Universal Love

Universal Love is the belief in the right that every person equally is allowed to love and be loved.

Equality of love from the Spirit is available to all faiths and backgrounds, Universal Love leads to a compassion-centered life. No one faith can claim to know all the answers and by taking a universal approach to Quakerism, Friends can find, explore and learn more about their own and other Friends’ spiritual journey.

This is carried out with openness, tolerance, love and friendship.

“Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.”

Isaac Penington

It may seem strange to think in this day and age, but when the Quakers first began in the mid 17th century Universal Love was a highly controversial belief. This was because it took power away from the Church of England who claimed to have the authority, on behalf of God, to say who was and wasn’t worthy of acceptance.

In 1676, the Quaker theologian Robert Barclay wrote Treatise on Universal Love, in which he writes:

“There of necessity must be wanting universal love and charity.”

Robert Barclay

The ‘necessity’ of Universal Love was born out of the need to create a peaceful society out of the death and destruction caused by the English Civil War Period (1642 – 1651). Historically, Universal Love goes alongside Free Grace, which is the belief that you are unconditionally loved by the Spirit, regardless of what ‘works’ you do.

Writing over 300 years later, the 20th Century American Civil Rights Quaker, Bayard Rustin called for change through love saying:

“Loving your enemy is manifest in putting your arms not around the man but the social situation, to take power from those who misuse it – at which point they can become human too.”

Bayard Rustin

Whether it be for equality, peace or friendship, the necessity of Universal Love in the 21st century remains as true now as it did when first practiced.

“To turn all we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the business of our lives.”

John Woolman

Image from imagekind.com

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