What do Quakers believe?
Friends often speak of the Inner Light. We believe that all human beings have a measure of the Divine Spirit, known variously by Quakers as the Inner Light, Inner Guide, Christ Within and Holy Spirit: there is ‘that of God’ in everyone. This is not the same as human reason or conscience but a divine seed or element that enables us to know God.
We are aware that words are inadequate to describe our deepest experiences of God’s presence. Faith is something to be demonstrated in the way we order our lives. We believe that it is more important to live our lives fully, but simply, according to the Inner Light than to spend a lot of time preparing creeds or written statements of faith. Great care and patience are needed to follow the true leading of the Spirit.
As each individual has a direct relationship or communion with God we have no ordained priests or set liturgy. Our form of prayer is in the tradition of contemplative prayer practised by Christians from the earliest times. We make no distinction between the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘sacred’ so we do not need special church buildings. A Quaker Meeting allows the individual and the group to receive guidance, transformation and joy from the spiritual source within each one of us.
Fundamental to Quaker practice are the ‘Testimonies’. Friends have testimonies which encourage equality, truthfulness, simplicity, peace and social justice. Testimonies are not rules or laws with punishments for not following them. Each individual must decide for themselves how far they can follow a particular testimony and respect the position taken by others.
From the time of George Fox (1624-1691) the Society freed men and women from traditional roles. Quaker men have been encouraged to be sensitive, tender and peaceful, and Quaker women to be strong and assertive. Members come from all social and cultural backgrounds and some Quaker Meetings have been in the forefront of welcoming gays and lesbians into positions of leadership and responsibility.
means concentrating only on those things which we really need to promote spiritual growth. A simple, uncluttered life can be a source of great strength.
We are called to be truthful in all our dealings.
The Peace Testimony
is not just opposition to war and violence but a call to handle conflict creatively, and to seek reconciliation and justice. The Society has encouraged and supported its young men who have felt compelled by conscience or divine leading to resist conscription. It also actively supports and runs the Alternative to Violence Programmes throughout the country.
WE ALL HAVE THE PRIEST’S JOB – so we don’t have priests
- We minister to each other
- We are the priesthood of all believers
WE DON’T NEED A CREED!
- We have testimonies, questions, queries and advices
- We allow people to come from whatever starting point
- People can make their own creeds
- We are dedicated to searching.
- WE FIND all of life is sacred so we don’t need many Rituals.
- We don’t allow our rituals to get in the way.
- What rituals we have are largely unconscious and are to emphasise equality fellowship and respect for creation.
Have a look at Quaker Literature for additional information.
Early Quaker teachings came to us through conversations and Yearly Meetings but are not easily explained to other people.
We are not a sect. We offer a Way of Life.