Editor’s Introduction #13

This issue includes both new pieces and some followups. On the new side, Mennonite pastor Pearl Hoover offers a preliminary examination of Friend Tom Fox’s evolving spirituality, a process of growth and reflection that led him to the Christian peacemaker teams, Baghdad, kidnapping, and martyrdom. We hope that Tom’s life and witness will be studied in more detail in the coming years because it is evident that there is much richness there.

Next, we have an examination by Jody Cross-Hansen of some changes in how the Bible was regarded and used by Hicksite women reformers in the nineteenth century, to challenge slavery, the oppression of women, war, and other evils. As the essay shows, challenges to received interpretations, especially by women, could be both personally costly, and harbingers of schism. Further, this is not merely a historical observation; the reverberations of these struggles continue among us.

Likewise, among other old-new struggles in some branches of Friends, the question of water baptism is currently receiving considerable attention. Lloyd Lee Wilson brings a conservative Quaker perspective to this issue with an examination of biblical treatment of the practice.

Then we turn to followups and rejoinders: first, a response to Keith Helmuth’s essay in Quaker Theology #12 on environmental degradation and possible Quaker responses. This was a superior presentation of environmental issues, with provocative proposals for Quaker responses, and there are some additional aspects of it that seemed worth raising.

Our first review examines whether nontheist Quaker theology, as expressed in a recent collection, is an oxymoron, explores why it is not, and considers why some find the presence of nontheist friends such a scandal.

Also, as a matter of record, we’re including a followup to the review in that same issue of the novelistic prophecy by Friend Licia Kuenning, which forecast the appearance of the New Jerusalem in a Maine hamlet last Sixth Month. (Hint: the mosquitoes are still there.) Part of the report reports on the persistence and renewal of the prophecy in the face of adverse experience.

We close with a review of Lloyd Lee Wilson’s latest book, a challenging collection of addresses made to Quaker groups over the past decade.

We don’t set “themes” for issues of Quaker Theology; but in this volume, continuing a number of important conversations seems to have come to the fore. We commend them, and the larger conversations, to Friends’ attention and participation.

– Chuck Fager, Editor

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