- Paperback: 269 pages
- Publisher: Friends United Press; 2nd edition (December 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0944350534
- ISBN-13: 978-0944350539
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 5.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Living Faith: An Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Beliefs, 2nd Edition 2nd Edition
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About the Author
Wilmer (Wil) Cooper grew up among conservative Wilburite Friends in eastern Ohio. He is a graduate of Wilmington College, with graduate degrees from Haverford College, Yale Divinity School, and Vanderbilt University. The founding dean of Earlham School of Religion (1960-78), he taught at ESR through 1985. Wil Cooper is also author of The ESR Story: A Quaker Dream Come True, The Quaker Testimony of Integrity in the Religious Society of Friends, and Growing Up Plain. Wil and Emily Cooper are members of West Richmond (IN) Friends Meeting.
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Much of the book covers what I already believe, and knew what Friends believe. But it organized it in an understandable manner, helping me to more fully make sense of the disparate beliefs, within Friends, and within myself. And some portions I had still never fully understood till I read the book. For instance, Cooper's discussion of the sacred in all things, while I have heard it referred to in passing, I have never seen in so well explained, so clearly, so convincingly.
The beauty of Cooper's treatment is that it's not just expository of Friend's beliefs. He encourages us to become more, to change- not into something different, but to grow to become more fully Friends. He gives a very balanced treatment of all friends, from different countries, and different persuasions- the more Hicksite, universalist Friends General Conference, and the more Christ-centered Friends United Meetings and (my own) Evangelical Friends International. Cooper fully affirms that all are Friends, with different paths, and both shoots of the Quaker tree contain part of the original Truth of George Fox.
I have never seen another book that is so easy to read and simultaneously so fully shows the beliefs of the Friends.
Reasons for Hope: The Faith and Future of the Friends Church
Each chapter deals with a specific question in the history of Quakerism, starting with the history of the movement and ending with "Future Prospects." Each chapter is a gem of succinct exposition. And, while the sympathies of Prof. Cooper clearly lie with the conservative, Christ-centered view of Quakerism; on the whole he fairly represents the liberal view. There is a dearth of information on Universalist Quakerism, and its opposite of extreme evangelism, but the author clearly warns the reader that his intent is only to present the "mainstream" range of Quaker history.
My one criticism of the work is that in presenting the possible future of Quakerism, Dr. Cooper does not go far enough in laying out its potential. It is obvious that he shares, as I do, Rufus Jones' view that Quakerism is the seed of a movement and not just a Christian sect. But we diverge in our views, in that Wilmer Cooper views Quakerism as the core or essence of Christianity, while I see it as a movement that has transcended its original Christian roots. In my view George Fox, has had the same impact on Christianity as Jesus did on Judaism. Perhaps George Fox still lacks his St. Paul. But that is a matter for another article. For now, I recommend this wonderful volume.
When I first became a Quaker, this was the first book I read. Having gone through a huge variety of Quaker literature since that time, I am so glad that this was the book I started with!
Cooper's concise, rich volume gives the essential introductory information that anyone - including practicing Quakers - would benefit from. Crucially, Cooper takes a balanced approach in his description of the Friends tradition. He provides a broad perspective that is probably as close as humanly possible to being non-sectarian, given the entrenched divisions within the Religious Society of Friends with regards to faith and practice.