Are we Hicksites or Barnardites?
Not a frivolous question. I read a recent comment on who owns original Quakerism, the Orthodoxy or the Hicksite tradition. I accept that this question is still lovingly asked. And tonight, as I woke up sick around 3 or four, as I do most nights... I began to sink deeper into this question.
We certainly begin with the preaching of Hannah Bernard and the reaction to it. In many ways, Hannah is the innovator, and the reaction is driven by men... who hammer nails into the institution, like putting up plywood in the face of a coming storm.
But... that is not the defining moment. The defining moments Hicks supporting her not being read out, and then Hicks being read out. So, the Hicksite tradition is not anti Christian, nor New Age, nor Non-theist, nor Bernardist. It is that part of original Quakerism which did not set up orthodoxies by reason of keeping process moving forward.
Most meetings today, orthodox or otherwise, accept that we seek unity in a process of openness. That sense of the meeting happens, not only when all agree, but when those who disagree take themselves out of process by saying, I cannot ever accept such and such. So, to stand in the way of ... unity, to say, I am not there yet, we must keep talking, does put off the sense of a meeting, and an issue remains open, but to say, this far I will go and no further, is to take oneself out of process, and also to make a new orthodoxy. Here it is important to note, Hicks did not leave, he was cast out by some, and others did not cast him out, becoming the Hicksite tradition.
The Orthodox communities cast each other out with some regularity, there after, seeking more clearly defined and narrower unity, while it has been noted that Friends were much more rarely read out of Hicksite meetings. One can't ever answer the question, which is truly original Quakerism, as original Quakerism could not survive the growing multi-cultural environment of moving out from small English villages. If we are present to new ideas, and are open to process, inclusiveness had to happen. That some would cling to the values of the original founders is a human process which also always happens, every society grows and resists growth... that we came together is much more original Quakerism, to me, but than again, I grew up Hicksite!
Would Fox have thought twice if told that one day his teaching about inclusive process would lead people away from his observations on the nature of Christ? I don't know. No one can say they do know, and if they can, ... well, then what, are we Foxists, or Quakers? Did Fox intend a faith that would make a pope of him? Again, I doubt it, but again ( do I need to say it again :) ) ... I'm a... oh go on, ye can all say it... like the audience at a Pete Seeger concert...
Oh my, we always come back in every human politic or faith, are we defining a process or an outcome...