The convictions of the First Friends were what ordered their theo-political imagination (as Cavanugh calls it). This ‘imagination’ guided their practice, their missionary-inspired anti-Constantinian message that Christ had retunred and is the head of the church. The head of the church is not the state, it’s not learned clergy, but Christ alone. The Quaker narrative is not complete without this realization. Their convictions drew on something else, looked back to something other which sought to reinstate the reality of Gods Kingdom here and now. When we seek to simply reinstate, or draw on the origins of Quakerism, or our other traditions, we forego, even silence, the actual well-spring, the experience that these First generation Friends drew on. If we miss this, we run the risk of silencing the essential feature of their message; early Quakerism saw itself as restoring early Christianity. As a result, if this is ignored we’ll continue to struggle to find a Quakerism with the force and motivation of early Friends; we’ll flounder as we try to have a Quakerism worth believing in.
…is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a “released minister” at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.View all posts by Wess