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BAPTISTS AND QUAKERS—LEFT WING PURITANS? By Donald F. Durnbaugh* With quiet British understatement, a sentence in the foreword of the revised edition of Braithwaite's standard history of Quakerism underscored a major shift in historical interpretation. This announced the dropping of the introductory chapter by Rufus M. Jones "linking Quakerism to the mystical movements" of the Continent and England and 'interpreting the religious experience of Friends." The reason? "This interpretive chapter has regretfully been omitted on the ground that recent studies have, in the minds of a number of scholars, put Quakerism in a rather different light." Evidently Rufus Jones, hailed by his biographer as a "master Quaker" was no longer considered a master historian as well.1 The editor of the revised edition was the biblical scholar and Quaker historian Henry J. Cadbury. In one of his notes incorporating recent research which was added to the Braithwaite book he described the "different light" now shining on Quaker origins. Rather than inheritors and fulfillers of a long line of "Spiritual Reformers," as Jones saw them, the Friends are to be considered "a natural extreme to the whole spectrum of English Puritan thought"—in short, as left-wing Puritans.2 Cadbury's colleague Frederick B. Tolles took the same line in the introduction he contributed to the second volume of the revised edition by noting that "the attention of scholars in seventeenth-century intellectual and religious history has turned away from the remote, somewhat problematic, continental and mystical roots of Quakerism and has come to focus on its more immediate English Puritan origins." He likewise commented that modern studies have revealed "the *Professor of Church History, Bethany Theological Seminary, Oak Brook, Illinois. 1. L. Hugh Donraster, "Foreword to the Second Edition," in William C. Braithwaite, The Beginnings of Quakerism, ed. Henry J. Cadbury (Cambridge : University Press, 1955), p. vii. The biography is David Hmshaw, Rufus Jones: Master Quaker (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1951). Chapter 22 is devoted to Jones as "An Interpreter and Exponent of Mystical Religion," pp. 210-220. 67 68QUAKER HISTORY degree to which Quakerism was a natural, almost a predictable outgrcttvth of Puritanism."3 Both scholars agreed that a pivotal role in the reassessment was played by the authority on English Nonconformity, Geoffrey F. Nuttall. His slim volume on The Holy Spirit in Puritan Faith and Experience (1946) characterized the early Friends as indicators of "the direction of the Puritan movement as a whole." Nuttall reported that some critical contemporaries saw the Quakers as the "fag-end of Reformation"·—as enthusiasm run riot—but he countered that "others may hold that Quakerism is true Puritanism, purged of extraneous elements and carried to a conclusion not only logical but desirable, and that in Quakerism, with its fresh perception of the implications of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, is the beginning of a new cycle, full of promise for the future." Readers of Nuttall's book have no trouble in determining that Nuttall identifies himself with the latter position.* The note by Cadbury referred to describes also the comparable shift in interpretation of the origins and genius of the forerunners of the Quakers on the English Nonconformist scene, the Baptists: "Indeed even the British Baptists owe less to the Continental Ana2 .Braithwaite, Beginnings, ? 544. For a comparable view, see Hugh Barbour, The Quakers in Puritan England (New Ha\ eri and Forden Yale University Press, 1964) : "Even characteristically Quaker teachings were often puritan attitudes pushed to severe conclusions . . . Their conflicts with puritan leaders had the loving desperation of a family feud" (p. 2). 3.Frederick B. Tolles, '"Introduction," in William C. B aiihwaite, The Second Period of Quakerism, ed. Henry J. Cadbury (Cambridge: University Press, 1961 ) , pp. xxvi-xxvn 4 Geoffrey F. Nuttall, The Holy Spirit in Puritan Faith and Experience (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1946), pp. viii, 13-14. Interestingly, both Jones and Nuttall refer to the German scholar Theodor Sippe 1! as inspiring their research. The importance of the Holy Spirit in the estimation of Nuttall is emphasized in his book, Studies in Christian Enthusiasm (Wallingford, Pa : Pendle Hill, 1948) : "I believe that a recovery of personal religious experience as the center of our faith...


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