Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Do Quakers Believe?

It’s actually pretty hard to write a description of what Quakers beliefs are that would actually be acceptable to all the Quakers in the world today.

Due to the unclear description of Quaker beliefs, it has
sometimes led to the misconception that Quakers do not have any beliefs at all or that one can believe anything and still be a Quaker. Most Quakers actually take the absence of a belief system, as an invitation to exercise an extra measure of personal responsibility for the understanding and articulation of the Quaker faith.

Rather than rely on priests and ministers, Quakers are encouraged to take seriously the personal disciplines associated with their own spiritual growth. We do this by reflection, prayer, faithfulness, and service. Our beliefs are in words and action.

So With that said, Quakers all share common roots in the Christian faith. In general, Quakers still believe in certain essential principles:

  • A belief in the possibility of direct, unmediated communion with the Divine (historically expressed by George Fox in the statement, "Christ is come to teach his people himself"); and
  • A commitment to living lives that outwardly attest to this inward experience.

However, today’s Quakers do exhibit significant variations in the ways we interpret our traditions and practices in our beliefs.

Some Quakers go to ‘programmed services’ and it’s led by a pastor, similar to many Protestant churches. These type of Quakers place most emphasis on the teachings of Christian Scripture.

Some Quakers, this is where I go, we practice ‘unprogrammed meetings’ with no formal minister or liturgy. Here we give great importance to the Inward Teacher, due to the belief that God is in everyone. This actual allows a wide range of religious perspectives.

For many Quakers (especially the unprogrammed, "liberal" branch) it is really not that important that we all have the same beliefs. These Quakers would say that is not one's beliefs that make one a Quaker, but rather it’s the participation in the Quaker community, the deep search for Divine Guidance, and the attempt to live faithfully in harmony, and that ‘Guidance’ is what make a person a Quaker.

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