The impact of secularisation on British Quaker ecclesiology

Cummins, Penelope (2020). The impact of secularisation on British Quaker ecclesiology. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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It has been a charism of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) that major decisions have been made not by a small leadership group at the apex of the organisation but by the largest possible gathering of the worshipping community seeking to discern the ‘will of God’ through their quest for unity.

This thesis discusses the centralisation of Quaker decision-making; especially since the introduction, in response to Charity Commission requirements, of managing trustees in 2006. It explores the implications of these changes in the ecclesiology of the Religious Society of Friends through reviewing the shifting role and content of the annual Yearly Meeting, with reference to the Quaker concept of ‘Gospel Order’ and also by a review of decisions reserved by the trustees rather than left to the discernment of the wider body.

This study acknowledges the fragmentation of belief among Quakers and identifies the effects of this and two further features of internal secularisation described by Bryan Wilson and Steve Bruce: ‘the displacement, in matters of behaviour, of religious rules and principles by demands that accord with strictly technical criteria’; and ‘the replacement of a specifically religious consciousness by an empirical, rational, instrumental orientation’.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: Other
Other Funders: self-funded, assistance from the Quaker Higher Education Grants Committee
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations


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