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What makes a Quaker a Quaker?


angellous- there are a few things that seperate Quakers form other protestants. pacifism is one of them, but some would also say that the fluidity of beliefs found among Quakers makes us unique as well. for example, if a Lutheran were to seriously the divinity of Jesus they'd be pretty at odds with church doctrine. should a Quaker do the same, he or she wouldn't find hard opposition to that belief within Quaker religious thought. but like many other Protestants, Quakers place a strong emphasis on spiritual community (the parish), the need to read into religious works for one's self, and the individual's relationship to God.


Born Again,Spirit Filled
gracie said:
well, like i've said, Quaker beliefs are pretty diverse, but i'll try to give you an outline based on the Hicksite Quakers' beliefs i'm most famialr with. also be aware that many of the terms you've mentioned above just aren't part of Quaker theological speak, but i'll do my best. warning: gross generalizations ahead!

salvation and blood- many liberal Quakers understand living a simple, pious life style as its own salvation. there is not alot of emphasis placed of Jesus' death as a means of salvation, as Quakers tend to focus more in Jesus' life and teachings then his death.

sin, atonement, redemption- Quakers generally believe that sin results from not listening to the voice of God's love within us, from acting selfishly and judgementally based on this shutting out of God's voice. there is no formal process of atoning for sins, though during meeting some Friends will rise and voice concerns that they are struggling with to the congregation, and ask that they pray for them in their striving for the right path. Quaker's generally don't believe in orginal sin and beliefs vary as to the role of Jesus as a saviour of souls. many Quakers see the teachings of Jesus, however, as a model for a simple life of love and service lived close to God, which in its own way is spiritualy redeeming in this life.

judgement- few Quakers tend to see God as a judge, more of a subtle spirit. Quaker beliefs about the afterlife vary, though the general idea is that good deeds and love matter more in the end than creed.

righteousness- the Quaker ideal of livelihood is one based on simplicity, service to others, pacifism, and striving to hear God in all aspects of life. i think that's pretty much the running definition of Quaker righteousness.

holiness- ah, this one's tricky. well, God is surely holy. but many Friends would also contend that all aspects of life are holy, and that all human life is holy, as well. which is not to say that the concensus is that God is synonymous with all things, no. but God is with all things and people, and His influence and guidance can be witnessed and heard if one uses the open senses of the spirit.

sanctification- could you clarify this term some? see, this is one of those terms i'm just not familiar with within the context of Quakerism. what is being sanctified?

Sanctification in the christian realm is a state of being set apart for God from the corruption of the world, not conforming to the world but abstaining from it.
But only thru the transforming power of the Holy Spirit
Do you believe the Holy scriptures are God's divine words of truth involving obedience to his commands, salvation of the soul thru faith in Jesus instruction,counsel,on how to live in holiness towards God and how to worship and praise him which all help maintain devotion to Him. and that it explicitly talks about ,original sin, law,righteousness,holiness judgement,repentence,hell,atonement, the death,burial resurrection and ascenssion of Jesus Christ and so much more.

Many religious sects seem to maintain a resemblence of holiness and righteousness and appear very closely related in many beliefs and practices to true christianity (followers of Christ)and will say they believe in Jesus, but cut and paste from the original scriptures and from ,personal interpretations,opinions,creating in themselves a new doctrine.

Then these are passed down from generations and people grow up being taught these new doctrines, of course convinced this is the path ,how far many have fallen from the beaten path of the true scriptures and teachings of God's word and Christ.

They actually appropriate these new set of doctrinal teachings to their particular lifestyles and thus have a new religion,of course claiming thaey are from God.
2Timothy 3:5 they have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
Key word is power.
What does that mean ,well they have an image of God likeness but the power that God gives to the true church for conversion and salvation and obedience is the same power that God used to raise Christ from the dead, that dwells in the true believers who follow Him and adhere to all His word,not bits and pieces that fit there lifestyle, the whole word.
The whole tenants of the CHRISTIAN faith are wrapped up in these, original sin, law,righteousness,holiness judgement,repentence,hell,atonement, the death,burial resurrection and ascenssion of Jesus Christ and so much more.

It is an awesome feeling being part of an organization or sect with strict adherences to practices,standards,rights and beliefs,but if they only have their origin in and from man and his traditions, rationale, intellect,perceptions and assumptions what often appears are many variances within the particular sect.
It becomes man made, based on the individual ,how empowering would that be if we all came with our own set of beliefs and adherences.

Why won't men follow the true word of God ,because it is light (light exposes the hidden things,like hearts ,motives) t
John3;19 light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

This is not to bash your belief ,but I have trouble when people profess to be associated with Christ but only follow ,part of His teachings and /or make up ther own,not that it is your desire to create your own,I'm not sure where your faith oringinated and who influenced you, maybe they are the one at fault.
When I say, fault, I mean in comparison to the doctrine they profess to believe in and that of Christ's, the fault lies in what os contrary to sound doctrine


I'm not sure where your faith oringinated and who influenced you, maybe they are the one at fault.
if you'd like to know where my faith originated, read some of my previous posts.

if you'd like to know who influenced Quaker thought, do might want to do some reading on-line or find a good introductory book on Quakerism.

it's clear that much of Quakerism does not follow traditional Christianity, in creed, ritual, or organization. however, those of us who idenitify as Christian would do so with the conviction that they are living, as best they can, according to the spirit of the words and teachings of Christ. few Quakers follow the Bible literally, you are right.

what it means for you to be a Christian and follow Christ is probably not what that would mean for many Quakers. all people follow God in their own way. Quakers are not a fundamentalist sect, and we believe that no spiritual path lived in humility and love is superior to another.

i think we are approaching the idea of Christianity from two very differnt places, honestly. there's nothing wrong with that, but i'm worried that we'll essentially be talking past one another.

interestingly, many of the words and phrases you've highlighted are central to Quaker thought. early Quakers felt very much that they were called to be apart from the world and to serve only God. early Quakers did not take oaths, and today we do not serve in the military. this ties into the concepts of living apart from the trappings of the world, and living simply.

"the light" is something familiar to many Quakers. when we say "the light" we refer to the light of Christ or God within all human beings, a presence and guiding light we must listen for, and that guides us in love on our paths. the "evil" you describe would be understood by many Quakers, not as a seprate force the opposed God, but as a deafness to God's voice.


Not your average Mormon
gracie said:
Quaker's generally don't believe in orginal sin...
Interesting. That's something the Latter-day Saints have in common with the Quakers. I didn't know that any other "Christian" group besides us rejected this doctrine.


Active Member
Gracie, my dear, you are lovely in my eyes and in the sight of God. Blessings to you. Would that I could have your clarity and sweetness. Thank you.


Celtic Faery Wiccan )O(
Interesting. That's something the Latter-day Saints have in common with the Quakers. I didn't know that any other "Christian" group besides us rejected this doctrine.
I dont think Jehovah's Witnesses believe in original sin either. I'm not sure on that though... but I was raised in a JW household and I dont ever recall hearing about original sin at home or at the Kingdom Hall (JW Church).

Gracie-- I read all of your comments and also did a little research of my own on Quakerism (at religioustolerance.org) and I gotta say that, aside from the "living simply" and pacifism, it is very close to my view of spirituality. I have slightly different views though... but generally it is pretty close. Thank you for sharing your beliefs with us! I really had not a clue what being a Quaker meant. I, like others on this thread thought it was a purely Christian sect. It was fascinating to know that not all Quakers are Christian! ;)

fromthe heart

Well-Known Member
Gracie...where does Quaker and Amish and Mennonite divide?

The reason I ask is because I live just minutes from mennonites and less than an hour from Amish....whom I grew up and interacted with over the years...they don't think as you do and thus the reason I'm asking. I know the Amish came from the Mennonite religion...they are all from German origin I think...could be wrong there never got back too far in the history...but their beliefs are far removed from what you have spoke of in reference to God, Jesus, salvation,atonement, redemption,sin...etc.

Just curious here in Pa....thanks in advance for a response.:)


fromthe heart said:
Gracie...where does Quaker and Amish and Mennonite divide?
This one gets a little tricky... The Amish are actually an anabaptist sect. The definition of anabaptist runs

Anabaptist: A member of a radical movement of the 16th-century Reformation that viewed baptism solely as an external witness to a believer's conscious profession of faith, rejected infant baptism, and believed in the separation of church from state, in the shunning of nonbelievers, and in simplicity of life.
Mennonites are a variety of anabaptists

Mennonite: A member of an Anabaptist church characterized particularly by simplicity of life, pacifism, and nonresistance.
Technically, Quakerism is a spiritual, but not a lineal, decendant of Anabaptist and specifically Mennonite thought. So while Quakers have theologically Mennonite roots (and therefor ultimately Anabaptist roots), we are not officially considered Mennonites.

thank you for the question! :)

Martha- honey, you only see me on-line! : laughs : if anyone here is a sweet heart, it's surely you. your kindness and big spirit shine through in everything you write. you are truly a guided, loving soul, and i'm blessed to have met you. we all are!

the Quakers have an expression called "to hold someone in the light" which means to pray for or meditate upon them. i'll be holding you in the light at meeting tomorrow, Martha. God bless, and peace to you! :)


Working-Class W*nch.
Katzpur said:
I was talking to a poster on another forum awhile back who said she is a Quaker, but a non-Christian. She said that many Quakers are Christians, but that not all are, and that some, in fact, are agnostics. Is this information accurate? I have always thought that Quakers were Christians. If this isn't the case, what common beliefs do all Quakers have? There must be something to unite devout Christians, non-Christians who believe in God, and agnostics if they can all call themselves Quakers. Would someone please educate me? Thanks!

Better late than never...

In 1827, the Religious Society of Friends experienced its first division when Quaker Elias Hicks was confronted by the elders of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting concerning his universalist ideas. At that time, his ideas were seen as contradictory to the already widely established tradition of Friends--trinitarian thought, belief in the virgin birth, belief in salvation through the death of Jesus Christ, etc.,--basically your average Protestant Christianity.

Hicks taught that the leading of the Holy Spirit, or 'Inner Light,' as many Quakers call it, should be of primary importance--where tradition insisted that the leading of the Holy Spirit would conform to established tradition, Hicks believed that the Spirit
transcends both ritual, as well as doctrine, or scripture.

With the birth of Hicksite Quakerism came two more divisions, and a great deal more diversity in thought amoung all Quakers. For instance, some of the Christ-centered, more traditional Quakers adopted a unitarian view of God, or the doctrine of universal reconciliation, while others, though denying Christ's divinity, remained Christ-centered, and others still, who denied belief in any deity at all, or merely believed that such a thing could not be known.--So what makes us all unified as Quakers?

No matter what we believe, or disbelieve about God and our religious texts, all Quakers are united by the 'Inner Light.' It doesn't matter whether we perceive it as being spiritual in nature, or simply a matter of conscience, Quakers of all persuasions generally share belief in the 'priesthood of all believers,' or more appropriately for some of us, simply 'all.' (There are even Quakers who believe in the 'prophethood of all [believers]').--For more things Quakers have in common, see the Quaker Testimonies (Adobe Acrobat required to view document).

*Breathes a long sigh of relief* Man, I'm pooped. lol :thud:


Active Member
I go to a Quaker college (not a strict one, it's just that it was founded by Quakers and we have about an 11% Quaker population) and have been learning some of the basics from our religious director. Before I got here I thought it was basically Amish, I'm embarassed to say. Here's some of the beliefs I've learned, although since there are divisions within Quakerism it won't be true of every group:

Each person has the ability to communicate with God on their own, with no intermediary. The conscience, or "inner light", is God's presence within the individual and serves as a guide. While other guides like the Bible (or other holy text of your religion) can be important and useful, they are only supplements to your personal connection to the divine.

Simplicity and humility keep us from immersing ourselves in the shallow aspects of this world. This includes simple clothing and speech, and also a lack of symbolism. Quakers don't use symbols in their religious life; the ideal church meeting takes place with no special decoration and no rituals.

All humans are equal under God; don't use honorific titles or gestures. (At my school we call all our teachers and even the President by their first names.) This is where the whole thing with "thou" and "thee" came from; those used to be more casual terms, and "you" was reserved for your social superiors. So, Quakers would only use "you" during prayer.

I'll add more when I have time...including the story behind the Irish saying "Quakers...you don't spit in their soup!" I love that one.


Done here.
Can you be a HIndu Quaker?
At the first Quaker meeting I ever attended, the first person to speak spoke about Vishnu. That being said, some meetings are more explicitly Christian than others. You can be a Hindu Quaker, but some meetings are more open to that than others. Apart from the Evangelical Friends, most Quaker groups in the U.S. don't require you to affirm any particular dogma, but some still have a decidedly Christian identity and "feel."

This reminds me of the old story about Jewish Quakers. Supposedly, so many Jews joined the Quakers in the years before World War II that rabbis would complain, "Some of my best Jews are Friends." ;) (These days liberal Jews are more likely to find their way to liberal Jewish movements, though.)


Brother Napalm of God's Love
I am a sometime Quaker and one of my friends from the nearby MM is a Zen Master as well as a Quaker.


Jesus in me
Well Gracie, I have to say that you handle yourself very well, you are well spoken, and you are a fine ambassador for your belief system.

It is doubtful that I'll be joining a Quaker village anytime soon, but I must say that I find a great deal of peace within your posts.

One question - is your avatar a picture of you, or is it a generic picture of a Quaker woman?


Obviously there is very little peace in Quakerism although I doubt the adherents realize it.

Jesus is sending me to a friends meeting but I couldn't say for how long since I thought I would be at my last church a lot longer.

As a charismatic, I will definitely be very untraditional for them, I am sure.


Spiritual Friend
Premium Member
A Friendly bump for Peace and Love. ;)

I didn't even know this part of the board was here.....