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date: 30 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Because Friends have relied so heavily on direct divine guidance, discernment has been central. Quakers have regarded leadings as individual, Spirit-led expressions of their testimonies, which are the corporate witness to their distinctive ethical principles. Early Friends described a process of attentiveness and awareness, open yet keenly alert to the possibility of self-deception. Contemporary practices include the clearness committee for individual decisions and, in groups decisions in Meeting for Business, the search for the ‘sense of the meeting’ that indicates unity with God and one another. Practices of discernment have responded to wider social influences, from liberal Protestantism and Evangelicalism in the English-speaking world, to understandings of self and community in Latin America and East Africa.

Keywords: clearness committee, discernment, leadings, meeting, business, sense of meeting, testimonies, unity

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