"You are my witnesses" : witness and testimony in the Biblical and Quaker traditions

by Tom Gates

Pamphlet, 2015



Call number

CP 435


Wallingford, PA : Pendle Hill Publications, 2015.

User reviews

LibraryThing member QuakerReviews
This pamphlet takes off from Isaiah 44:8, "You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me?" and explores what it means to be God's witnesses. After discussing both transcendence and immanence, this leads Gates on to ask us, What is Friends' testimony now, as we live in this modern age of "empire and exile?" He also asks the crucial question of how we transcend the temptation to despair, or our tendency to avoid facing our fear and grief for the world. He explains the basic principles of Active Hope, citing the book of that name by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.
This is a lovely and enlightening discussion of faithfulness and testimony in our own age, making crystal clear the oneness of what we often think of as two: spiritual devotion and testimony. The theology is useful as part of the project of renewing Quakerism for our times. The pamphlet is based on a series of Bible talks at New England Yearly Meeting 2014.
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LibraryThing member kaulsu
This pamphlet spends three quarters of its space with exegesis/history and one quarter on environmental concerns. Gates is identifying attempts at ecological salvation for the earth with a testimony the 21st century needs to embrace for human survival, but the work is unbalanced.

The section in the middle of the pamphlet subtitled "Testimonies as Stories of Witness," is quite moving. In it, Gates speaks to the notion (I'm sure it is not original with him) that God does not call us to be successful, but to be faithful; acting with faith, we become effective. We can be proud of our history, "but what are we doing now?" he asks. We need to be aware that each of us has a personal testimony (Thomas Kelly, _A Testimony of Devotion_) that we need to uncover and pursue--that "we cannot die on every cross, nor our we expected to" (Kelly).

But then the last quarter prescribes our 21st c. testimony to be focused on the sustainability of our biosphere. It seems that Gates has determined that he is to take up the cross that Joanna Macy, Chris Johnstone, and Doug Gwyn have recently lifted up...and that we each of us also need to shoulder.

It is a pamphlet worth reading, but I expected more coherence from Gates.
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Local notes

Pendle Hill Pamphlet 435

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Call number

CP 435


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