After this fairly thorough study of Quakers I am ready to summarize my personal thoughts on Quakers and their beliefs and practices. First of all I must say that I am very much attuned to most Quaker beliefs. I think that Quakers really understand what Christ taught on how to live our lives. Not only do they believe it but they practice it in their daily lives. More so than almost any other Christians. I very much admire them for that. Their testimonies, which to me are really statements for their personal actions truly reflect what I think Jesus had in mind about living our lives. I might not be, at least yet, a Quaker in membership but, by this study I am convinced that I am one in my heart.
Many of the strong feelings I have had throughout my life I have now found to be very much aligned with long established Quaker beliefs. I was eight years old when I gave my best friend a black eye over some dispute that I can’t even remember. Immediately after that incident I was totally devastated over the violence I had done. I promised myself that I would never strike or injure another person in that manner. I have lived up to that promise since then. Along these same lines I have always felt that the various wars we have been involved in were totally against God’s will. The Quaker belief that God is in each of us and therefore if you kill another person you are killing God also.
I recently went through a round is emails with a Christian friend about Biblical Inerrancy. After much discussion I was told, maybe not in so many words, that if I didn’t take the whole bible as being totally the word of God then somehow I needed to rethink whether I am really a Christian. I knew there were other Christians out there who didn’t buy into the inerrancy logic but having grown up and lived in that tradition I did not run across them very frequently. It was certainly relieving to find that Quakers for the last three hundred years have been espousing what I personally believe is the true message of the Bible. It contains words of God, but it is not THE word of God. The word of God is Jesus as the apostle John states at the very beginning of this Gospel.
I believe in simplicity, especially when it come to religious institutions. It has always been an affront to me that Christians throughout history have spent billions of dollars making giant cathedrals for themselves in order to “worship” God. In the early times this was totally Catholic in nature but Protestants have also fallen prey to this practice. Jesus did not tell us to spend our money on idols to him; he told us to spend it on his kingdom work. Many believe that if we don’t have lavish surroundings then our guests will look elsewhere for their spiritual needs. To me just the opposite is true. So, when I found out that Quakers purposefully keep their worship facilities very simple. I found another reason to think that they are one of the few denomination that really “get it”. On a personal level, their beliefs on simplicity also align with my anti-stuff campaign I have tried to wage most of my life.
I just can’t get over the fact that most of my strongest life beliefs end up being part of Quaker practices and traditions. This fact totally amazes me!
Next time will go over some of the things that I believe Quakers fall short on. This list is much smaller than the one above.