Quaker Studies

Transformative Faith and the Theological Response of the Quakers to the Boston Executions

Quaker Studies (2016), 21, (1), 15–32.

Abstract

Scholarly discussion of the early Quakers has rarely considered the Quakers’ theological understanding of their persecution. The focus has instead been political or legal, leading to a view of the early Quakers in retreat and conforming to society’s expectations. This article focusses on the theological response to the Boston executions (1659–61) in order to demonstrate that the Quakers in fact appropriated their suffering positively through theological engagement with adversity. The fundamental tenets of Quakerism were used to formulate a response based on the distinctive Quaker theological anthropology and hope for a transformation of the individual. From this, Quakers constructed an apocalyptic world view in which they understood their persecutors to be provoking the judgment of God. Early Quakers were much less defensive than has often been implied, and their adversity offered a vehicle for a potent and creative expression of their faith.

Transformative Faith and the Theological Response of the Quakers to the Boston Executions

Abstract

Scholarly discussion of the early Quakers has rarely considered the Quakers’ theological understanding of their persecution. The focus has instead been political or legal, leading to a view of the early Quakers in retreat and conforming to society’s expectations. This article focusses on the theological response to the Boston executions (1659–61) in order to demonstrate that the Quakers in fact appropriated their suffering positively through theological engagement with adversity. The fundamental tenets of Quakerism were used to formulate a response based on the distinctive Quaker theological anthropology and hope for a transformation of the individual. From this, Quakers constructed an apocalyptic world view in which they understood their persecutors to be provoking the judgment of God. Early Quakers were much less defensive than has often been implied, and their adversity offered a vehicle for a potent and creative expression of their faith.


Details

Author details

Ward, Madeleine