Most, if not all, of this month I am going to post about Quakers in general and in particular focusing on what they call “Testimonies” and other foundational type things. But I also will be covering some of the things that I believe make Quakers Quakers. I have to start off this series in saying that I am relatively new to much of the Quaker beliefs so some of what I am about to discuss will probably not faithfully describe Quaker belief. Please forgive me for any errors I may make in to this particular journey. I certainly welcome you to correct me wherever I may be wrong. This series is still a work in progress so I can’t summarize it all just yet. Hang in there with me and we will discover it as we go. Given my increasing infatuation with Quakers these posts may go on for some time.
Quakers claim they have no doctrine or creed but in my mind their “testimonies” come awfully close . Particularly their beliefs in simplicity and in non-violence. But with this study I am finding that I have many other things in common with them. Let’s kick off the study now.
Some of the basic tenets among Quakers, who were founded about 1650 in England by George Fox, was that true spirituality cannot be found by following the religious leader of the day. His basic question was “How do we know what is of God?”. Quakers believe in the answer lies in the their experience of Christ’s direct revelation. There is no need for priest, pastors, or other such people to act as an intermediary. They believe that if you pray in silence and study the messages of the Bible they will understand the true nature of Jesus Christ. If I remember right George Fox spent several years among various religious scholars and none were able to answer his basic question. I am somewhat attuned to that as I have spent the last few years studying various Christian denominations and have yet to find any that I believe truly envelope Christ’s nature as I have come to understand it. Some are good at one thing and some are good at another.
Some of the basic areas of the Quaker beliefs that I am attuned with most of my life are in the areas of worship, simplicity, nonviolence, and service. I believe they have locked on to much of the true Christian nature in these areas. I will be spending several posts in these fundamental areas.
One thing Quakers are definitely not is Sola Scriptura or Sola Fida. That is they do not believe that the Bible is the end of Christian revelations or that you can be a Christian by faith alone. Many Quakers have a tendency to believe that most of today’s Christians treat the Bible as an idol in an of itself. They believe the Bible is a history book about God and Jesus Christ that was inspired by God but was not dictated by him. I think their general belief is that the messages of scripture are reliable and trustworthy for teaching an learning lessons from God. They don’t believe in the literal interpretation of every word. They say it is up to us to find that lesson and not get fixated on whether the story is true, myth, or simply a parable. They believe the Bible was written by fallible men and therefore it is not infallible in every aspect. This belief tends to bring out severe attacks of them in some Christian circles.
Next time I will start on the list of Quaker Testimonies as they have developed over the years.