While I was at QUIP a few weeks back a woman asked the youth editorial board if we had Quaker patron saints. I’m not sure if that’s the actual phrase she put it in, but it works. I’ve added the non- just so we all know that, of course, there are no Quaker saints! But still, who is, or are, your patron Quaker saints?
By this I mean at least one of two things (but you can add more):
- A Quaker you find to be important in your spiritual development and Christian formation.
- A Quaker who is theologically profound for your thinking
Yes, of course, I have mixed motives here. I’ve been thinking about this question for my own good as well. In academia there is often a focus on a few key persons who you develop your own theories, and ideas around. I’ve got a handful of people outside the Quaker tradition I go to in a pinch, but I got to thinking who are the Quakers I turn to for theological help?
Part of the problem is that we don’t have a lot of “big time” theologians in the tradition; something we’ve talked about before. This is to say, theological texts aren’t necessarily readily available, and are in limited order (we have an unlimited amount of journals, spirituality, etc), but I’m also not saying they aren’t there. In some ways, this “problem” could in fact be an answer, it helps narrow the field of choices. It also is good cause to dig deeper. Quakers all know there’s plenty of theological writing to go around for a tradition that doesn’t purposefully set out cultivate theologians, and so I think there’s hope of finding a couple key thinkers who I theologically (as well as personally and spiritually) connect with. One main question I have is are there early Friends who are an undiscovered resource for our contemporary questions?
While I am on the lookout for new voices to engage with I also realize there have been a number of very important Quaker theologians who have already helped to carve my path:
- Robert Barclay
- Elton Trueblood
- Pink Dandelion
- Everett Cattell
- Douglas Gwyn
- John Punshon
As I write these out I realize they’re all men, but my search is not over, I hope to diversify my repertoire a bit more! Anyways, how about you?