The Quaker Way: A Rediscovery
By Rex Ambler
This is a guide on to how to be a Quaker. Rex Ambler is an English Quaker, teacher and political theologian. For years he has studied the early Quakers in an effort to understand what did they do, how did they think, what did they feel, how did they suffer, how did they organize, how did they live. He has done this in order to know the secret of their vitality, conviction, solidarity and success. And now to present that to you and me.
I have read the book five times. Once to read it and learn. Once to read it and decide with two others if we should teach this book at our local meeting and how to approach teaching it. Then I read it three times at the three times we ran the course during which I listened to others talk about how the text impacted them, challenged them to change, and allowed the text to impact me and challenge me to change.
But there are a welter of good books about Quakers written by great women and men who have studied and understand Quakers. Yes, and they cover topics and times that Rex does not. If you want to know about Quakers there are better and bigger books. But this one tells you how to be a Quaker, as the Seventeenth Century Quakers were. What might you learn?
• We are Friends of the Truth. Our fundamental task is to find the Truth about ourselves and as we understand that we will understand the Truth in others that we have obscured in the process of hiding from ourselves.
• We are searching for God, but we seek God as God appears within each of us and directs us through our lives.
• We are not on a lonely search. We have our fellow Friends of the Truth. While we expect that God has given us a measure of the Truth we expect to go even deeper as we and our Friends meet particularly in worship.
• In making even our most mundane decisions we gather as a group, not to follow the will of the strongest members or even the wisest members, not to follow the majority, not even to follow a consensus, but with the expectation that with time and patience and open hearted communication the will of God will become apparent to us.
• We have no rules, no commandments. We follow the light within, bringing our self to each new situation with fresh eyes awaiting the direction of God in these particular circumstances. (The Testimonies are not rules, they are what most seeking Quakers do most of the time in most circumstances!)
• Our primary method of evangelizing is to allow others to see who we have become. We “walk cheerfully over the earth answering that of God in everyone.” If we do this well others will join us.
• As Jesus suggested we change things as does leaven buried in dough. By first joining with the other, learning their lives, and then bringing about change together.
That is the Table of Contents paraphrased. I thought I “knew” most of this before I ever read the book. I have now read the book five times and the places where I can grow are still being revealed. I suspect we will teach this again to my own edification as well as that of others. I might say The Quaker Way by Rex Ambler could become the Bible of Quakerism, except most Quakers don’t say things like that, at least not most of the time.