A Long Road

In late July 2016, we released Face to Face: Early Quaker Encounters with the Bible, the first volume in T. Vail Palmer, Jr.’s masterwork on Friends theology. In that first book, Palmer noted that “the earliest Friends constantly quoted the Bible, and it is clear that their pioneering positions on matters such as war, women’s ministry, and justice derive from their understanding of the Bible.”

Last week, we sent Palmer’s long-awaited second volume to press, and we expect to have copies ready to ship on or before January 2. In that second book, A Long Road: How Quakers Made Sense of God and the Bible, Palmer picks up where he left off in Face to Face.

“By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the effort to keep outside influences from impacting Quaker spirituality was clearly failing. Many Friends were impressed by the Enlightenment emphasis on reason in religion and commitment to religious and political freedom. Many others were caught up in Evangelical enthusiasm and commitment to social justice.

“The result was a series of separations and divisions – Quakers disagreed about the nature of God, the atonement, and the function of scripture.

“A long, rocky, even muddy road.

“This is not the first time the story has been told. We find in the contemporary splits of one yearly meeting after another, the underlying issues are the same as they have always been. After all, the story of Quakerism is a story of divisions. It is also a story of creativity. And of hope.”

Eric Muhr