chapter  4
16 Pages

Early Quakers and Divine Liberation from the Universal Power of Sin

ByCarole Dale Spencer

This chapter focuses on the distinct early Quaker belief in perfection as divine liberation from the universal power of sin. It demonstrates how the traditional Christian view of sin and evil finds divine resolution in the Quaker concept of perfection. The Quaker doctrine of the fall is found in Robert Barclay's fourth proposition 'Concerning the condition of Man in the fall'. Their confidence that sin and evil could be overcome and holiness restored through the Light of Christ distinguished early Quaker belief from that of their Puritan contemporaries. For early Quakers the goal of the spiritual life for every Christian is the recovery of the divine likeness, a process in the Eastern Orthodox tradition called theosis or deification, and often described as 'perfection'. The spirituality of the French and Italian Quietists had such strong correspondences to Quakerism that by the early eighteenth century the writings of the most prominent Quietists had become virtually a part of the 'Quaker canon'.