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Test the Spirits: An Address to North Carolina Quaker Elders Conference

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already”. 1John 4:1-3

Ministers and Elders cannot escape the responsibility of spiritual discernment. To avoid it is to assume an emblem of the false prophets. They refuse God’s command to make a distinction between righteousness and wickedness. Instead they blur that distinction and extenuate rather than challenge sin.  There is no refuge in refusing this difficult work because, as Paul says, those who stand by are just as worthy of death as those under judgment.[2]  God treats their silence as approval.  So there is no escaping discernment but we dare not think it easy. There are many ways we can go awry.

Quakers of old exercised discernment in a way that involved tossing people out for reasons that today we would find frivolous such as superfluous buttons, wrong colored clothing, resorting to a magician, or marrying a Presbyterian.  But if 18th-century and 19th-century Friends were too exacting we stand at the opposite extreme.  What would a Quaker have to do today to initiate disciplinary procedures in a meeting?  It never happens, though the occasion be not lacking.  A family, a school, a society that operates that way cannot be healthy. The Church, which ought to furnish the example of good order, has abdicated its disciplinary responsibility, through disuse, to the secular world.

Our practice of spiritual discernment, or lack thereof, reflects a deeper contradiction. I have taught sixty Introduction to Philosophy classes in the last eighteen years and each of those classes has included a section on religious experience. I always ask the students if they believe that experiencing God is possible. They always say yes with no dissent. Then I ask them, “Are all claims to religious experience are genuine?” At that point things normally come to a halt. In at least fifty-eight of those sixty classes someone has responded, “Who am I to say? It might be true for them even if it’s not true for me.” The first few times that happened surprised me since I teach in a conservative Christian college, but I have now learned to expect it. I generally put the pressure on at that point. I offer to them some of the most notoriously doubtful claims to religious experience; for instance Jim Jones, David Koresh, or Oral Roberts on the day when he said God told him to tell us to give him millions of dollars and if we didn’t God was going to kill him. The students easily produce a list of similar suspect claims. Then I ask them for a list of claims they would all agree are true. They can usually do that. Then I ask them, “Okay, now tell me how you can tell the difference between the true and the false?” The response to that question is almost always silence.  So I ask them, “You all say religious experience is possible but you cannot tell me the difference between the experience of God and the experience of Satan?  What good then is your claim to religious experience?” There are only two options in Scripture — either God or not God. There is no intermediate. If we cannot tell the difference between God and Satan, no wonder we have trouble practicing spiritual discernment.

Nobody wants to live in a society that cannot distinguish between true and false. Though relativism has become the anti-dogma excommunicating all dissenters, yet it leads to consequences that none are willing to accept.  What is the difference then between Mother Teresa who fed the poor and Jeffrey Dahmer who ate the poor? There is a difference and it runs deep.  The relativist, however, having rejected transcendence,  can only say they just found their happiness in different ways. Nobody wants to live in a world that cannot make such simple and basic moral distinctions. If Jeffrey Dahmer is looking at us, or someone we love, as lunch, relativism becomes a luxury we cannot afford.

The day when the religious variety in America was Protestant, Catholic, and Jew is long gone. There are many groups in this country larger than Quakers that hold views to which indifference would clearly violate the first commandment. The four-volume Encyclopedia of Religion in Americasurveys this variety, with no confessional ax to grind. Satanist organizations make up a surprisingly large portion of that book. The most long-standing Satanist group is Wicca, which species of paganism is enjoying a revival. Friends General Conference, about twenty years ago, invited Star Hawk, a professed pagan and witch[3], to address their annual gathering. Many professed offense and incomprehension at the want of tolerance when some Friends United Meeting leaders expressed outrage that a professed witch would be accorded such an opportunity.  Only a condition of complete turpitude would require us to say, “It makes a difference whether we worship God or Satan!  God, tells Israel that if they take on the ways of the Canaanites, “You will surely die”.[4]  In theology, this is not a subtlety; it is the level of “Duh!”

So, here are some very basic theological points which have a direct bearing on our situation.  None of these is new or unique to me. God forbid. After briefly discussing them, I will look at some concrete instances of spiritual discernment, connected with the life of Stephen Grellet.[5]

I. The Holy Spirit is fully God.

This is as basic as can be, but it has not soaked in with us.  We subordinate the Holy Spirit in many ways. This resembles the error that for a time looked like it would prevail in the early days of the Church, that there is a hierarchy in God. The Father was on the top, then the Son, and then the Spirit pulling up the rear, and the Spirit was not personal.  The Spirit was more like Star Wars’ — the Force. There was a hard struggle over that and the Church collectively came to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is fully God – our salvation is contingent upon it.  The reason they came to this conclusion is that the Holy Spirit makes efficacious in our circumstances the benefits of cross and resurrection.  Nothing less than fully God is equal to this job.

This Holy Spirit is much greater than “my inner light”. The Holy Spirit is Uncreated Light — the Creator – the one who brought all things out of nothing — the one who moved on the face of the waters and brought forth the land. It is this Spirit that God breathed into Adam. It is this Spirit that enables us to live now. It is God’s gift to us of life.  In Scripture generally Spirit means life, or it has to do with creation. Almost never in Scripture does the Spirit mean consciousness. The Holy Spirit is far more than just a voice in my head. The Holy Spirit creates in us the desire for God. The Holy Spirit communicates to us the knowledge of God. The Holy Spirit orders history and is sovereign over nations. It makes a path through the sea. It strengthens us to endure whatever the world might throw against us. This is far more than an influence that I might heed or resist. One of the most fatal moves ever made in Quaker theology was when Rufus Jones said that the Light is simply the depths of my inner self.  It is a short step from God in my heart to my heart is God, and there is no greater tyrant than that god. G.K. Chesterton was right to say,

“That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon,anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards,to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners.”[6]

Once we can not tell the difference between God’s Spirit and our own creature spirit anything is possible and that is our fundamental problem — we cannot tell the difference between our own spirit and the Spirit of God.  As long as we cannot tell the difference it is nonsense to rely upon religious experience.

We are not self-fulfilling beings. If we were, what would we need Jesus for? All we would need is the latest spiritual technology and we can get that from Oprah. Just follow her book list. We could become what John Donne called “method-mongers”.  There are always at least two or three of books on Oprah’s list offering ways to spiritual power – never mind Jesus – by following the right technique.

The Holy Spirit as Light is Uncreated Light.  We do not know what that is like, because there lies a gulf between the Creator and us which cannot be crossed from our side. If we lose the difference, we lose God’s transcendence. We need God with us and for us but we also need God above us and against us.  We need God to resist us.  One of the most frightening phrases we can hear from a spouse is “All right do it your way”. We know then that have abandoned ourselves and that is dangerous.  Far more frightening is for God to give us up to our own way.  Judgment begins in Romans when God removes his limits and lets people have what their lusts crave.[7]  We have nothing to wait for – that judgment is upon us.

II. That the Holy Spirit is fully God means not only God for us but also God against us.

We need God against us. We need God over us. William Penn in No Cross No Crown talks about the typical Quaker conversion experience in those days.  This was not a matter of becoming acquainted with his inner goodness. It was an experience of confrontation, a traumatic thing, and in this Penn is like the Puritans of his day. The meeting with God was the assault of transcendence. As he says,

“Our heaven seemed to melt away and our earth to be removed out of its place; and we were like men upon whom the ends of the world were come . . . the brightness of his coming to our souls discovered and the breath of his mouth destroyed every plant he had not planted in us. He was a swift witness against every evil thought and every unfruitful work.”[8]

Demolition is not the Holy Spirit’s only work, but it is part of it, because conversion involves confession and repentance. Apparently, however, most Americans do not think sin any longer a problem, though clearly we suffer more as a nation from home grown  greed and promiscuity than from any foreign enemy.  According to David Wells’ Losing Our Virtue, only 17% of Americans regard sin as an offense against God.[9] That says to me that for the other 83% Easter would have to be nonsense.

The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son.[10] This is as basic as it gets for Christian theology.  The Christian name for God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no other name. To try to name God otherwise is not just semantics, it puts our salvation in jeopardy. This is the Church’s collective settled conviction.  Diet and festivals, buttons and hat brims do not matter but on this there can be no latitude. If we detach the Spirit from the Father and the Son he authority of scripture must collapse as a consequence.  Apart from the Word, “there is nothing so stupid, obscene, or foreign to all decency” as Luther says, that we will not regard as holy worship. [11]

For early Friends the Holy Spirit — the Light — is the continued presence of the historical Jesus Christ who suffered and died outside of Jerusalem, rose from the dead on the third day and now lives. This is the real Jesus, not something cobbled together by those “scientific” historians who presuppose that Jesus was not who the Church has proclaimed him to be – the risen Lord. The historical Jesus never has been the Jesus that the Church has relied upon. It has always been the risen Lord. And the Holy Spirit is at one with this Jesus Christ. The good Shepherd says all others are thieves and robbers.  “I am the way the truth and the life” he says, not a way, a truth, alife.[12]  Early Friends agreed with this. Fox says of the promise made to Eve that,

The promise of God . . . was made to the Seed, not to seeds, as many, but to one, which seed was Christ; and . . . all people, both males and females, should feel this seed in them, which was heir of the promise; that so they might all witness Christ in them, the hope of glory, the mystery which had been hid from ages and generations, which was revealed to the apostles and is revealed again now, after this long night of apostasy.[13]

This is far from the pluralist dogma that there are many ways to God and that a mature person accepts this. Early Quakers were so immature on that score as to reject this genial indifference as they scrupled to disuse the ordinary names for the days of the week and the months of the year because these were named after pagan gods – Saturn’s day, Sun’s day, Moon’s day, Thor’s day etc.  It is profoundly ironic that those Quakers today who are most likely to use the old number names are the same as those who see no problem with pursuing other gods. This is palpable nonsense.  If Early Friends had accepted the whatever-way-suits-you-as-long-as-you-are-sincere path to God, they could have spared themselves persecution and incidentally made their record-keeping simpler.

Robert Barclay says, “We are . . . willing to allow this to be stated as a positive maxim: Anything which anyone may do while claiming to be led by the Spirit, which is contrary to the scriptures, may be considered a delusion of the devil. Since every evil contradicts the scriptures, it must also be contrary to the Spirit from whence they come. The motions of the Spirit can never contradict one another…”[14]

Most modern Quakers are unaware that Barclay also wrote a catechism to instruct Quaker children which was used in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting up until the 1930s. To many modern Quakers this is inconceivable, so enamored are they of the view that Quakerism represents pure individualism in religion. Can it be Quakers bothered to teach their children about God? And about Christ?  Can it be that there are right answers to those questions?  Yes, yes and yes.[15]

III. Spirit, community, and scripture are related.

Barclay argues that the authority of Spirit, scripture and community are interrelated, but the way he does so bequeaths problems to us.  His argument is often circular and self-contradictory. He does not want to make Scripture the rule for fear of sterile legalism. He says that the Spirit is the rule. On the other hand, he says that all Quaker doctrines are to be tested by Scripture, for example in that passage I just quoted above. Barclay says that Scripture is reliably interpreted by the community that is “sanctified in Christ Jesus”.[16]  It is a lovely theory but experience tells against it.  The one Christian doctrine that is empirically verifiable is the doctrine of original sin.  The evidence is everywhere.  Sixty years in the Society of Friends has not revealed to me any community that rises to the level of Barclay’s definition, though it has shown me many who claimed it in practice by denying their need for the grace of confession.  Our sinfulness is never so evident as when we deny it.  We succumb to temptation by means of believing that we are above it.

The best we can hope for is not a community of flawless people, but rather one whose members know their need for God – who realize that apart from Christ they can do nothing — who realize that their life comes from God – and find their life in observing his limits. There spiritual discernment is possible.

For Barclay, the argument that each should be left to his own opinion was false.  It would open the door to every kind of heresy in the group, and once entered, it would be almost impossible to stop. Also, Barclay argued, if the early Friends had held such an accommodating view they might easily have avoided all those troubles, imprisonments, beatings etc. All of those troubles came because, in faithfulness to their message, they dared to say that those holding contrary views were wrong. This was not to say that there was to be no freedom, but it must be a freedom such as the gospel gives and not the freedom to follow every whim. That would have opened the door to anarchy.[17] If Paul had held the view that there are many different ways to God he could have greeted the Ephesians by saying, “Well, here you are all worshiping the fertility goddess Artemus. I worship Jesus Christ.  Let’s dialogue.” This approach would have avoided the riot that caused him to write that at Ephesus “we were brought to the point of despairing of life altogether”.[18] The idea that the road we take does not matter is not what they were talking about.  If Quakerism is anything other than basic Christianity it is not worth our trouble.  Whereas modern Quakers are apt to stress the difference between our circumstances and the Church in Acts, early Quakers radically stressed the sameness.

As for early Quakers submitting to the institutional process of discernment, clearness committees, that sort of thing, George Fox rarely took anyone’s advice on anything. He was an autocratic leader by modern standards. John Woolman, on the other hand, one hundred years later, dutifully submitted his leadings to his local monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings. That had become the regular process by the 18th century for someone proposing to travel in the ministry. Far from being the champion of latitude in doctrine, however, Woolman and his associates were part of a reform movement among Quakers intent upon purifying a fallen away Church by exercise of the discipline.[19]  By the time of Stephen Grellet, in the early 19th century, in every case where Grellet submitted a concern to travel in the ministry, the only other business at hand was disownments. Indeed, in those days such gatherings were called “meetings for discipline”.  That we call our corollary gatherings “Business Meetings” says a lot about us.

Ironically, those Quakers today who look back to Saint Woolman as their patron do not notice this puritanical sternness. Quakers faced the challenge, like their Puritan neighbors, of nominal membership. Quakers had defined the Church as “without spot or wrinkle”.[20] To be justified was also to be sanctified.  The first few generations were confident of having approximated that standard but by the third and fourth generations, many were members owing to the accidents of birth rather than conviction and conversion. Even more perverse were those priding themselves on bloodline which Fox and Penn had blasted.  Many were more interested in doing well than in doing good. This posed a challenge: either admit that the Quaker definition of the Church had been wrong or commence to winnowing the wheat from the chaff.  Woolman and associates determined on the latter.  Woolman held such a narrow view of ministry as to think it his duty, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, to confront false gods in the temple.

The details of this story have been chronicled by Stanford historian Jack Marietta in his Reformation of American Quakerism.  Marietta read the whole of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s minutes for the whole 18th-century, and tabulated all the disownments from every meeting and every quarter for the whole century.  I once met him at a conference and asked him[21] as a check on my own sanity, whether he was puzzled by the attitude toward corporate discipline of those modern Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Quakers he met while he was doing his research?  His jaw dropped a little and he said “yes”. “Does it puzzle you how we can get from there to here?” I asked.  “Yes” he said again, emphatically.  We are far from the attitude that prevailed in Woolman’s day.  A repristination of those days is not the answer for us, but truth requires noticing the vast difference.

18th and 19th century Quaker disciplines were more comprehensive and authoritative than our modern “Faith and Practices”.  They included, for example, business queries which were enforced.  If a Quaker business went bankrupt, for instance, the monthly meeting would inquire into the accounts.  If it turned out that the bankruptcy was due to irresponsible handling of finances, they could be disowned.[22]  These business queries helped make the Quaker banks strong because they had to follow conservative lending and investment policies or face the prospect of disownment. Barclay’s and Lloyd’s banks today are the successors of many hardy little Quaker banks that coalesced together eventually pooling the assets of centuries of slow but steady growth.[23]

The queries were taken seriously. Quakers who emigrated from the Atlantic coast to the Indiana and Ohio in the 19th century could not get a letter of removal, that is, a transfer of membership, without satisfying the monthly meeting that they were not running away from debts. The thought of a monthly meeting involving itself that much in what we regard as private matters is repugnant, but this is part of what discernment meant in those days. Marriage clearness committees and Recording committees sometimes said no. Imagine that.

IV. Stephen Grellet and Fruit of Spiritual Discernment

Sydney Ahlstrom, the great Yale Church historian, in his Religious History of the American Peoplesays that “two of America’s greatest Quaker leaders were John Woolman mystic and reformer and Stephen Grellet the preacher”.[24] D. Elton Trueblood, of Earlham College and former president of Haverford College William Wistar Comfort both labeled Grellet the greatest Quaker minister of the last two centuries. He went on four extensive missionary journeys to Europe. He visited, in his lifetime, nearly every meeting in the United States, which meant covering an area from Canada to Louisiana and the Atlantic to the Mississippi river.  Whenever he got a chance he visited governors arguing freedom for the slaves. He traveled throughout Europe during the time of the Napoleonic wars – a very dangerous and difficult enterprise. He traveled to Turkey and Greece in a time when the Turks were slaughtering the Greeks. Everywhere he went he visited prisons, asylums, and schools. He was instrumental in launching Elizabeth Fry in prison work. He and British Quaker, William Allen, made an extensive trip to Russia, where among other things; they labored for universal public education and freedom for the serfs.  The Lancastrian school system that they promoted became a predecessor of public schools in New York and in England.

Spiritual discernment, in the sense of Barnabus-like encouragement, was crucial to launching Grellet in this fruitful life of ministry.  It is hard to imagine what his life would have been without otherwise. In the summer of 1795 he and his brother Peter arrived on Long Island, New York as refugees of the French Revolution. Their father was imprisoned expecting any day to be sent to the guillotine.  Neither brother could speak English. They were staying with a family of Huguenot descent that spoke French. There was a Friends meeting nearby and they eventually became interested in attending. They did so the whole summer. Stephen says that nobody in that meting ever tried to talk to him. Of course, it would have been hard to talk to him because nobody there spoke French, but that no one tried was discouraging. He was profoundly lonely. But two British Quaker women ministers, Deborah Darby and Rebecca Young, visited the meeting.  Stephen heard of their intention and attended.  Even though he could not understand what they said, “the sight of them brought solemn feelings” over him.  Later, Stephen and his brother were invited to have a meal with Deborah Darby and Rebecca Young.  During that time, he said that Rebecca spoke to him directly and “it was as though she was reading the pages of my heart.” That someone was interested and saw possibilities in him was transforming in its effects.

Later he moved to Philadelphia, to what was then called the North Meeting.  He eventually felt called to speak in worship. His English was still very poor.  Someone took down this anonymous account of his first sermon.

Our last Preparative Meeting was such an one as, I think, I was never at before; we had thirteen testimonies beside a little exhortation from J. Simpson, there was eleven particulars, two stood up twice, several belonged to Market Street, one, a young man gay in his appearance. After several had spoke, Stephen Grellet, the young Frenchman, who had applied at this meeting for admittance as a member, rose, and stood a considerable time, for the first, he speaks so broken I could gather but little, but dear W. Savery soon testified his unity by reviving among other expressions of encouragement and sympathy what was formerly declared, “If these should hold their peace, the very stones would cry out . . . and dear S. Emlen quickly after put us in remembrance of this proclamation “strangers shall stand and feed your flocks”.

Grellet kept that account his whole life. It is included in his papers in the Philadelphia Historical Society. And he also kept letters from Deborah Darby and Rebecca Young that they sent to him when they sailed back to England, all of them encouraging him in his spiritual life and ministry.

William Savery was completely in character when he spoke to encourage Stephen Grellet.  He did the same for Jacob Ritter who was a German immigrant that never became famous like Stephen Grellet. Ritter was a cobbler. Just like Pinocchio’s father, it was hard for him to make a living especially as he could not speak English. He says was afraid all the time.  But William Savery would come sometimes and just sit in his shop all day without saying anything. Just sit there. It strengthened him. Ritter finally believed that he was called to speak something in meeting. He got so excited that he delivered the whole message in German. William Savery went to see him afterward and said,

Jacob, thou preachest to us in Dutch; cans’t thou not preach to us in English, we can’t understand Dutch.” I said, “My English is very imperfect.” He said “But thou can try Jacob. I want thee next time to try and preach in English as well as thou can.” So the next time I spoke as well as I coot, part Tutch and part English.[25]

William Savery was also very important for the young Elizabeth Fry as she showed signs of apostasy as she appeared in meeting sporting red shoestrings.  London Elder Samuel Scott illustrates the spirituality that she was gently rebelling against.  Scott’s ideal sermon was one word long – one sentence if one word were not enough. He kept track in his journal of how many successive Sundays he could repress the urge to speak. That to him was model ministry. The only occasion I find in his journal where he ever spoke in ministry to his neighbor was he got worried about the neighbor’s superfluous buttons. And then, it was not so much regard for the neighbor as for his own salvation if he did not issue the warning.  So he went next door to warn his neighbor about his superfluous buttons and returned relieved, his salvation once more intact. This is the climate Elizabeth Gurney experienced every Sunday.  When William Savery came he would preach for hours that passed like minutes.  As Isaiah says, “the bruised reed he will not break the smoking flax he will not put out”. [26]  William Savery, Deborah Darby, and Rebecca Young did not look for a fire with no smoke. They looked for a spark. Smoke alone they took as a sign of a spark and blew on the spark.

So what does this mean for us? It says something about speaking, but also says something about listening. We often hear that the Church would get on better if we all just did more talking.  Maybe. But the people who have had the most impact on me at crucial times, and I think especially of one, it was not because of what he said but how he listened – rooted in prayer. I felt as Grellet said that someone was “reading the pages of my heart.” That became an important way marker for me on the path of life. What I want to end with is another story about Stephen Grellet that integrates the importance of both listening and speaking with spiritual discernment.  It is the famous story of “preaching to nobody”. It does not occur in his Memoirs anywhere. The closest I can get to him with this story is his daughter Rachel who edited the Memoirs and passed out copies to whoever was interested in her father. There were two things she used to tell people the summed up her father’s life. One was his prayer: “I expect to pass through this world but once therefore if there’s any good that I can do to any living creature let me do it now for shall not pass this way again.” You’ve heard that. The other was the story of preaching to nobody.[27]

As the story goes Grellet felt called to preach at a remote lumber camp in the woods somewhere. When he arrived he found the place deserted. But he still had such a strong impression he was supposed to preach that, weird as it seemed, he went ahead and delivered the message. So as a story goes, years later, he was in London on London Bridge and a man came up to him, introduced himself and said, “I was there at that lumber camp. I heard you.” The man said he had hidden himself because Grellet seemed crazy but he listened and the message changed his life — he was then doing mission work himself.

God does not need us – he can accomplish his purposes even with those who resist, but what can he not accomplish with those who listen?  The Church is the community that listens to God.  The Church that no longer listens to God is Church in name only.  It can happen today that we feel like we are preaching to nobody, but what matters still is faithfulness. If discernment is going to happen it is going to be because we let the command of God be enough for us — no shortcuts. Surprising breakthroughs can happen. That Grellet did not see the result until years later is perfectly normal. Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame, tells of his fictional Lutheran minister, pastor Ingqvist, that one Sunday he gave what he thought was one of his best sermons. He describes how the sermon struck each person in the pews – showering grace and shaping good resolves in their minds and hearts. Afterward, the people thought “it was so good they almost told him so”.

Despite the paucity of evidence, we have to believe the good seed has good effects. We are all debtors to those who went before that sowed the good seed for us.  Will the next generation be able to say the same of us? The object of discernment is simply to nurture faithfulness – to listen to God and to nourish the community that listens to God – the Church.

[1] This is a revised version of an address given at the North Carolina Yearly Meeting Ministers and Elders Conference, February 5, 2011.

[2] Romans 1:32

[3] See

[4] Deuteronomy 8:20   “Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, also shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” ESV

[5] It is too much to survey the whole of Quaker history on this issue. That could make a fat book in its own right. Instead, I focus on one noteworthy example that I have come to know well as he was the topic of my PhD dissertation, I Shall Not Pass This Way Again, PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 1985.   Here I look at the encouragement he received. But for time limitations, I might also have given attention to the equally necessary task of exposing and opposing falsehood that Stephen Grellet also exercised.


[8] William Penn, No Cross No Crown (York, England: The Ebor Press, 1981) pp. 118-119.

[9] Wells, David, Losing Our Virtue,  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) p. 59

[10] “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:23

[11] See Ezekiel 8-9 for a sample of God’s attitude on this point.

[12] John 10:1-30 and 14:6.

[13] John L. Nickalls, ed., Journal of George Fox, with an epilogue by Henry J. Cadbury and an introduction by Geoffrey F. Nuttall (London: Religious Society of Friends, 1975) p. 339 We could collect hundreds of statements from Fox’s writings that explicitly equate the Light to the continued presence of the historical Jesus Christ.

[14] Robert Barclay, Barclay’s Apology in Modern English, Edited by Dean Freiday (Philadelphia: Friends Book Store, 1967), p. 60

[15] Barclay, Robert.  A Catechism and Confession of Faith Edited by Dean Freiday and Arthur O. Roberts (Newberg, OR: Barclay Press, 2001) This is a modern English edition.


[17]Robert Barclay, A Treatise on Church Government. Formerly Called Anarchy of the Ranters etc. Being a Two-Fold Apology for the Church and People of God, Called, in Derision, Quakers(London, 1674; reprint ed., Philadelphia, 1830).  p. 57

[18] 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

[19] Jack Marietta, The Reformation of American Quakerism 1748—1783 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984)

[20] Ephesians 5:27

[21] He was a  Presbyterian and had no Quaker ax to grind.

[22] Elizabeth Fry’s chocolate manufacturing husband got in trouble with his own monthly meeting a couple of times over his business dealings – accused of “undue speculation”.

[23] I would like to think that the residue of those old Quaker policies had something to do with Barclay’s Bank not having to borrow a dime from the British government during the recent economic downturn.

[24] Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People, 2 vols. (New York: Image Books, 1975) 1:264.

[25] Francis R. Taylor, Life of William Savery of Philadelphia 1750—1804, (New York, 1925), p. 40.

[26] Samuel Scott, A Diary of the Religious Exercises and Experience of Samuel Scott,(Philadelphia, 1859) pp. 28, 29, 57.

[27] Violet Hodgkin, A Book of Quaker Saints (London: Friends Home Service Committee, 1972, originally published 1917), pp. 379—386; also numerous other printings in books, magazines and tracts.  The story may be apocryphal.  It was once told about Lyman Beecher in introducing him.  Beecher was honest enough to say it was a great story but it never happened to him.

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