RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS (QUAKERS)
Quaker beliefs and practices
As with all large denominations, individual Quakers are religiously diverse. Their beliefs range from Evangelical (conservative) to liberal. The following beliefs are common to most Quakers:
Friends believe that there exists element of God's spirit in every human soul. Thus all persons have inherent worth, independent of their gender, race, age, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation. Their opposition to sexism, racism, religious intolerance, warfare and the death penalty comes from this belief.
Simplicity, pacifism, and inner revelation are long standing Quaker beliefs. Their religion does not consist of accepting specific beliefs or of engaging in certain practices; it involves each person's direct experience of God.
bullet There is a strong mystical component to Quaker belief. In the moving words of one reviewer of this essay, "In Meeting for Worship, God is there. God is probably always there, but in Meeting, I am able to slow down enough to see God. The Light becomes tangible for me, a blanket of love, a hope made living."
They do not have a specific creed; however, many of the coordinating groups have created statements of faith. The statement by the largest Quaker body, the Friends United Meeting includes the beliefs in:
true religion as a personal encounter with God, rather than ritual and ceremony
individual worth before God
worship as an act of seeking
the virtues of moral purity, integrity, honesty, simplicity and humility Christian love and goodness
concern for the suffering and unfortunate
continuing revelation through the Holy Spirit
Many do not regard the Bible as the only source of belief and conduct. They rely upon their Inner Light to resolve what they perceive as the Bible's many contradictions. They also feel free to take advantage of scientific and philosophical findings from other sources.
Individual Quakers hold diverse views concerning life after death. Few believe in the eternal punishment of individuals in a Hell.
All aspects of life are sacramental; they do not differentiate between the secular and the religious. No one day or one place or one activity is any more spiritual than any other.
Quakers have had a tradition of opposing war. They have followed the beliefs of the early Christian movement which was strongly pacifist. Early Christians even refused to bring charges against others if there was a possibility of the death penalty being exercised. Together with the Amish, Church of the Brethren, and Mennonites, they made it possible for men to be classified as conscientious objectors.
One of the most precious people I have ever met was from a Quaker background. she just turned 95, and her mind is still very sharp and clear. I def. see the blessings of God upon her life, and her descendants.