Monday, January 7, 2008

Quakerism of the Future

John Yungblut, a student of Rufus Jones and Henry J. Cadbury, worked for the AFSC in the South and became director of Quaker House, a civil rights and peace program in Atlanta in the 1960’s. He was invited to give this Henry J. Cadbury lecture at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1974.

Yungblut begins immediately by dismissing any pretention to predict the future of Quakerism.
“I am doing something even more presumptuous: I am saying that in my judgement the only Quakerism that can survive in the future will have to be mystical, prophetic, and evangelical.”

Taking each of these subtopics he gives illustrations and discusses what he means by the language. Regarding mysticism he feels that “there is within the Society of Friends a growing group of those who would have us disclaim this heritage.”

But a great deal of Yungblut's message centers on how he defines what he means by mysticism. Quoting Dean Inge he maintains that
Religious mysticism may be defined as the attempt to realize the presence of the living God in the soul and in nature, or more generally as the attempt to realize, in thought and feeling, the immanence of the temporal in the eternal, and of the eternal in the temporal.

Yungblut goes on to discuss “The Prophetic”, noting that the “white heat of early Quaker testimony cooled when the mystical conciousness that supported it died down.” Concluding with a discussion of “The Evangelical”, he presents a more personal testimony of his convictions translating the atonement of Christ to his understanding of the mystical “at-one-ment.”

In his summary John Yungblut is earnest in his appeal:
Strange and unendurable irony — that Friends who speak so much about the Inward Light should so timidly hide their own light under a bushel! The time has come to preach the faith we have resolved to practice. If we have good news for our brothers, and I believe we do, let us shout it from the housetops! Let us learn to be publishers of truth about our faith as well as our social concerns.

View the complete Pendle Hill pamphlet number 194:
Quakerism of the Future

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