Review Of "Reasons For Hope: The Faith And Future Of The Friends Church" By J. Punshon

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Punshon (emer., Earlham College, and author of several well-received books on Quaker history and practices) seeks to provide a compendium of evangelical Quaker theology. His intended audience is those Quakers in Friends United Meeting and the Evangelical Friends Alliance, probably two-thirds of all American Quakers, whose recent numerical decline parallels mainline churches like Methodists and Presbyterians. Evangelical Friends, argues Punshon, fail in the marketplace of religion because they have been unable to combine Quaker traditions, 19th-century holiness influences, and evangelical emphases. The book examines major doctrines (the inward light of Christ, salvation, church, scriptures, worship, millennialism) in order to show the compatibility of the three components as well as the distinctiveness of evangelical Quakerism. (Liberal Quakers will find themselves described in negative stereotypes.) The sources are mostly non-Quakers and the index is inadequate (e.g., no list of biblical citations and omission of George Fox). The writing is straightforward and the arguments clearly presented, but-- except for a few comments on postmodernism--Punshon ignores most recent scholarship about the Bible and theology. The book will be useful to evangelical Quakers as a reference or study guide. Recommended for graduate or divinity school collections dealing in contemporary American religion.


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