How Shakers Relate to
Heresy of Decisional Regeneration
Mother Ann Lee
Mormons and Shakers are not like Quakers
and Enthusiasm is not Mental Illness
Most readers of Christianebooks.com have come to this place to learn why New Light Calvinist Archibald Alexander in 1840 lumped Shakers and Mormons together as suffering from mental illness. This is a typical Scottish Common Sense Realism attitude that denies spiritual reasons for heresy and "enthusiasm". The Shakers were not part of the movement started by George Fox called the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends), which was one of many dissenting sects in England during the tumultuous 17th century. One of the reasons that William Penn, a Quaker, established Pennsylvania in 1682 was to provide a safe haven from persecution in the New World.
The gradual shift in Inquiry Rooms after the Civil War from the BEST system to the BIST system was the result of graduates of Princeton's Scottish Common Sense Realism slowly eliminating regeneration as a discernable goal. This was the way "religious affections" or "enthusiam" was replaced with "disinterested benevolence", which was in turn, by the end of the nineteeth century, replaced by assent to the truth of scripture as evidence of "saving faith".
Mother Ann Lee, who started the Shaker movement, was formerly a Quaker, and she did incorporate some of her Quaker background into Shaker practices: simplicity, financial responsibility, work ethic, belief in the perfectibility of humankind... among them. She and her followers believed her to be the second incarnation of Christ. Shakers were a celibate sect, and expanded their membership through adult conversions and the rearing of orphans, who were given a choice of joining the Shakers, or going out into the world when they became of legal age. Shakers were an exclusively American movement, mainly located in New England and New York. Their worship included many lively songs--and dances-- of praise to God.
The Quakers, on the other hand, came to America to escape the rigid hierarchy and government control prevalent in the Anglican church. They met in homes or buildings without steeples, waiting upon God silently to make His presence felt and inwardly heard. Any person could be called by God to rise and preach upon any occasion of worship. They were, and are, very family oriented, far from being celibate, and would not agree that Anne Lee is the second incarnation of Christ. They also have historically not withdrawn from the world but have been very active in the cause of social justice for the poor and oppressed, education, humanitarian relief, and the humane treatment of prisoners in penal institutions.