Dean Freiday  

Dean Freiday



A tribute by Arthur O. Roberts

Lay Theologian. In considering the triple task of the church: proclamation, fellowship. service, Dean Freiday contributed preeminently to the first, particularly by writing. As a lay theologian he took seriously Jesus' call to love the Lord God with one's mind. He prepared through study of theological literature, and he developed writing skills. Personal discipline enabled him to carry out research with integrity and, in a variety of written venues, to articulate credible exposition of the Christian faith. In the best sense of the word, Dean was an apologist- a defender of the faith, and ally of Church scholars from Athenagoras to Robert Barclay, a guardian of evangelical Biblical exposition, a champion of Quaker contributions to the Christian community of faith. He has made an impact. In an era often disdainful of theology, Dean's cautionary council is cogent: "A reluctance to be too precise about beliefs has resulted in indifference." (QRT #60, p.2).

Mentor. Dean served as a mentor to graduate students, persons such as Allen Hilton, Susan Kendall, Steve Perisho, Paul Anderson, and Harold and Nancy Thomas. The later recall his encouraging visits while they were at Fuller Theological Seminary, when he came west for ecumenical conferences. For these students he made integrity in scholarly research. He encouraged them. Once I wrote Dean concerning certain students at Princeton: " Thanks for your pastoral care. It means more than you my realize... If they can't come to Manasquan often, think of your efforts as a sacrifice hit to get them home professionally- or at least to second base.

Quaker Scholar. His published scholarship ranges from the 1967 publication of Barclay's Apology in Modern English to his co-authorship of Barclay's Catechism and Confession of Faith in 2001. He became editor, with Vail Pal, of Quaker Religious thought in the summer of 1979; and full editor from 1983 through 1989. In addition facilitating articles by others, he added his own creative input. In issue 49 (1980) for example, is a thoughtful exposition of "The 'Everlasting Gospel' Proclaimed by George Fox". Demonstrating careful research, Dean concludes, summarizing Fox's exposition, that "Christ's sway extends to all of existence and all of creation...as pertinent in the twentieth or twenty-first century as in the first, of the seventeenth...." (p 35)

Agent for renewal and greater unity among Friends. In an evocative article, "Christ is Still the Answer" (Truth's Bright Embrace, George Fox University Press, 1966, p. 181ff) Dean noted that "one of the most significant developments among American Friends during this last century" was the 1970 St. Louis Conference, highlighted by Everett Cattell's passionate call for unity "under the Lordship of Jesus Christ." He noted how this gathering, and the follow up "Faith and Life Conferences", brought together Friends from across the spectrum. He laments that in the face of various attacks on belief , e.g. "the death of God", "new ageism", and new forms of secularism, etc, Quakers have not together found "paths toward a Quaker future" called for in my article by that title published by three major American Quaker magazines. Dean was concerned that gains made by Faith and Life movements no be lost. I assured him that movements may lose themselves over time only to become leaven within the hearts of young people who study Quaker history. We do well to ponder Dean Freiday's concluding queries )TBE,p. 189ff0. "Are we on the 'cutting edge' or 'like a ship without a rudder?'" In a hurting world are we 'part of the solution or part of the problem?'". Are we prioritizing our callings or idolizing our structures?" 'Are we picking up the gimmicks of lukewarm Protestantism" and "avoiding deeper involvement in social justice?" Is Christ the dynamic Lord of our lives, not just a notional tenet of faith?" A reluctance to be too precise about beliefs has resulted in indifference about reformulating them to speak to out" (QRT, Vol. 60,p.2)

Ecumenist. Dean participated theologically and fraternally within the larger Christian movement, often championing the viability of Quaker beliefs before the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Christian Churches. In a little pamphlet published by his Yearly Meeting (New York, 1985) he wrote: " No other statement is as thoroughly documented in the New Testament as that John baptized "with water" but Christ would baptize "with the Holy Spirit." It occurs in each of the Gospels and twice in Acts. Dean's interfaith contacts were both gracious and tenacious! For him the family of Friends was part of the church catholic.

Encourager. I followed him as editor of Quaker Religious Thought. He was very encouraging. "Phenomenally well," was his assessment of a year after I took his place. Exaggerated, but reinforcing (a trait discovered from when I first became acquainted with him on the occasion of giving the Shrewsbury, New Jersey lecture in 1965) His encouragement took the form of sending me some delectable baked goods, to which I responded "Today I ate four delicious muffins made from he mix you sent. Thank you! Two I ate with molasses, two with honey. I prefer the former." He came to meet me at Baltimore YM 1988; I spoke to Manasquan Meeting. Our correspondence continued many years, more recently by telephone. Like most scholars, at times he could be prolix and pedantic, but he could also encapsulate insights. In 1985 I wrote: "You have done very well in stuffing Quaker theology into a 1000 word package." Referring to a book by British Quaker scholar John Punshon, Dean wrote: "Not only does he go a long way toward reconciling the two varieties of Quaker ministry, but he does so in a highly readable personal-experience style. He develops fresh material on other aspects of Quakerism. Upon learning of Dean's death, Paul Anderson, current editor of QRT sent this letter to many of us:

"Dean co-edited and edited Quaker Religious Thought from 1978-1989, and he was the founder and organizer of the Catholic and Quaker Studies series. His books include Barclay's Apology in Modern English,Nothing without Christ, and Speaking as a Friend. Two years ago Dean donated his library of over 4,000 books to the Great lakes School of Theology in Bujumbura, Burundi; Ron Stansell and others helped sort and mail the books to this center of Friends theological training in Africa. Dean's contributions will be deeply missed by Friends and others who shaped his vision for the larger work of Christ. Dean was a wonderful encouragement to many of us and a powerful example of seeking to be a witness to the truth one has received. We shall miss Dean Freiday, and yet we will always be indebted to his many contributions and faithfulness."

The Legacy. How fitting, that Paula Hampton, editor of the devotional magazine, Fruit of the Vine, for the first week of April, chose readings from Barclay's Apology in Modern English, with appropriate Scripture passages and historical notation. In editing this work, first published in 1967, and reprinted in 1991, Dean Freiday preserved for posterity the Christian witness of one of he church's great scholars, and preserved for continued "instructions in righteousness" distinctive Biblical teachings. I count it a highlight of my own scholarly career to joined with Dean in preparing a new edition (also in modern English) of Barclay's Catechism and Confession of Faith (Barclay Press, 2001)

The significance for Friends of that brilliant, Christ-centered, seventeenth-century private scholar is symbolized in our era by the renaming of a Quaker college and major Friends publisher. Our generations have been blessed by the Christ-centered scholarship of a brilliant twentieth-century private scholar. As a term spanning the centuries, Robert Barclay As a tam spanning the centuries, Robert Barclay and Dean Freiday have clarified our Quaker heritage, kept it vibrant, and provided guidelines for effective contemporary Christian witness. Both held the Spirit-given character of Scripture; but Dean isn't adverse to chiding his seventeenth colleague for using a much misunderstood term, "secondary' to describe the Bible's relationship to the Spirit. Dean, However, honors the basic insights of his friend by restating Barclay's better insight, "If the same Spirit who inspired the Scriptures is the source is the source of continuing revelation, that revelation will not contradict the written witness' (Robert Barclay and the Bible" in QRT 3(#97). Both testified that the true Church is gathered not only "into the principle +s of truth but also into the power and life and Spirit of Christ." Robert and Dean now share space in the Church Triumphant. Principles and power- I like that combination. Praise the Lord!


"Truth Has Prospered"

I give tribute to Dean Freiday, devoted theologian,

who taught us, locally and around the world,

that the church is Nothing Without Christ.

Within a culture of unbelief, he has proclaimed

Biblically, rationally, and experientially,

"Christ is still the answer".

Sandy' "Jim" was a meticulous scholar.

As one friend observed, Dean could

"stuff Quaker theology in a a 1000 word package."

but also, by patient research and good writing,

he clarified for many folks normative Quaker faith

by publishing in modern English the writings of

the renowned 17th century scholar, Robert Barclay,

by papers and dialog at various conferences,

and by editing Quaker Religious Thought.

How reassuring for all of us, that, indeed,

Christ, the incarnate Word Of God,

the "universal and saving Light,"

is still the answer! What a boon to us

earnest but sometimes confused Quakers!

In ecumenical circles Dean Freiday shared

seminal Quaker insights and Strengthened

bonds with Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant

Christians. Surely, under Dean's ministry,

from Manasquan to Bujumbura

"Truth has prospered!"

    Dean Freiday Papers at Swarthmore College