Saturday, April 14, 2012

Elton Trueblood’s place to stand

 A Quaker I've never heard of, and his book: A Place to Stand.  H/T Donald Haynes below,
One of the many old wells I have re-dug has been the writings of Elton Trueblood, perhaps the greatest Quaker of the 20th century. While teaching at Stanford, this brilliant man was tapped as a consultant to the writing of the United Nations charter, and he often spent overnight sojourns in San Francisco as World War II was coming to an end and dreams were being shaped for world peace. 
In browsing through my underlined sentences in Dr. Trueblood’s autobiography, I found this profound insight: “As I sat in one of the San Francisco meetings concerning the formation of the United Nations, it occurred to me that world reconstruction, about which we were conferring, is impossible apart from a moral basis, and that in this regard the Decalogue is as pertinent as ever. With speed came the conviction that all of the commandments could be restated in positive form.” 
The series of sermons in Stanford’s Memorial Chapel that came from that brainstorm were converted to a book-length manuscript on such insights as adultery is wrong precisely because fidelity is right. Today we see, more than in 1945 at the close of that horrific war, that without a moral basis, no free society can abide with any modicum of peace and tranquility, debate and compromise, or liberty of conscience.  
In Trueblood’s 1968 volume enunciating his theology, he taps the rich reservoir of what he calls “witnesses to truth,” and writes profoundly, “What we desperately need is the literature of witness in which men who have reached a firm place to stand are able to tell us the road by which they have come and why it was taken.” As a title for his book on theology, Trueblood chose the phrase, A Place to Stand.
The United Methodist Portal


Kim Hampton said...

Elton Trueblood, Richard Foster and Thomas Kelly are the biggest names in 20th century Quaker theology. If you ever get a chance to take a trip to Richmond, Indiana to Earlham College you can see a lot of their writings in the Lilly Library Quaker Collection. And if you are in the Earlham School of Religion classroom building, there is a portrait of Elton Trueblood in the Trueblood Room.
(can't you tell that's where I went to seminary?)

Bill Baar said...

Thanks Kim. I know nothing about Quaker theology.... I'm going to have to try for that trip to Earlham which isn't all that far for me.