Zion in Crisis
Zion in Crisis
Friends as the Israel of Old
Chapter One, “Zion in Crisis,” traces the imbricated relationship between the Quakers' evolving theological identity and the political movements of the late eighteenth century. The universalist propensity of religion coexisted uneasily with the particularizing tendency of nationalism and the state-strengthening expressions of patriotism, and the Society seized on the Jewish faith tradition in order to resist these twin pressures. In particular, ministers on both sides of the Atlantic drew on four key concepts from the Jewish faith tradition and relied on these tenets when confronting the pressures wrought by warfare and nationalism: (1) A communal belief in their identity as a “chosen people” subject first and foremost to divine law. (2) A shared history of persecution that defined their relationship with the governments under which they lived. (3) A reciprocal experience of diaspora that bound together their scattered community. (4) A collective responsibility to prophesy in order to stir others to repentance and reform. Taken together, these four tenets represent the Quakers' interpretation of the Zion tradition during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
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