Walk in the Light!
A Quaker's Witness

Testimonies (how we are to obey Christ in our daily lives)

 
Foundations  Days and Times
The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth Divine Relationship 
Salvation  Conduct and Conversation
Ministry  Peace
Priesthood Parents and Children 
Christian Unity Schools
Baptism  Civil Government
The Supper Trade 
The call to and possibility of perfection Poor 
Sincerity  Secret Societies
Honesty and Taking Oaths Accounts
Promises Births, Burials and Funerals
Marriage Memorials 
Divorce Wills 
Human Brotherhood Books 
Moderation  Attendance at meetings
Intoxicating Liquors
Slavery 
Simplicity Defamation and Detraction
Debts Spiritual Equality of Women 
Gaming and Diversions 
Capital Punishment 
Racial Equality

Foundations

Friends' faith and practice of Christianinty is founded on an experience of the complete separation between the old covenant, law, rituals and priesthood, and the New Covenant of the Living Christ.  The Church of God is the living stones of those who believe in Christ and accept him as their Lord, the head of the corner.  All the offices of this Church are filled by Christ Himself - priest, bishop, shepherd, teacher, healer, savior.  We worship God in spirit and in truth, trembling in awe of His power, meeting together under the cross of Christ waiting for Him, the Word, to guide us.   Back to Top

Ministry
Formal training at a seminary ("To be bred at Oxford or Cambridge," as George Fox put it) is neither necessary nor sufficient to make one a minister of Christ.  Peter was an unlearned fisherman, yet by the anointing of the Holy Spirit he became known as chief among the apostles.  Saul, the pharisee, knew the law and the prophets backward and forward yet he thought it told him to persecute the followers of Our Lord.  It was not his leaning but his direct experience, again by the Holy Spirit, which showed him that Jesus Christ was the messiah, and that converted him to Paul, the apostle of the gentiles.  Christ is the Light that enlightens EVERY person.  Each one of us has, within, the seed of the heavenly kingdom and the Lord may call any of us at any time, putting words in his/her mouth, to be a minister of His gospel.
"And therefore none can be a minister of Christ Jesus but in the eternal Spirit, which was before the Scriptures were given forth; for if they have not his Spirit, they are none of his."  George Fox     Back to Top

Baptism
"Quakers don't believe in water baptism.  Friends eschew the importance of all external religious practice. There is no efficacy in water baptism, just as there is none in observing the "Lord's Supper" using bread and juice, or calling a minister "Rev." or processions, or liturgies, etc. etc. We are 'baptized' by the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist even clearly states "I baptize you with water, but the one who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. John 3:16   'Baptism' means to 'be put into' or 'submerged into' something. Are we put into Christ by water? No.  By His own blood we become a part of Him."
 (Brian Daniels)
The purpose of baptism is to wash one clean of past sins and of the power of sin, to leave one pure to go forward as a member of the body of Christ.  Jesus plainly warned of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who washed the outside of the cup and left the inside unclean, or who whitewashed the outside of a tomb when the inside was corrupt.  In the same way, outward washing with water, (even scrubbing with soap!) has no effect on the source our our defilement - the heart.  Hitler, Stalin, the Spanish inquisitors were all baptized with water - it did not make their hearts pure!  But Christ will can wash us clean and make us pure, Christ "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."  Mt 3:12   This true cleansing is the baptism we recognize and humbly seek every day.
Although Jesus submitted to baptism himself, he clearly stated that he did so to fulfill the scriptures.  Once they were fulfilled, baptism by water, as the ministry of John the Baptist, was to decrease and the ministry and baptism Christ were to increase and take their place.          Back to Top

The call to and possibility of perfection
  God created all things perfect; Adam and Eve were created perfect.  They did not become sinful because of of a flaw in the bodies but because, with the free will which God gave them (making them in his own image) they chose to listen to the cunning deceits of the Devil.  So it is with us all - the Devil whispers temptations to us and, in our pride and desire for "independence", we choose to listen, to try, to see what will happen.
  But this falling into the whiles of the Serpent is not inevitable.  God sent Christ Jesus to show us the way of repentance, of redemption, of salvation.  He does not save us from past sins, he does not seek us out and carry us back to his sheepfold, just to let us stray again.  His rod and his staff are there to comfort us; if we look up to him as timidly, as innocently, as trustingly as little children, or sheep, we will stay his side.  We will recognize and hearken to his voice and to no other, and we shall sin no more.  For when we open the door of our hearts to his knock, he comes in and sups with us and he drives out the evil thoughts from us, God's holy temples, as he drove the money changers from the temple in Jerusalem.
  If we insist on having our own lives, that is in following the delusion of self direction, we are vulnerable to temptation and to sin.  But if we surrender wholly to Christ, loving him with total commitment and fidelity, the purity of our intent and our love will be rewarded by his maintaining the purity of our thoughts and deeds.          Back to Top
 

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
 

Priesthood
  Under the Mosaic law, when one erred, he was required to prove his penitence by offering a sacrifice to God.   He could not do it himself, though, needing a priest to act as intermediary.  The priests gained wealth and power by this arrangement and they, the scribes and lawyers, the money changers and sellers of doves, made a lucrative business out of intervening for people with the almighty.  This corruption is exactly what Jesus came to earth to eliminate.  It was because of his dealing directly with sinners, publicans, even lepers - forgiving them, cleansing them, healing them, teaching them - that the privileged class put Him to death!   In the new covenant, which Jesus Christ established, He Himself  is the Way to God.  He is the Sacrifice that has ended all outward sacrifice.  Christ is our priest.  We kneel before Him, poor in spirit, and we meet together in His name, that He will be with us and lead our worship.          Back to Top

Peace
   We strive for the kingdom of heaven, with Christ as its Lord. His warriors are not to fight with outward weapons, against the bodies of our brothers and sisters. We are to fight with the spiritual weapons of virtue and faith, to trample the devil, to overcome evil with good and to overcome out enemies with love. We therefore utterly deny outward war and strife in any form and for any reason.

  "The Spirit of Christ by which we are guided is not changeable so as once to command us from a thing as evil, and again to move into it; and we certainly do know and testify to the world that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ nor for the kingdoms of this world."  (1660)

  As we believe that all war is wrong, so we believe that all preparations or training for war is wrong.  Military conscription is inconsistent with the teaching and practices of Christianity.
  We not only feel abhorrence for the evils of war and the suffering and misery connected with it, but we desire to work actively for peace, endeavoring to remove the economic and political causes for war.  We wish to emphasize the brotherhood of all men, and that unity and peace can only be achieved by the Spirit of Christ working in the hearts of men. (Ohio Yearly Meeting Discipline, 1977)          Back to Top

Divine Relationship
  It is our common experience that communion with God is a fundamental need of the human soul.  Constant listening for the promptings of the Divine Spirit and seeking to follow it in every relation of life will lead inevitably to spiritual growth.
  If we are faithful followers of Jesus, we may expect at times to differ from the practice of others.  Having in mind that Truth in all ages has been advanced by the courageous example of spiritual leaders, Friends are earnestly advised to be faithful to those leadings of the Divine Spirit which they feel fully assured after mediation and consideration they have interpreted truly.
  Observance of special days and times and use of special placed for worship serve a helpful purpose in calling attention at regular intervals to our need for spiritual communion.  They cannot, however, take the place of daily and hourly looking to God for guidance.  Nor can any custom of fasting or abstaining from bodily comforts take the place of constantly refraining from everything that has the tendency to unfit mind and body for being the temple of the Divine Spirit.  The foundation for all our personal live and social relations should be the sufficient and irreplaceable consciousness of God.
(from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Discipline, 1927)          Back to Top

Sincerity
  Integrity is one of the fundamental characteristics of the Christian.  Friends believe that truth and sincerity are vital in all the dealings of life.  Therefore we earnestly advise the observation of great care in speech and the use of only such statements as convey the exact truth without exaggeration or omission of essential facts.
  We regard the taking of oaths as not only contrary to the teachings of Jesus, but as setting a double standard of truthfulness.  It is recommended that Friends take the opportunity on all occasions where special statements are required, to advance the cause of truth by simple affirmation, thus emphasizing that their statement is only a part of their usual integrity of speech.
  Friends are advised to avoid pretense in dress and deportment, as well as in speech, realizing that false impressions may be conveyed by actions as well as by words.  (from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Discipline, 1927)          Back to Top

Honesty and taking oaths

Jesus said, "Swear not at all, but let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no." Thus our Lord commanded us ALWAYS to tell the truth. When Friends are questioned legally, we do not swear, but we "affirm" that we are being honest, as always. During the time of persecution of Quakers in 17th century England, it was sometimes necessary for Friends to be moved from one prison to another. It was common practice that the jailors would let them make the trip on their own, unescorted, because even their fiercest enemies knew that a Friend's word was his bond.          Back to Top

Simplicity

Wealth, power, stylish dress and manners, and other frills and fads satisfy our worldly vanity, but they are all fleeting treasures.  The pursuit of them leads us away from the divine and everlasting joys of heavenly treasures - the love and fellowship of God and the pleasure of virtue and service.  When God first called his people, Friends, in England, the vanity of the world was particularly focused on showy clothing and flattering/boastfull language.  In eschewing these fads, Quakers adopted "plain" clothing styles and continued to use grammatically correct second person singular pronouns (thee and thou) as one finds them used in the King James Bible.  This latter was a response to the custom of the day to refer to single individuals by the plural pronoun, "you", as a mark of flattery, aping the kings of the day who addressed themselves as "the royal we" because of their claim that God was on the throne with them.  Early Friends refused to use these and other flowery, often hypocritical "manners" of their time in, keeping with their testimony for simplicity.  Today, most Friends continue to dress relatively simply although in modern styles.   Most have adopted the use of "you"  to  address single people, because the flattery/pride inherent in the original use of this grammatical variation have been forgotten.   Some Friends do continue to use "thee" and "thou".          Back to Top

Slavery

During the 1700's, many Friends in America owned slaves or condoned slavery. Beginning with the still small voice of Christ speaking to one Quaker, John Woolman, the institution of slavery was recognized by Friends as contrary to the gospel, which declared that all people are equally loved by God and should be freed from bondage. It took 100 years of patience and prayer for all Friends to see this Light and free their slaves, but when their slaves were emancipated it was by the power of the Lord in their hearts, not by the force of arms on the battle field. This testimony against slavery is not obsolete. It is expressed nowadays in Friends' disagreement with all forms of arbitrary domination of one person or group by another.          Back to Top

Salvation

It is by God’s grace, the seed of the Kingdom planted in every person, that we may be saved. It is a gift, purchased by Christ, who loved each of us so much that he gave himself up on the cross to show us the way. But to grow and be healthy and strong, the seed must be nurtured. So while we receive the seed as a free gift, it grows in us and takes over our lives only by our effort. And what does salvation mean? It is not just to have our former sins forgiven and washed away. If God had decided just to forgive us, but to leave us unchanged in our fallen position, he could have done that without sending his son to live among us. When he walked the earth, Jesus taught, “Follow me. I am the way.” The way to the heavenly kingdom which “is at hand.” As Paul points out in his letter to the Romans, salvation means being release from the law, the power, of sin and bodily death. To be saved means to be engrafted to Christ, the root and stem. When we draw all our food and strength from him, when it is his blood that flows in our veins, we have his power to overcome temptation and to bear the good fruits of one reborn as a child of God. And how can we do this? By the power of the cross - by giving up our mortal desires and faults - greed, envy, lust, spitefulness, deceptiveness and so on. All of these ways are used to protect and preserve and propagate our flesh. But when we turn our backs on the flesh, which no matter how we strive, will die, and focus on the spirit which is eternal, when we water and fertilize and prune and cultivate the holy seed, so it grows strong and big within us, the leaves and the fruit which it produces are the attributes Christ - patience, forgiveness, gentleness, charity, honesty, meekness, loyalty, obedience, love. So to be saved does not mean to steep our earthly bodies in embalming chemicals and to wrap them in plastic so that they will be preserved as is forever. Salvation is not to the body, but to the soul. The soul is saved, released, delivered from the weight of the body and the power of evil influences and impulses when we are dead to the flesh, when we live our lives in the spirit, in the kingdom. See Romans 7 & 8.          Back to Top

Marriage

"For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests or magistrates; for it is God's ordinance and not man's. And therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together. For we marry none; it is the Lord's work, and we are but witnesses." (George Fox) Friends recognize that marriage is a sacrament if and only if it is a true inward convenant, to which the couple is lead by God. The meeting seeks carefully with the couple to be sure that this leading is true and if the meeting with take the marriage (not just the wedding) under its care. Then, at a meeting for worship called for the purpose, the couple prayerfully and obediently declare their vows to each other. After the marriage is completed in such a public meeting of Friends, a certificate recording the meeting's care, the vows of the couple, and the signatures of all the witnesses, is the proof that the couple are married "before God." "But for the priests or magistrates to marry or join any in that relation, it is not according to the scripture; and our testimony and practice hath been always against it. It was God's work before the fall, and it is God's work only in the restoration." (George Fox)          Back to Top

Moderation
  Things lawful in themselves may become harmful when used to excess.  Friends are advised to observe moderation in everything and to abstain entirely from that which may be the occasion of stumbling to others.
  In particular, Friends are urged to observe simplicity and moderation in the conduct of social gatherings, marriages, funerals and public occasions. (from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Discipline, 1927)          Back to Top
 
Capital Punishment
  Our opposition to capital punishment is based on the command of Christ to love and not to kill, and on the belief that there is that of God in every man  We believe in the value of every human life, and that even the most unfortunate sinner may be reclaimed and brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  We feel that a considerate and Christian treatment of all offenders is  always possible.  We urge Friends to work for the complete abolition of the death penalty.  (Ohio Yearly Meeting Discipline, 1977)          Back to Top
 
Gaming and Diversions
  When we consider that our days pass swiftly by, and that our time is a talent committed to our trust for the use of which we must all render an account before the judgement-seat of Christ, it behooves us to "live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," finding our delight in the law of the Lord and our pleasure in his service, and striving that "whether w eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we do all to the glory of God."
  We would therefore plead with all our members to consider carefully the uses of their time, and to discriminate wisely in the choice of their recreations, that nothing be done which tends to dissipate the spiritual life and to hinder their growth in higher things.
  We believe that lotteries, wagering, all games for money or any species of gambling, whether in sport or business, are not only repugnant to Christian living by to public morality, and if any or our members be found engaging in them they should be treated with, and if they are not reclaimed by faithful and loving labor they should be testified against. (Yearly Meeting of Friends for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Eastern Parts of Maryland, 1910)          Back to Top
 
Intoxicating Liquors
It is well known that the use of alcoholic drinks affects the mind and body harmfully and is a factor in a great number of crimes.  We urge total abstinence from the use or handling of any intoxicants, not only on the ground that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, but also on the principle set forth by the Apostle, "If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." (I Cor. 8":13)  Ohio Yearly Meeting Discipline, 1977          Back to Top
 
 

Equality of Women
Defamation and Detraction
Parents and Children
Schools
Poor
Memorials
Books
Conduct and Conversation
Civil Government
Trade
Wills
Secret Societies

 
 

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