Book Release | “Quaker Pneumatology” in T&T Clark Handbook of Pneumatology

I received my contributor copy yesterday of the book T&T Clark Handbook of Pneumatology (eds. Daniel Castelo and Kenneth M. Loyer, 2020), in which I contributed the chapter, “Quaker Pneumatology.” I promise this is a different book than the one I posted about in August! The topic of my chapter is similar to my “Quaker Spirituality” chapter in Protestant Spiritual Traditions, Vol. 2, but it’s a fairly different book overall. This Handbook of Pneumatology contains 37 chapters by scholars from a variety of denominations and Christian traditions. The book begins by considering pneumatology in the New Testament and how this relates to Christology, then considers the Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures.

There are chapters related to the Spirit and other disciplines, particularly science in general and ecology in particular, with a chapter on the Spirit and creation.

Several chapters consider the development of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the church councils, and the ensuing Catholic and Eastern Orthodox understandings.

Then, scholars consider the pneumatological perspectives of a variety of denominations, including Anglicans, Wesleyans, Quakers, and Pentecostals and other charismatics. Global and contextual perspectives are considered, including African, Asian, Asian American, the American Global South, Black, Latinx, and feminist perspectives.

Concluding chapters are summative, surveying the understanding of the Spirit in the canon, the process of discernment, the mystical aspects of Christian spirituality and renewal, and the anointing and power that is communicated to believers through the work of the Spirit.

While I’ve only gotten to skim some of these chapters so far, they look exciting, and the scholarship is deep and rich. I am looking forward to digging into this text more deeply. I would love an excuse to teach from this text! It would be an excellent way to introduce seminary students to the variety of perspectives on the Holy Spirit across Christian traditions, across the biblical witness, across time, and from a variety of global and racial perspectives. Since the scholars are often writing from the perspective of their own tradition, this is an excellent resource for understanding each denomination’s and group’s self-understanding of their pneumatology.

In my section on Quaker pneumatology, I said that in some ways, Quakerism is all about pneumatology, because of our emphasis on each person’s ability to connect with the Spirit themselves. On the other hand, since we don’t emphasize dogma, we do not exactly have what one would call an articulated pneumatology as a denomination. I discussed some of the amazing and life-giving benefits of the freedom that comes with each one having access to the Spirit’s guidance, as well as some of the difficulties in discerning together what is actually from the Spirit. I talked about ongoing revelation through the Inward Light, and the way our understanding of each one’s access to the Spirit nudges us toward our emphasis on equity and justice. I spoke of how we are both a mystical and prophetic people who speak truth to power in public witness, and we are a very inward and communal people who are very contemplative and quiet. Here’s a favorite quote:

Friends abolished the hierarchy of the priesthood and the divine right of the monarchy, believing in the simple yet frightening idea that God can and does speak to the people. Friends cannot rely on a priest or a political ruler to discern for them, for they have personal responsibility in their own faith journey. Each one can be a prophet, a messenger from God, in connection with the Spirit; therefore, each is called to live a life of radical faithfulness that challenges unjust social and religious situations across time and place.

(Cherice Bock, “Quaker Pneumatology,” T&T Clark Handbook of Pneumatology, 2020, p. 242)

This book differs from Protestant Spiritual Traditions, Vol. 2 (to which I contributed “Quaker Spirituality”) in the obvious sense, that Protestant Spiritual Traditions only includes Protestants, whereas this Handbook covers a range of Christian traditions. The chapters in this Handbook are briefer and provide more of an overview. This Handbook offers a theological understanding of the Holy Spirit, whereas Protestant Spiritual Traditions contains a bit more of the lived experiences of the spirituality of those in each tradition covered. While the Handbook is more comprehensive, Protestant Spiritual Traditions offers a deeper dive into the selected traditions.

2 Replies to “Book Release | “Quaker Pneumatology” in T&T Clark Handbook of Pneumatology”

  1. Thanks for your amazing work, Cherice. Love following along. I wonder if you would ever be willing to post a reading list of classic and contemporary Quaker thought?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Justin! Good to hear from you! That’s a good question. I would actually suggest a great place to start would be the journal Quaker Religious Thought, all of which is available as full text digitally (through the last 18 months). It goes back to 1959, and it covers a lot of the classic Friends and pertinent topics in Quaker theology, and then you can also see who are the contemporary people who are writing in Quaker circles in the last several decades, then go look up their other work. There are also book reviews of recent works by Quaker scholars, so you can look at those reviews and see what’s been published lately that you might be interested in looking into further. Here’s a list of all the back issues and their contents. There’s an event coming up Dec 11-12 that will form the basis for a future issue–each year the Quaker Theological Discussion Group meets (usually in connection with the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature) to present papers, and this year it will be virtual, so you could easily attend. The topic will be Quaker pastoral theology and vocational ministry and has a great lineup of presenters. Check out the event page here, and it has a link to register.

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