The Bible

Early Friends were extremely familiar with the Bible and relied on it heavily for inspiration and guidance.  This is strikingly evident in their testimony against taking oaths, which probably led to more imprisonment than any other position taken by Friends.  Friends constantly referred to Jesus' admonition in Matthew 5:33-7 and to similar passages in James.

Friends did not, however, believe that the Bible was the "Word of God".  They felt that it was impossible to understand the meaning of the Bible if one did not live in the "life and power in which the scriptures were given forth."  Fell wrote of hearing Fox speak for the first time:

And then he went on, and opened the scriptures, and said "The scriptures were the prophets' words, and Christ's and the apostles' words, and what as they spoke they enjoyed and possessed and had it from the Lord."

And said, "Then what had any to do with the scriptures but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth? You will say, Christ saith this, and the apostles say this, but what canst thou say? Art thou a Child of Light, and hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is inwardly from God, etc. ?"

This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart, and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat me down in my pew again, and cried bitterly : and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, "We are all thieves, we are all thieves, we have take the scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves."

Conservative Friends today.  Jack Smith discussed these issues in detail in a wonderful talk he gave on The Scriptures as Understood & Used by Conservative Friends at Quaker Spring in 2007.

Bible Study at Quaker Spring.  Too often from what I have seen Friends today when they do study the Bible enter into an intellectual exploration of what the passage being studied is about.  At Quaker Spring, two different approaches to morning Bible study have been used over the years that are very different than this intellectual or aczdemic approach. On some mornings we do Bible reading out of silence, where participants lift up passages that are "given to them" to share with the group.  No introduction or comments are made: those present just allow these passages to speak in their heart. 

The second approach we have used on other days is to reflect deeply together on a particular section of the Bible that someone present feels led to bring to us.  Someone in the group reads a verse or two from the section we are focusing on.  There is a period where anyone present can share what the passage is saying to them in the moment.  The idea is not to talk about the passage (e.g. what the biblical writers meant or intended or what the passage is about or other passages dealing with simllar issues) but to allow God to work in our hearts now through the words read.  When the group is ready, one or more additional verses are read.  At the 2011 gathering on one morning we only made it through two verses!  Here are the passages that were read at Bible study times in 2011.

A Sermon:

Our Hope for New Life was given by Debbie Humphries to Allen's Neck Meeting. It is on the theme of resurrection & life after death based on 1 Cor. 15:12-19.


The Biblical Roots of Quaker Worship explores a variety of passages in the Bible beginning with John 4:19-24 that undergird waiting worship and spirit-led prophetic vocal ministry.  Includes an appendix with a summary of additional citations used by Barclay in the 10th proposition "Concerning Worship" from his Apology.

Healing the Male Heart: The Beatitudes as Radical Model for Masculinity describes Jesus' revolutionary message of Matthew 5:1-12 focusing especially on the new kind of spirituality that he offers to men today. 

Healing the Male Spirit.pdf

Christ's Jubilee Challenge
on the concept of jubilee found originally in Leviticus 25 and then picked up in the messianic prophecies in Isaiah 61:1-2, which Jesus read in the synagogue in Nazareth right at the outset of his ministry in Luke 4:14-21. 

Jubilee: Proclaim Liberty Through Out the Land deals with the same issues and passages. This article was written for New England Friend in preparation for the 350th session of NEYM focusing on jubilee.

Teaching Resources:

Hebrew Bible Course

New Testament Course

New Testament course.doc

Both of the above courses were developed and taught at Westtown School in 2001-2.

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Quote that speaks to me

Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies

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They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it.  
Death cannot kill what never dies.  
Nor can spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same Divine Principle; the Root and Record of their friendship.
If absence be not death, neither is theirs.  
Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.  
For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent.
In this Divine Glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure.
This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.
 - William Penn, More Fruits of Solitude, 1702.

Note: This passage was quoted by J.K.Rowling as the epigraph of her novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Braithwaite on Outreach

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Men & Women with a Message of Power

It is as a "religion of life" that Quakerism will be presented in the future and is being presented now.

Its distinguishing note will be its resolve to bring all this human life of ours under the transforming power of spiritual life.  It will stand out against all divisions and compartments that separate the sacred from the secular, the sanctuary from the outward world of nature, the sacrament from the days' common work, the clergy from the laity. 

It will tell of a Christian experience that makes all life sacred and all days holy, all nature a sanctuary, all work a sacrament, and gives to every man and woman in the body fit place and service.  Its concern will be to multiply men and women who will have a message of power because they are themselves the children of light.  It will claim the whole of man's life, and the whole of life, individual, social, national international, for the dominion of the will of God.

William C. Braithwaite and Henry T. Hodgkin, The Message and Mission of Quakerism (Philadelphia, Winston, 1912), 25-26.

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