«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
7 As Quaker faith and practice developed consistency, Friends’ writing, behaviour and worship followed principles that became the orthodoxy of Quakerism.28 A major exhortation was ‘to turn to the light of Christ within you’. 29 This reference to inwardness was not given detailed or comprehensive explanation by early Quakers, but derived from biblical texts which were understood without elaboration.30 The regularity of the usage of the terms ‘inward’ and ‘within’, related metaphors, symbols and associated terms, became the core of a developing Quaker theology, based on experiential practice. Quakerism spread rapidly and was quickly organised within a ‘burgeoning movement’.31 It cannot be said with equal confidence, however, that Quaker theology was developed systematically among the first Friends.32 Nonetheless it did encompass the importance of inward worship from the very beginning and this was expressed consistently in Fox’s later writings.33 As Braithwaite indicates ‘Religious movements develop with the help of a favouring environment, but they spring out of great personal experiences’.34 So it was with Quakerism and its dominant leader, George Fox, in the first period, i.e. in the 17th 28 Quakerism, and the sense in which the term Inwardness is used in this research, is thus influenced by a distinct theoretical position and its academic entailments.
29 Fox, and others, identified within the thesis.
30 According to Moore ‘Quakers made much use of the “Johannine corpus”, that is, the Fourth Gospel, the three Epistles of Saint John, and the Revelation, all books placing stress on Spirit, Light and Word’. They also turned to the Pauline Epistles and, when wishing ‘to assert belief in union with God’ without risking a blasphemy charge, they found 2 Peter 1:4 very useful. Moore, R. The Light in their Consciences, (Pennsylvania: University State Press, 2000), pp. 53-54.
8 Century, typically taken as 1647-1660 or 1647-1666.35 One problem for later commentators is that early Quakers were notable for failing to articulate a systematic account of the faith and practice of their Movement.36 For this reason it is sometimes difficult to interpret statements with confidence, and reliance on the seventeenth century texts requires careful unravelling.
No comprehensive, systematic account of Quakerism existed until Robert Barclay’s Apology, and Elizabeth Bathurst’s Truth’s Vindication.37,38 However, James Nayler wrote two pamphlets in 1654, and Moore suggests that Nayler’s The Discovery of the Man of Sin,39 ‘was the most systematic and careful statement of Quaker faith that had [yet] been published’.40 In this thesis emphasis is given to examining the form of Quakerism that Fox promoted as it developed from its very early provocative preaching to a form of expression that not only afforded limited respect to other ‘dissenting groups’ but also 35 See Moore, R. Consciences, chapters 1, 2 and 3 for a thorough examination of the formative period of early Quakerism and the chapter on ‘metamorphosis’ that concludes her book.
36 Initial ‘formulation’ of Quaker teaching was expressed, somewhat randomly and, perhaps, roughly in pamphlets and ministry. Much of it was expressed aggressively and was felt, by church and government, to be abusive and in some cases blasphemous. Four later works in particular provide valuable insight into early Quakerism and the stages of transition that ensued. These are: Gwyn, D. Apocalypse, Bailey, New Light, Moore, R. Consciences, and Hinds, H. George Fox. These texts identify how modification of the Quaker message arose in response to the various challenges and criticisms by opponents of Quakerism as the Movement developed. After 1666, there was both alteration of the message and a softened mode of expression. This was endorsed by Fox on his release from Scarborough Castle in September 1666.
37 Barclay, R. (Sippel, P. Ed.) An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, (Glenside PA: Quaker Heritage Press, 2002). See also Gurney, J.J,. A Peculiar People, (Richmond, Ind.: Friends United Press, 1979). Note Greene’s introduction,.pp. iii- v.
38 Bathurst, E. Truth Vindicated by the faithful testimony and writings of the innocent servant and hand-maid of the Lord, London: Religious Society of Friends, 1691.
39 Nayler’s pamphlets of 1654 were in response to Thomas Weld, an experienced minister of the period, working in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Nayler, J. Discovery of the Man of Sin, (London: Printed for Giles Calvert, at the Spread-Eagle near the West End of Pauls, 1654).
40 Moore, Consciences, p. 101.
9 utilised more conventional Christian Protestant language.41 The Quaker message was softened in its delivery, and modified in terms of the major tenet of the ‘light within’;
there was recognition that much of Fox’s message could be expressed without the roughness of the very early days and still satisfy the developing theology that arose from Fox’s personal ‘openings’.42 The term ‘inwardness’ relates here to the spiritual, sometimes termed ‘mystical’, features of individual experience. However, related terms can also be applied to the means by which the individual’s inward experience underpins the whole of life. In this thesis, inwardness, as an established state of life, is described via its synonym ‘Interiority’.43 Thus used, the term implies an intimate connection, between spirituality, attitudes and behaviours.44 Although not described by most Quakers in these terms, it is claimed here that this is the aim of the Quaker way of life in which the consequences of 41 Moore, Consciences, p. 221. Fox’s teaching was tempered as a response to the excessive reaction of church and government that gave rise to the torture and suffering of many early Quakers.
42 Fox, G (Nickalls, J, Ed.) The Journal of George Fox (Philadelphia: Religious Society of Friends, 1997). pp. 7-18.
43 As indicated above, Inwardness is understood in this thesis as a process of self-referring nonreflective consciousness, when the process develops into a stabilised state of living and there is porosity between Inwardness and outwardness, then the term Interiority is used in this thesis. Upper case is used where particular Quaker interpretations are intended as for Inwardness, Interiority and all Conditions and Elements identified in chapter 2.
44 Rowan Williams questions understandings of interiority that are conceived in terms of spatial interpretation. He introduces the possibility that interiority is better understood in relation to time – the time it takes to understand ourselves. Williams quotes Walter Davis: ‘Inwardness is a process of becoming, a work, the labour of the negative. The self is not a substance one unearths by peeling away layers until one gets to the core, but an integrity one struggles to bring into existence’. (Williams, R. On Christian Theology, Oxford: Blackwell, 2000).p. 240, (quotation from Davis, W.. Inwardness and Existence. Subjectivity in Hegel, Heidegger, Marx and Freud, University of Wisconsin Press, 1989, p. 105). The idea of bringing Interiority into existence in it fullness as a matter of integrity is appealing. It concurs, to some extent, with usage in this thesis; it is a work undertaken through worship and way of life. As used in this thesis, however, the definition given above implies a specifically Quaker identification of, what Friends refer to in attaining to ‘that of God’ within the self, often referred to as ‘the light within’. Williams questions such a notion if related to the idea of an ‘authentic self’. Williams, ibid,. p. 239.
10 Inwardness is as important as, or for some Friends more important than, the experience of Inwardness.45 In choosing to focus on Quaker Inwardness, it is not intended to deny the place of inwardness, more generally understood, in the religious faith and practice of other traditions. Understandings of inwardness that extend beyond personal, largely unshared spiritual experience to dimensions of everyday living, and which include worship practices, are also relevant to the broader understanding of the inner-worldly knowing of spiritual practice.46 The inward dimension, or spiritual essence, of individual and corporate life as an acknowledged and, in some cases, significant aspect of liturgical practices and observances, is accepted.47 Rex Ambler refers to Quaker worship in terms of contemplative silence which allows for individuals to ‘turn within’ themselves in spiritual seeking.48 As a starting point for further discussion of Quaker Inwardness, another interpretation of contemplative silence is also applicable. Thomas Merton referring to “monastic” prayer, which he maintained can
fit the life of a lay person also, claimed:
... [this] is a prayer of silence, simplicity, contemplative and meditative unity, a deep personal integration in an attentive, watchful listening of “the heart”. The
response such prayer calls forth is not usually one of jubilation or audible witness:
it is a wordless and total surrender of the heart in silence.49 45 For some Friends of the twenty-first century the consequences of Inwardness are of major importance. See chapter 5 concerning the significance of the consequences of Inwardness i.e. community and social service, in the Religious Society of Friends.
46 Borg, M. The Heart of Christianity, (New York: Harper Collins, 2003), See Borg chapter 8 on ‘Thin Places opening the Heart’. See also Barton, J. in Jones, C., Wainwrght, G., and Yarnold, E. The Study of Spirituality (London: SPCK, 1986), p. 53.
47 As, for example, in Christian performance of designated sacraments. See also Creasey, M.
‘Quakers and the Sacraments’ in Johns, D. (ed). Collected Essays of Maurice Creasey, 1912–2004, (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen, 2011), in particular, pp. 213-214.
48 Ambler, R. Talk delivered to Kendal Quakers as part of National Quaker Week, 2010.
49 Merton, T. Contemplative Prayer, (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2005a) p. 33. Also Stephen, C. Quaker Strongholds, (London: Hicks, 1891), and Light Arising, (London: Headley, 1908).
11 For Caroline Stephen, a notion similar to ‘deep personal integration’ concerns ‘the deep recesses of our being’.50 Stephen says ‘those whose minds, to their own consciousness, are lighted from within’ find the depth of mystical spirituality. 51 Here, in the ‘depth of mystical spirituality’, is the total surrender of the heart in silence.
These words of Merton and Stephen have a bearing on the interpretation of Inwardness to be used in this thesis as related to the worship practice of the Religious Society of Friends:52 this is that the process of turning within, or Inwardness, is selfreferring. By this it is understood as a process of inwardly turned steadiness. It is not an introspective, reflective engagement, in the sense of being discursively thoughtful.
Additionally, it is free from sensory experience in terms of attention outwardly turned to the world at large. In its fulfilled mode it is rather a witnessing to silent consciousness itself in which Friends find ‘that of God within’.53 Thus Fox’s injunction to ‘turn within’ is recognised as a call to Inwardness, in which the activity itself is, initially, important for its own sake and on its own terms.54 It is the turn to the ‘Light of Christ within’.55 Table 1 depicts the generality of Quaker spiritual practice in Meeting for Worship 50 With reference to the work of Stephen, C. Quaker Strongholds and Light Arising.
51 Stephen, Quaker Strongholds, p. 36. In chapter 2 on ‘The Inner Light’ Stephen provides a detailed expression of her understanding of characteristics of mysticism, emphasising the significance of stillness – ‘it is only in stillness that any perfect reflection from above can be formed in the mirror of the human spirit’.(p. 39). This is discussed more fully in relation to Quakerism in chapters 2-5. Note also Ward, K. Is Religion Irrational? (Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2011), p. 16, with reference to ‘learning to worship … a personal reality that underlies the whole universe and our experience of it’ … ‘God … as the subjectivity of the Universe itself’.
52 See Table 1 below.
53 As in Swinburne, R The Existence of God, (Oxford: Clarendon, 2004, 2nd edition), chapter 13, p.
293, this process is understood as ‘a conscious mental event’. In the main it is further interpreted as a religious experience which may be defined, according to Swinburne, as ‘an experience that seems … to the subject to be an experience of God … (either of his just being there, or of his saying something or bringing about something) or of some other supernatural being, p. 295. Swinburne writes ‘I talk of such awareness of God as a perception without implying that the awareness is necessarily mediated via the normal senses.’ (p.
296). See also section 1.5 on methodology.
54 In subsequent sections of this thesis the term Inwardness (upper case) is used to identify and discuss an experiential process and practice leading to states of awareness that are self-referring. The practice, process and states are in themselves the focus of conscious awareness as silent observance/witness.
The individual’s attention shift (inward and outward) is known within a ‘skein of connections’ (Keiser56); this can occur numerous times during Meeting for Worship
Underlying the experience of Meeting for Worship is the Wholeness (the Holiness of the One): This is termed Eternal Being* that pervades all and is more than all