This second issue of Quaker Theology pursues our quest for a broader theological understanding in several directions.
And speaking of QUEST, this issue also follows QUESTs first seminar on Quaker theology, which was successfully concluded in First Month of this year, in state College, PA. Twenty-eight persons registered, and we challenged each other to reappropriate the practice of theology in service to the life of our Religious Society. We will have another seminar this coming winter; check at out website (www.quaker.org/quest) for details.
To begin this issue, R. Melvin Keiser considers and explores the questions: "Do we even dare...to speak of Quaker theology? Do Quakers write, have Quakers done, "theology?" He seeks answers from the perspective of a "postcritical philosopher," who has probed the work of twentieth century thinkers like Tillich as well as the classic sources of Quaker thought.
This is followed by an examination of George Foxs "mysticism" from a Catholic perspective.George H. Tavard, A.A. (Augustinians of the Assumption) is a prolific scholar and one of the great ecumenists of our time. Tavards bibliography in the 1994 volume The Quadrilog: Tradition and the Future of Ecumenism: Essays in Honor of George H. Tavard comes to fifteen densely packed pages of references to books, essays, articles and dictionary entries.
Tavard has been busy in the intervening years, as well. His fifty-third book is due out this summer. Some of the earliest entries on Fr. Tavards bibliography, "The Assumptionists and the Work of Christian Unity," and "The Light of God in the Theology of St. Bonaventure," in The Eastern Church Quarterly 8 (1949-1950), already give hints of the life-long interests, in the intersection of spirituality and theology and in ecumenism, that lie behind such pieces as his article here "George Fox among Christian Mystics."
When we asked if he might be willing to write about George Fox for Quaker Theology, Tavard answered that he could always make time to write on someone so close to his heart as Fox. Here Tavard compares Foxs spirituality, and the resulting tensions between the Religious Society he helped create and traditional religious structures, with parallel tensions between Catholic mystics and their church authorities. Exploration of these comparisons and contrasts is a rich, and in many ways undeveloped, field of study.
Alvin Joaquín Figueroa takes up another aspect of this study, in what he describes as "a preliminary draft of a more ambitious project," aimed at seeing Fox and classic Quakerism from a Hispanic perspective. He notes that "every attempt to establish a discourse around the figure of George Fox has been utterly Anglocentric. It is as if there is no reality beyond the English language, and Foxs was an isolated prophetic experience." Of course it was not, and looking to the complex and fertile tradition of Spanish mysticism that preceded the appearance of Quakerism is a very promising way of understanding it more fully.
This issue closes with a review of Among Friends, a recently issued report from the Earlham School of Religion (ESR), and an exchange between George Amoss, who wrote about his Quaker atheism in the first issue, and Edward James, a reader in Michigan.
We continue to encourage reader responses to our articles, as well as ideas for future issues.
We also encourage readers to consider attending our second Quaker Theology Seminar, to be held in State College, Pennsylvania on the weekend of First Month (January) 12-14, 2001.
The program for this gathering will include a general introduction to theology for Quakers, and a case study of theological developments in American liberal Quakerism during the twentieth century. To receive details and registration forms, send an e-mail to: email@example.com; or write to: QUEST, P.O. Box 82, Bellefonte PA 16823.
Chuck Fager & Ann K. Riggs