Through flaming sword
I am glad that I accepted the offer because I enjoyed reading the book. The biography was a useful, easily read introduction to the life of Fox. The part that grabbed my interest was the section on the legacy of George Fox where Roberts discusses the holiness tradition among early Friends. Growing up as I did among liberal Friends I had tended to view holiness as something that had swept over 19'th century Friends and somehow subverted the Quaker movement. Roberts made Quaker holiness understandable to me. He also showed me that it has been at the heart of Quakerism from the beginning.
As Roberts explains it, holiness is the idea that justification and sanctification are heart of the religious life. It is the work of Christ within us that actually makes us holy. This may happen over time, but eventually we are made perfect and holy by God. This was the part of Barclay that made my heart sing. It is the part of Quakerism that I would like to see liberal Friends recover. It is just that I had never known to put the name of Holiness on that doctrine. So I was a bit gobsmacked to see an Evangelical friend declaring this to be the heart of Quakerism and something that had been preserved in their branch of Quakerism. This confirmed my belief that Friends need to spend more time talking with each other. The different strains of Quakerism are holding on to different pieces of what had been a unified whole. I think that silent worship is a unique gift of Friends to Christianity. But it loses some of its transformative power without the idea of holiness. With holiness, Meeting for Worship becomes more than just a quiet hour of reflection, it becomes a tool whereby the Spirit of God can work in us to bring us along the road to perfection or holiness. I understand how Hannah Whitehall Smith could have heard holiness preached and thought that it was just Quakerism in clearer language.
Reading this got me to start reading Carole Dale Spencer's more thorough and scholarly study of holiness, Holiness: the Soul of Quakerism. Before I would have thought that title a bit of a stretch. Now I am not so sure. I will at least have to finish her book before I can say.
Blessings to all,