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
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
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.
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
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
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
Hebrew Bible Course
New Testament course.doc
Both of the above courses were
developed and taught at Westtown School in 2001-2.