Robert Barclay

As Light Is Sown

Robert Barclay (1648-1690) produced the masterpiece remains the cornerstone attempt at a systematic Quaker theology. Unlike Isaac Penington, who frequently speaks in the first-person singular, and William Penn, who urges his readers to look for the working of Light in the lives of others throughout history, Barclay instead rises to voice a united front for Friends as a movement. Writing principally in first-person plural, he reaches beyond his own experience to earn the endorsement of George Fox and other public Friends.

Joining with Friends in 1666, Barclay came with unique preparation – the strict Presbyterianism of his childhood in Scotland combined with Jesuit tutoring in Paris to ground him in theology, church history, and Latin. This preparation proved especially apt when he attempted a systematic Quaker theology we’ve come to know as Barclay’s Apology. In defending Friends against many of the accusations cast against them, and setting them apart…

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