Religion: QUAKERISM (FRIENDS/QUAKERS). Protestant
Protestant, Religion Protestant, Protestant Religion. Christianity.QUAKERISM (FRIENDS/QUAKERS):
This prophetic-mystical movement developed in England around George Fox (1624-91) and his teaching and preaching. His followers first called themselves “children of the light” or simply “friends” – based on Jesus' words to his disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14) – and later corporately took the name of the “Religious Society of Friends”. “Quakers” was an early derisive nickname, associated with the tremblings of the Friends at their meetings. No longer considered derisive, this title is now also used by Friends of themselves.
Fox was convinced that the church* had become apostate, and even reformation “in root and branch” could not re-capture the authentic Christian community of the 1st century. So beginning again on early apostolic beliefs, Fox erected a church. It would depend directly on the risen Lord, and its members would function equally without mediation or rite and clergy but with the biblical gifts of the Spirit and the “inward light of Christ” – men and women equally under the direct headship of Christ. Friends' meetings for worship or for business held the holy expectancy that Christ would be in the midst wherever “two or three are gathered” in his name (Matt. 18:20), inspiring them to speak, enabling life to be transformed and empowering ministries to the world with the same self-giving love that he bore on the cross.
In 1676, Robert Barclay published (in Latin) Apology for the True Christian Divinity , which has never been displaced as the standard systematic treatment of Quaker theology.
The Quakers' early resistance in England to civil laws of religion that included oaths and marks of civil deference and to military service made the Friends targets of legal and popular oppression and imprisonment; more than 400 died from the lack of sanitation. Many fled to the American colonies. The majority sought refuge in Pennsylvania under William Penn (1644-1718), himself a Quaker. Elsewhere several Friends were persecuted; four were hung for religious dissension in Boston, 1659-61.
Social action is characteristic of the Friends. They “have been more concerned with the here and now than with the hereafter. They have sought in many different ways to improve the societies in which they live – locally, nationally, and internationally.” They look to the time when God's kingdom will come and his will be done; meanwhile, they are summoned “to exhibit to the world a kingdom mind-set, kingdom values and a kingdom life-style”. They are to be “the authentic counter-culture of a better way, the only way that holds true hope and the promise of life for humankind”. And they feel “the terrible pull of the unlimited liability for one another which the New Testament ethic lays upon them” (Douglas Steere).