What do quakers believe?
There’s an old joke which says if you get three lawyers together in a room, you’ll get four opinions. It has to be admitted that if you get three Quakers together in a room, you’ll probably get six opinions, plus one or two more just to ensure nobody not present is feeling left out. (from "So who are these Quakers anyway? Simon Gray)
Most Quakers would agree that we believe that there is ‘that of God’ in everyone. Some may hesitate about the use of the word ‘God’, but all would agree with the implication that everyone should be treated with respect. We have come to accept diversity amongst us in the words we use to express our beliefs, recognising that the Spirit is beyond human comprehension.
Because we are more concerned with the truth behind the words than with formal statements of belief, Quakers have always rejected creeds. Instead we have our written ‘Advices and Queries’, which are prompts to encourage us to reflect on how we are living, and our Testimonies, which are not written statements but are expressed through the issues with which Quakers are actively involved. The current Testimonies are for Peace, Equality and Justice, Truth and Integrity, Simplicity and Sustainability.
The Peace Testimony is the best known, as ever since their origin in the 17th century Quakers have been active in working for international peace and understanding. They are also well-known for their social work and as pioneers in education and penal reform. In recent years they have developed the Testimony to sustainability, arising from their work to realise the commitment they made in 2011 to become a low-carbon, sustainable community.
None of us would claim to have all the answers or that we don’t often fail; but we do claim that our continual search for that of God both in ourselves and in others, and our efforts to translate our faith into action, give a meaning and purpose to life, which enriches it and makes it an exciting journey.