February 25, 2019
In just six days, more than a thousand Friends from across the country will start a thirteen-week study of the book of Acts. They’ll engage the Scripture as Friends have been doing for centuries by thinking about how their own experience intersects with the text and what that might mean for their local faith community as it seeks to bear light in the world. And for context, each week’s study includes an extended quotation from a historical Friend.
Illuminate Bible study curriculum is designed to help Friends engage with Scripture. By including historical Quaker content, Illuminate also works to challenge our contemporary sensibilities about what the Bible is and what it does. I think this challenge can be healthy in that it prompts us (if we let it) to think about how we read the Bible and what we do with it – to uncover our assumptions about the text, to help us more honestly engage the text. Here are a few of the quotations we’re including for the study of Acts:
“Nineteen centuries has He been waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool; for a spotless and glorious bride to be presented to Him; ... for the uttermost parts of the earth to be made His inheritance. And if He has to wait another nineteen centuries, He will not fail, nor be discouraged. He will yet stand at the head of a ransomed and renovated universe, and recover all for God in everlasting bliss.” – Max I. Reich (1867–1945)
“Never forget, therefore, that Christianity is a revolutionary faith. What then is our right relation to the revolutionary movements of our age? Certainly not just to stand off and have nothing to do with them. That is to make ourselves irrelevant. Certainly we ought not to try to oppose them, for that is to try to do the impossible. The way of wisdom, remembering the genius of the Christian faith, is to acknowledge the revolutionary movement, to glory in it, to be glad that people want their freedom and their equality and the dignity of their lives.” – D. Elton Trueblood (1900–1994)
“But sink down into that measure of life that ye have received, and go not out with your in-looking at what is contrary in you, for if you do you will miss of the power that should destroy it, for as ye keep in that which is pure, which is the eternal word of the Lord, which is nigh in your hearts, it will work and operate so, that it will overcome what is contrary: and so, you, dear [ones], that are little and weak in your own eyes, to you is this message sent, look not at your own weakness, but look at him who is calling you in his eternal love, who will make the weak strong, and will pull down the mighty from their seat.” – Sarah Jones (c. 1650)
“Above all things, my dear children, as to your communion and fellowship with Friends, be careful to keep the unity of the faith in the bond of peace. Have a care of reflectors, detractors, backbiters, that undervalue and undermine brethren behind their backs, or slight the good and wholesome order of truth for the preserving things quiet, sweet, and honorable in the church. Have a care of novelties, and airy, changeable people, the conceited, censorious, and puffed up, who at last have always shown themselves to be clouds without rain, and wells without water, that will rather disturb and break the peace and fellowship of the church where they dwell than not have their wills and way take place.” – William Penn (1644–1718)
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