Richmond Declaration

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The Richmond Declaration was made by 95 Quakers (representatives of all Orthodox Gurneyite Friends Yearly Meetings, representing the vast majority of the world's Quakers at the time) in September 1887, at a conference in Richmond, Indiana. It was a declaration of faith, and although Quakers do not have a dogma or creed, the Richmond Declaration has been used as a standard by Orthodox (now represented by Friends United Meeting) and Evangelical Quakers (represented by Evangelical Friends International) ever since. The Declaration was "approved," "accepted," or "adopted" by the Orthodox Yearly Meetings of Indiana Yearly Meeting, Western, New England, New York, Baltimore, North Carolina, Iowa, and Canada. Among Orthodox Gurneyite Friends in North America, only Ohio and Philadelphia yearly meetings did not so act. The Friends United Meeting General Board reaffirmed the declaration as a statement of faith in February 2007. The Declaration appears in most books of discipline of Evangelical and Friends United Meeting yearly meetings.

The declaration states, among other things, that the holy scriptures (i.e. the Bible) were a greater authority than the inner light; this emphasis is something that many yearly meetings of Quakers do not agree upon, yet it remains a defining aspect of the successors to the Orthodox branch.

"It has ever been, and still is, the belief of the Society of Friends that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by inspiration of God; that, therefore, there can be no appeal from them to any other authority whatsoever; that they are able to make wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Jesus Christ."

Criticism[edit]

Some Quakers have a negative view of the Richmond Declaration. For example, Chuck Fager[1] argues that, among other problems, the Declaration never represented most Friends and that it has prompted an unfortunate division in the Society.

Though it was primarily written by a British Friend, Joseph Bevan Braithwaite, Britain Yearly Meeting (then called London Yearly Meeting) rejected the proposal that it be adopted. The Richmond Declaration was one factor leading to a sharp doctrinal turn for London Yearly Meeting in 1895.[2]

The Declaration is not accepted as a statement of faith by Friends General Conference or Beanite Quakerism in North America, or by most "unprogrammed" Friends in the rest of the world.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Article by Chuck Fager. Chuck Fager: "...a strong case can be made that few if any documents in our history have been the source of greater grief and trouble for Friends than the Richmond Declaration of Faith. Sadly, its long, sad and destructive history is by no means ended."
  2. ^ For rejection of the Declaration by London Yearly Meeting, see: Kennedy, Thomas Cummings British Quakerism 1860-1920: the transformation of a religious community Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-19-827035-6

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