Ben Pink Dandelion delivered the Quaker Study talks at Canadian Yearly Meeting 2013.
In "The End of the World, the Beginning of Quakerism, and What Happened Next,” Ben opened by arguing that Christianity is a religion founded on frustrated anticipation. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ offered humanity a glimpse of what will soon come for everybody, with the second coming of Christ. The challenge for Christianity was to help humanity wait faithfully for this global transformation, in the ‘meantime’, before the end time.
Early Friends of the 1650s saw, and felt themselves to be, God’s vanguard for the unfolding of the inward second coming of Christ. Out of this experience of inward end-time, came a particular and peculiar lifestyle that denoted Quakers as a separated community. However, after twenty years or so, Friends moved away from framing their experience in these ‘end time’ terms.
Today Quakers are less anxious about ‘the world’ and rarely talk of the second coming. Yet we still have a prophetic voice, and a legacy of structures and processes born out of those beginnings, that nurture and test our concerns.
Ben Pink Dandelion is a professor who studies the sociology, history and theology of Quaker studies and in the wider sociology of religion. He founded the Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies in 1999 at the University of Birmingham and now direct its work.