Let’s start out this post with a document released by Quakers in 1611:
We do testify to the world that the Spirit of Christ which leads us into all truth, will never allow us to fight a war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ nor for the kingdoms of this world.
Because Friends, and particularly George Fox their founder, place such emphasis on the dignity, the peace testimony became a cornerstone for their beliefs. When you read the words of scripture you will find the above testimony deeply rooted there. Thus, Quakers believe that the way of the cross of Jesus is entirely inconsistent with war or preparation for it. Of course they are not alone in these feelings. Mennonites and a few other religious institutions feel likewise.
Another reason for the peace testimony has to do with Friends concern about what the spirit of violence does to the our souls as well as preserving the basic belief that “There is God in each of us”. They believe that when we kill anyone we are killing a part of God himself. Friends believe in the positive power of love and reconciliation to overcome evil and bring about peace and justice.
The Quakers commitment to non-violence is a matter of history going back hundreds of years. During our Civil War they treated both Union and Rebel soldiers with equal respect and love. This greatly upset many on both sides of that conflict. Quakers are famous for their appeal to conscientious objector status in time of war but that does not mean that they are not actively seeking peace during times of conflict. But since Friends leave much up to individual interpretation some Friends have chosen to participate in wars but their numbers are quite low.
Next time we will look into the Testimony of Integrity.