The Struggle to Shine: The Inward Light and Quaker Children and Youth, 1652-1762
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The Religious Society of Friends, also called the Quakers, were a group of antinomian Christians whose origins lay in the chaotic period of the English Revolution. They were characterized by a radical belief in the spiritual equality of all peoples, no matter their sex, race, or social status. This equality was based on the Quaker notion that an element of the divine, the “inward light” of Christ, existed within all people. This equality also encompassed Quaker children and youths, in various ways that changed over time in the movement’s history. This thesis relies on printed and manuscript sources, mostly Quaker in origin. It explores the relationship between the Quaker belief in the inward light and the lives and portrayals of the religion’s youngest members. This thesis argues that the theology of the inward light was critical to the experience and conception of Quaker childhood and youth.