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Quakers and The Lamb's War: A Hermeneutic for Confronting Evil
20th Century

International Historic Peace Church Consultation
Bienenberg Theological Seminary, Switzerland, June 25-28, 2001
Gene Hillman (Reprinted by request of author with permission)

I am choosing the publication by the American Friends Service Committee, of the pamphlet "Speak Truth to Power"12 in 1954, to symbolize the transition from this passive stance of peacefulness back to the active (and activist) role of peacemaker. It was published at the advent of the "cold war" and reflects the danger of the institutional evil that was perceived at that time. Truth is a very important word for Friends, probably second only to "The Light of Christ" theologically. Truth is another basic category of our testimony (as in "the Truth testimony") but is much more than that. Truth has power. Before shortening our name to simply "Friends" (as in The Religious Society of Friends) we used the name "Friends of Truth" and Truth is often capitalized in our writings to distinguish the Truth of the paraclete from a more conventional truth.

Two social conflicts in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century influenced North American Friends in their witness to peace: the civil rights movement and the protest against the Vietnam. The civil rights movement in the United States in particular was a practical example of the power of non-violence. It is hard to identify where Quakers shaped the culture's witness and where the culture shaped that of the Quakers. One Quaker, Bayard Rustin, was in the inner circle of advisors to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the teachings and witness of Dr. King had a major impact of Friends in turn.

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