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Ten Makers of Modern Protestant Thought: Schweitzer, Rauschenbusch, Temple, Kierkegaard, Barth, Brunner, Niebuhr, Tillich, Bultmann, Buber. Front Cover.
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A Reflection on Modern American Protestant Christianity

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John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion , trans. See also Calvin, Harmony of the Gospels , ed. Torrance, 3 vols Edinburgh, , 3: Hartshorne Cambridge, , Andrew Willett, Synopsis Papismi, that is, a generall viewe of papistry London, , — Duffy, Stripping of the Altars , —70; W.

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Maskell, ed. Fox's aim was to inspire people to hear and obey the voice of God and become a community "renewed up again in God's image" by living the principles of their faith. Fox believed that everyone should try to encounter God directly and to experience the Kingdom of Heaven as a present, living reality. He objected to the hierarchical structure and the rituals of the churches of his time, and rejected the idea that the Bible was always right.

But Fox went even further.

He argued that God himself did not want churches. Churches were either unnecessary to get to God, or an obstruction Fox often referred to churches unkindly as "steeple-houses". Since believers should have a direct relationship with God, no one priests, for example and nothing like sacraments should come in between. Not surprisingly, these views infuriated the mainstream churches, and Quakers were persecuted in Britain on a large scale until Quaker missionaries arrived in the USA in They were persecuted at first, and four were executed.

However the movement appealed to many Americans, and it grew in strength, most famously in Pennsylvania which was founded in by William Penn as a community based on the principles of pacifism and religious tolerance. The origins of Christian abolitionism can be traced to the late 17th Century and the Quakers.

Several of their founders, including George Fox and Benjamin Lay, encouraged fellow congregants to stop owning slaves. By , Quakers in Pennsylvania officially declared their opposition to the importation of enslaved Africans into North America. Along with the Anglican Granville Sharp, Quakers established the first recognised anti-slavery movement in Britain in In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. Quakers do not celebrate Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas although Quaker families may mark Christmas as the secular festival it has largely become.

They believe the events celebrated at such festivals e.


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  • Although Quaker meetings for worship generally take place on a Sunday, this is purely for convenience and not because Sunday is the Sabbath or a particularly holy day. Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life. Are you honest and truthful in all you say and do?

    Do you maintain strict integrity in business transactions and in your dealings with individuals and organisations? Do you use money and information entrusted to you with discretion and responsibility? Quakers avoid working for companies that manufacture weapons or other harmful products nor will they invest in such companies. They prefer to choose work that has positive benefits for the community. They maintain strict integrity in business transactions and in workplace dealings with individuals.

    Quakers have always treated men and women as equals, and were pioneers in the movement for female equality. Quakers oppose blood sports, and do not approve of businesses that exploit animals , such as circuses or zoos, or the fur trade. They object to experiments on animals for trivial purposes such as cosmetics, and are divided as to whether animal experimentation should be allowed for medical research. Quakers are not forbidden from using alcohol or tobacco although these substances are banned from Quaker Meeting Houses , but most Quakers avoid them, or consume them moderately.

    Quakers are non-judgemental about sex, which they see as a gift of God. Their attention is focused on the way in which it is used in human relationships. Sexual activity is essentially neither good nor evil; it is a normal biological activity which, like most other human activities, can be indulged in destructively or creatively.

    An act which for example expresses true affection between two individuals and gives pleasure to them both, does not seem to us to be sinful by reason alone of the fact that it is homosexual. Quakers were one of the first churches to talk openly about sexuality. Since we try to live our lives respecting 'that of God' in everyone we would want to treat all people equally. We feel that the quality and depth of feeling between two people is the most important part of a loving relationship, not their gender or sexual orientation. Quakers don't have a united view on abortion but regard it as a matter of individual conscience.

    Philosophically there is no Quaker doctrine of when a person becomes a person.

    Hannibal Hamlin

    The movement has difficulty reconciling the principle of non-violence, which could argue against abortion, and the wish that women should be able to play a full part in society, which might sometimes justify abortion. Quakers don't have a collective view on the rightness or wrongness of contraception. Many Quakers do use artificial methods of birth control.

    Quakers don't have a united view on euthanasia. Some Quakers make 'living wills', requesting that if they become ill to the point of being incapable of living without artificial life support systems or inappropriate medical intervention, they be allowed to die naturally and with dignity. This comes partly from their belief that there is something of God in every human being, and that they should respect the worth and dignity of each person, and partly from following Christ's own example of social activism.

    At the centre of Friends' religious experience is the repeatedly and consistently expressed belief in the fundamental equality of all members of the human race. Our common humanity transcends our differences. The duty of the Society of Friends is to be the voice of the oppressed but [also] to be conscious that we ourselves are part of that oppression.

    Reading the Bible in Tudor England

    Quakers believe that war and conflict are against God's wishes and so they are dedicated to pacifism and non-violence. And from a practical point of view they think that force nearly always creates more problems than it solves. We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world.

    War, in our view, involves the surrender of the Christian ideal and the denial of human brotherhood. Christ demands of us that we adhere, without swerving, to the methods of love, and therefore, if a seeming conflict should arise between the claims of His service and those of the State, it is to Christ that our supreme loyalty must be given, whatever the consequences. Many conscientious objectors those who refuse to join the armed forces are Quakers, but Quaker pacifism is not simply the refusal to fight: it includes working actively to bring about or preserve peace, by removing the causes of conflict.

    Quakers, like other pacifists, are sometimes accused of being willing to give in to evil regimes rather than fight against them. They disagree, and say that they fight by non-violent means. All forms of non-violent resistance are certainly much better than appeasement, which has come to mean the avoidance of violence by a surrender to injustice at the expense of the sufferings of others and not of one's self, by the giving away of something that is not ours to give. Quakers are not just opposed to war, but to all forms of violence.

    George Fox was personally opposed to the use of violence. He refused to defend himself when he was attacked and often, when the violence was over, had kind words or actions for his attackers. Quakers believe that human beings are stewards of the earth, and should care for it to ensure that each generation passes on to the next generation a world as good as or better than it received.

    Quakers think that the environmental crisis is a spiritual and religious crisis as well as a practical one. Quakers say that environmental issues are also a matter of social justice: they acknowledge that those living in Britain or the USA are largely insulated from the effects of environmental problems and that such issues have a much more serious effect on the world's poor. The produce of the earth is a gift from our gracious creator to the inhabitants, and to impoverish the earth to support outward greatness appears to be an injury to the succeeding age.

    Try to live simply.