July 22, 2019
In just six weeks, more than a thousand Friends from across the country will start a thirteen-week study of the book of John. 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 John:
“But ye that be turned to the light, walk in the light, walk in the truth where no darkness is.... In which light, as you wait, ye will come to receive into your hearts the word of faith, which reconciles us to God, and is as a hammer, to beat down all that is contrary; and as a sword, to divide the precious from the vile; and as a fire to burn up that which is contrary to the precious.” – George Fox (1624–1691)
“Shall any of us rest in an unprofitable form, which we may call a form of godliness, and content ourselves with a name and profession of faith in Christ, without being brought into that disposition and state, wherein we can worship God in spirit and in truth, in the beauty of holiness, and walk before him in newness of life; which is a fruit of this living powerful efficacious Spirit.” – Catherine Phillips (1727–1794)
“I remembered how it was with Peter when our Saviour came to him to wash his feet. He was not disposed to submit to such a humiliating baptism, supposing himself capable of knowing when, and knowing how to wash his own feet; and no doubt thinking also, that it was lowering to the dignity of his Master, for Him thus to stoop to wash his disciples’s feet, or for his disciples to subject their Lord to this necessity. But when he was told, ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me,’ he was all submission. After the washing was over, Jesus said unto them, ‘Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master, and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet.’” – Ann Branson (1808–1891)
“If there are any in this meeting who feel that they are sinners in the sight of God, I desire that they may be encouraged and not give out by the way and conclude you cannot go any farther. I beseech you, my friends, to lift up your heads in hope, because the Spirit of Truth is alive as I believe, and is extending salvation to all who are in this house, if they will only yield to the invitation.” – Ruth Ann Stanton (1820–1903)
“Neither look at the enemies’ strength, nor at your own weakness; but look unto Jesus, the blessed Author of your convincement and faith: the mighty one, on whom God hath laid help for all those that believe in his name, receive his testimony, and live in his doctrine; who said to his dear followers of old, Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom; and they that endure to the end shall be saved. I will not leave you comfortless, said he; I will come to you; he that is with you shall be in you.” – William Penn (1644–1718)