Prophecy and Social Testimonies
"Prophecy" is the traditional term used to describe witness and action that point towards God's vision of how human communities could live together - and the sharp contrast with the values and institutions of our world today.
Resources on Prophecy
Five Dimensions of Prophecy. This is an adaptation of an earlier article by two Catholic priests on interfaith work for economic justice.
"Testimonies" is the
term that Quakers use to refer to the widely-held positions that the Religious
Society of Friends holds on how Friends should live and also positions that
Friends take on important public social issues. There is no definitive
list of these testimonies but a widely used list is:
Peace - opposition to violence and especially participation
in wars. George Fox wrote in 1651 that "I told (the Commonwealth Commissioners) I lived in the virtue of that life
and power that took away the occasion of all wars and I knew from whence all
wars did rise, from the lust, according to James's doctrine... I told them I
was come into the covenant of peace which was before wars and strifes were." (See James 4:1-2)
Equality - Friends were revolutionary in having women taking
an active co-equal role by women in church government and preaching during the
17th century. Friends did not immediately recognize the inconsistency of
slavery with their belief in "that of God in every person" but later
became active opponents of slavery and racism. More recently Friends have
also worked to oppose inequality based on social class, disabilities or sexual
Integrity - This testimony deals with honesty and the need
for consistency between beliefs and lifestyle. Early Friends took
terribly seriously Jesus' admonition to "let your yea be yea and your nay
be nay". Thousands were imprisoned for their unwillingness to take
loyalty oaths of various kinds (against the exiled king, against the Pope, for
the restored king, etc.) Often when they were released from prison they
were tendered the same oath and ended right back in prison. Many died
Simplicity - This heart of this testimony is to stay clear of
activities that interfere with one' ability to discern God's voice. Early
Friends resisted fancy clothes, music, plays, and what they considered to be
"pagan" holidays like Christmas. John Woolman cut back his
business when he felt it was interfering with his faithfulness. Modern Friends
are often concerned about the potentially spiritually damaging effects of TV,
video games, and addictions of all kinds including over-involvement in work.
Earthcare refers to
the need to turn away from the many ways in which human overconsumption and
callousness is threatening our planet.
Here are some of Peter's writings on
Richmond Declaration on the Draft was a corporate statement
agreed upon at the National Friends Conference on the Draft & Conscription
that offered strong support to Friends taking the noncooperator stance, as I
did, in response to the Vietnam-era draft. (I was on the drafting
committee that prepared this declaration.)
Corporate Discipline & Individual Leading is an article that
originally wrote after appearing in a panel at the Friends and the Vietnam War
conference held at Bryn Mawr in 1998. It focuses on the ways in which
meetings have - and have not! - acted together as a body to support our
testimonies against war and for social justice.
Challenge Jesus proclaimed "good news to the poor" when
he embarked on his ministry 2000 years ago in Palestine. I wondered whether the
new millenium would be good news for the world's poor today? A shorter version of
this reflection was printed in Quaker Life
Jubilee: Proclaim Liberty Through Out the Land was written in preparation for the 2010 annual sessions of New England Yearly Meeting. NEYM's 350th year was dedicated as "jubilee year" for our YM and the usual business of annual sessions were set aside to help us hear God's call for us today.
This Is Our
Testimony is a curriculum I developed as a 7 week course that I taught
for many meetings in Philadelphia YM.
Facing Fears of Shared Accountability is a reflection in response to a called session of Philadelphia YM on the subject of climate change.
Nonviolent Fighters for Bangladesh Freedom is an article by Richard K. Taylor (a member of Philadelphia YM) on the use of nonviolent direct action by members of Movement for a New Society, a movement started by Friends in the 1970's to promote fundamental social change through nonviolent action. I (Peter) was also involved in MNS, although not this particular action.