Bill Taber seems to have much to say to liberal Friends with Conservative leanings. I’ve often seen a copy of his pamphlet Four Doors to Meeting for Worship in the hands of some of my friends, or seen it quoted. When my local meeting was giving away duplicates from our library, I picked up several Pendle Hill pamphlets and have been using them as devotional reading.
The latest to reach my coffee table is The Prophetic Stream which has yielded some precious insights. I’ve typed several passages into my file of quotes to use for email signatures. I also plan to pass them on to be considered for the next edition of our yearly meeting’s Faith and Practice.
Check out these three:
This lifelong Quaker, a skilled craftsman, was well past middle age when he felt nudged to begin a daily devotional reading and worship in the early morning before he went to work. He had done this for many months with no significant change when, as he put it, he sat down one morning and looked into his heart, and he knew “that Someone had been there” because of the new life and genuine gentleness which he suddenly and unexpectedly found there. I like that story because, for this man there was no need for the laying on of hands to bring the Holy Spirit, nor did this man even need to be in a gathered meeting of Quaker prophets to “catch” the spirit. In time he became empowered with a gift of gentle, discerning, and prophetic ministry. In a way he had prepared for this by a lifetime of living out the Quaker rhythms; in a way he prepared for this by doing the early morning reading and worship; but only when God was ready did my friend unexpectedly “catch” the spirit, the way one might catch the measles, without warning.
The Quaker understanding of faith …. sees faith as a result of the inward work of Christ, which, if we translate the jargon, leads to another nonverbal image for faith which sees it as a quiet flow of energy from the Divine into us, a quiet flow of energy which allows the old and ego-centered self gradually or suddenly to become transformed, making it possible to live more nearly as Christ taught us to live.
The traditional Quaker experience is that faith is largely a result of being in the presence of God. Such faith, like any of our faculties, must be used or it will wither away. …. A living faith …. requires an active responding, a stepping out into the darkness, a trusting that our Divine Friend will support us as we move forward in the dangerous but exciting stream.
-William Taber, The Prophetic Stream, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #256. 1984. Philadelphia: Pendle Hill.