’ and what this has entailed.
This chapter seeks to understand the growth and dynamics of Calvary Temple (CT), a megachurch founded by Rev Satish Kumar in India. The chapter argues that growth and significance can be understood in terms of the multi-faceted processes of globalisation and in particular: global, ‘glocal’ and local factors. In analysing these three factors, I suggest that the global factor seems to have taken centre stage in recent times because CT’s phenomenal growth has given it a voice in the global arena – both amongst the fraternity of Pentecostal churches as well as with US Christian politicians who hold religious freedom close to their hearts.
This chapter argues that, contrary to commonly accepted views, megachurches enjoy a long history in Protestantism. That history can, for example, be traced to the sixteenth century Huguenot architect Jacques Perret who revealed the early Protestant vision for a large, multi-functional worship space which was eventually realised. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries further connections between present day megachurches and the past came with revivalism which provided the motivation for Protestants reach the masses and the Institutional Church Movement that created the infrastructure. The chapter also considers the demographic shifts that occurred following wwii, leading to the proliferation of megachurches in post-war America.
This chapter details the central place that revivalism has in the success and advocacy of megachurches. Invariably the emphasis is on that fragmented movement which has emphasised revivalism, that is, Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement (neo-Pentecostal) which has given birth to a number of unique but over-lapping ‘streams’. The chapter commences with definitions of revivalism before considering the evidence of church growth under the activities and theology of the movement and provides examples of some major revivals with a particularly focus on those of the late twentieth -early twenty-first century.