Principles

What Friends Believe

Friends have always believed in seeking guidance direct from God in corporate as well as private prayer and worship. Because fresh insights are always being revealed Friends have never had a written creed or a printed prayer book. The spiritual experience of Friends down through the years has been recorded in writing, and is an immensely valuable source of inspiration. Our important basic beliefs and principles have for many years been been outlined in “General Christian Counsel” and “The Queries for Serious Consideration”. These are set out below. Although the wording is revised from time to time, it tends to remain in classic rather than contemporary style, emphasising that the basic beliefs do not change.

Peace Testimony

The following letter to the editor of the Irish Times was published on August
25th 2006:

Madam. – ‘Did they ever make up a religion that couldn’t be misinterpreted as slaughtering people you don’t agree with?’ asks Martyn Turner’s cartoon child (August 12th). The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has since its foundation (1652/1654) held a testimony that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ. Quakers believe that, in the words of the founder George Fox ‘they are called to live in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars’.

Adherence to this peace testimony has, over the centuries, resulted in Quakers being imprisoned for refusal to bear arms or comply with military conscription. Equally important is the positive aspect of this witness, which involves Quakers in many countries in mediation and reconciliation, in working for disarmament, in relief work and the right sharing of the world’s resources. The resolution of conflict does not have to involve the taking of lives.

I agree wholeheartedly with the views of the editorial of the October-November 2006 issue of The Friendly Word. I have often felt that Friends should be much more vocal through the letters pages of the press. I certainly didn’t have any difficulty in getting the above letter published.

Gillian Armstrong, Rathfarnham Preparative Meeting

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