Monday, February 11, 2008

What Do Quakers Believe?

Historically there can be no question but that the Society began as a Society of Christians, and for the most part of its life the Christian basis was accepted without demur by its members However, a Society lives in its members and not in its history. Any discussion of what the early Quakers believed is interesting...yet the important question is what Quakers believe now, not what they believed fifty or two hundred and fifty years ago…

[Members] should not concern themselves with questions such as "What are your beliefs, my beliefs, the Society's collective beliefs...for such questions lead on to judgments of others, and the sorting of humanity into Christians and non-Christians.

It would be more productive and more Quakerly if the questions we asked ourselves were:

(a) Why do I have to have beliefs?

(b) Does it matter to me what other people believe?

(c) Is it important to me if those with whom I worship and work are exclusive Christians or not?

(d) If it matters to me, why does it matter?

This last question is...the critical issue… It is surely very important to know why the convictions of others in this respect should matter so much to us. And it is worth remembering that one reason for attaching importance to uniformity of belief is not being quite sure of oneself. I feel fairly sure Jesus himself ...would have been quick to recognize and applaud other teachers whose teachings were similar to his. We need the teachings too badly to split hairs about the differences...or worry about the names we give them.

- Geoffrey Hubbard, 1974