Human Nature Perspectives of Quakers and Fundamentalists The main argument for the dissimilarities between Quakerism and 1Fundamentalism is their particular beliefs regarding human nature, specifically on what human nature vitally is. Quakers place an emphasis on what they term ‘the divine Light within”, while Fundamentalists put emphasis on human nature’s sinful ways. Their opposing views regarding human nature lead to an interesting debate on theology and consequently the way humans behave.
In comparing the conflicting beliefs of Quakers and Fundamentalists tit regard to human nature, it can be concluded that the Quakers’ theological affirmation or the affirmation of the “divine Light Within” is perhaps the most important element Of their view on human nature. However, in contrast, Fundamentalists hold a greater emphasis on the sinful nature of mankind. This primary theory in Fundamentalist belief plays a large role in other key fundamentalist beliefs such as “humankind exists in a fallen state, from which humans are utterly incapable of extracting ourselves; consequently, humans need an external power for salvation” (King n.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the major differences of these two views on human nature in depth and how their views are central to their religious beliefs and practices. The story of Genesis provides a main justification for both these deviating views on human nature. The first account of creation states that humans are formed “in the image of God” and is rather in line with Quaker ideals. Quakers believe an intimacy between human nature and God exists, that there is a shared likeness and goodness between the two.
The next account of reaction, the story of the Fall from the Garden of Eden, is more harmonious with a Fundamentalist approach to human nature. It emphasizes the belief that human nature is essentially defiant, corrupt, and evil. In this view, human nature is separate from God because of the removal of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and subsequently God’s anger and disappointment towards them. It is clear that the main difference in the beliefs between Quakers and Fundamentalists is their completely opposite views of human nature: the “divine Light Within” for Quakerism and the sinfulness of humans for
Fundamentalists. But what is human sinfulness? Human sinfulness or “original sin” is the notion that Adam and Eve’s sinful ways and disobedience of God’s instructions has been inherited by their descendents – all of mankind. Essentially stating that humans are born with sin as a consequence Of Adam and Eve’s estrangement and separation from God because Of their disobedience to his rule. This is fundamental condition of human nature according to Fundamentalists. This notion of human nature originated in the theology of Augustine.
As indicated by Augustine (d. 30), prior to the Adam and Eve’s banishment from Eden, humans lacked the ability to commit sin. Yet, after Adam and Eve were banned from Eden, they could not avoid sinning. Fundamentalists believe at their core human nature will sin, no matter what-fundamentalism derives its view of human nature from Augustine, Luther and Calvin (King n. D. ). Basically, Fundamentalism embraces a rather pessimistic view of human nature where it is impossible for humans not to commit sin. Humans sin continually, in everything they do.
In a Fundamentalists view of human nature, human nines are unable to steer clear of the fact that everything they do is a result of their selfishness and desires. Prior to the Fall, Fundamentalists believe that humans lived in a harmony and united environment with God. The Fall marked the onset of mankind’s separation from God and God’s will. Human nature is considered separate from God, therefore, humans act on their free will and not God’s will. Quakers embrace a more positive view of human nature. They believe that humans have the possibility not to sin.
This notion is rooted in their belief in the “divine Light Within”. This view can be supported in the prologue to the Gospel of John in the Quaker Bible. This particular gospel begins with John associating Jesus as the Word, or the divine standard of reasoning that connects the nature of humans to God. John further states of Jesus, ‘What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (Buckley & Angel 2006). This light “enlightens everyone” (Buckley & Angel 2006).
The divine light, which Jesus allows into the nature of humans, is what sakes it possible for human beings not to sin. In the Gospel of John, Jesus States, “those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God” (Buckley & Angel 2006). Basically, since human beings are linked to God, human nature is not separate from God. All human actions are a expression of one’s self and since God has essentially enlightened humans, human beings are free from being corrupt in these actions. A Quakers biblical view of the action of humans is that they are “done in God. Nonetheless, the founder of Quakerism, George Fox, had a complex dilemma when he disputed the belief of unavoidable human sin. He even wrote, “the professors [those who profess belief in Christ but do not know Christ experientially] were all in a rage, all pleading for sin and imperfection, and could not endure to hear talk of perfection, and of an holy and sinless life” (King n. D. ). So, does the belief of Quakers that the “divine Light Within” signify that humans will never sin and that it is human nature never to do wrong? Quakers feel it is necessary to confront and take responsibility for their own sinful ways.
This is part of their own morality, selfishness, and wrongdoing. The diaries of many early Quakers record their profound despair at the depths of the moral and spiritual depravity that they found within (King n. D. ). However, they also believed that after facing all this, it was essential to undergo an inward conversion away from this condition of moral and spiritual corruption to a condition of moral and spiritual purity by discovering and heeding the inward light of Christ that was able to lead them into a condition of truth and moral purity if they would attend to it (King n. D. ).
Modern Quakers hardly ever refer to spiritual “perfection. ” Therefore, according to Quakers, while human beings will ultimately commit sin, the key point is that there is a possibility for human beings not to sin and that it is In our human nature to desire to act and live our lives in a pure manner. With Quakers, the idea of human nature is that humans are connected to God and therefore it is not possible for human beings to be sinful. Human beings are exposed to the “divine Light within” which is why Quakers feel that it is possible not to commit sin and that human nature is in a sense acting in the mage of God.
This is because God exists in humans and is not separate. However, in Fundamentalism, human beings are separated and alienated from God, so human nature derives from oneself and not from God, which is why humans are inherently prone to sin. In conclusion, the differences between Quakerism and Fundamentalists can be summed up as Quakers putting an emphasis on the “divine Light Within”, that human beings are created in God’s image, the existence of a belief of inner morality and spiritual purity, and view human nature optimistically.