Editors’ Introduction #9

By Chuck Fager & Ann Riggs

We are pleased to offer here a wide-ranging selection of the thought and work active among Friends. The issue begins with Stephen Angell’s scholarly examination of George Fox’s efforts at basic religious education, and then jumps to a very personal “oral history” account by Richard Lee of his family’s melding of Quakerism and “forest wisdom” and healing traditions in an ancient and revered British forest.

Then it’s back to research and reflection, with Esther Murer’s report on how some key early Friends made use of the stories in Genesis of the Tower of Babel and Nimrod the Hunter, from her ongoing work on how biblical texts were used in early Quaker preaching and polemics. This is followed by a corporate statement on the nature of the church, or ecclesiology, prepared for Friends United Meeting by three Friends making up its Theological Commission. Quaker Theology is pleased to be the vehicle for getting this particular Friends contribution to the wider ecumenical dialogue into published form.

From there we turn to reviews of five books, which have taken up much space on Editor Chuck Fager’s reading list in the past year. Two are memoirs by Quaker women, examples of “narrative theology” situated firmly in the drama and struggle of their everyday lives, and offering considerable illumination of our time. Two others are more overtly theological, dealing with the issue of universal salvation. The fact that the two books were written nearly 200 years apart does not much affect their commonality of themes and perspective. Both were also the focal point of controversy in their time.

The fifth book under review is not by or about a Quaker, but nonetheless fits well within the parameters of our guiding concerns, especially the call by Stanley Hauerwas in Quaker Theology #7 “to abolish war as a legitimate means of resolving political conflict between states and within them.” We respond to this summons with a critical analysis of this latest effort to find in the “just war theory” a rationale for the current American war in Iraq and its grasp for the role of world arbiter and policeman.

With this issue, Quaker Theology begins its fifth year of publication, as the first Quaker theological journal with both a print and online presence, and a commitment to bringing together the broadest sweep of informed religious thought and theological reflection that we can. We are grateful for the support of our readers and subscribers, and we invite new readers to consider adding the print edition to their meeting’s library collections, so more Friends can join this conversation.

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