Becoming Fully Human: Writings on Quakers and Christian Thought

By Michael Langford. Friends of the Light, 2019. 456 pages. $19.14/paperback; $4.99/eBook.

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Michael Langford has been an important voice among Friends of the Light, an organization created by a group of British Friends in 2011 “to create spaces in the world where people could come together to encourage and support each other as they explored their relationship with God.” In particular, Friends of the Light invites others to explore the unique characteristics of Quaker Christianity. Becoming Fully Human is the group’s first publication. Michael was 95 years old at the time of publication, and this work is a compendium of his thought.

The book is composed of 14 essays with titles ranging from those that have an obvious Quaker connection, such as “Did George Fox get it right?,” to those that reference early Christian works like “The Shepherd of Hermas” and “Before Christianity: The Didache.” Each section reveals a biblically literate and deeply analytical mind grappling with what it means to be a Friend and how Quaker beliefs represent a distinctive form of modern Christianity. If you are one of the many who wonder how to link the beliefs of the first-century Christians to those of the seventeenth-century seekers and to Quaker thought in the present day, this book offers one way and invites the exploration of other possible paths.

To a twenty-first-century reader, this book looks like a conventional collection of essays, but I think it bears a more important resemblance to the journals of traveling ministers in our first two centuries. Those accounts were much more than travel guides. They revealed how the ministry of public Friends helped to stitch together the early Quaker fellowship and nurse it into a religious society. More than that, they gave insight into the development of the ministers’ spiritual lives. Those journals are not light reading; they cannot be absorbed in a single bound but require readers to pause and reflect within themselves periodically. This book likewise requires intermittent deliberation. It is the distillation of decades of careful and prayerful contemplation. It invites its readers to enter into dialogue.

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