What We Believe
Quakers emphasize the lived experience of Christ’s power in our lives, so much so that our understanding of Christianity has often been described as “non-creedal.” This does not mean, of course, that Friends lack shared beliefs. On the contrary, our discomfort with creeds lies not in any fear of orthodoxy, but instead in our recognition that cheap profession of belief is not enough. Real faith is borne out in the details of our daily lives and the strength of our character. Any professions of faith that we make should be backed up with lives that witness to simplicity, humility, steadfast love and concrete work for justice.
Our Book of Discipline is a record and a reminder of the truth that we have committed ourselves to as a people gathered in Jesus Christ. While we do not seek to lay outward rules on one another, we do encourage each one to live up to the witness of Christ that is present in our hearts. Bearing each other’s burdens, we can fulfill the law of Christ, which is love, peace and tenderness. When we come together in the presence of the Holy Spirit, it is our experience that God gathers us into the truth and empowers us to lift up a shared testimony. The following is an example of one such written testimony, the fruit of our living experience of Christ in community:
Our Answer for the Hope that Lies within Us: Principles to Keep before OYM Friends
This document is a summary of the contributions of individual Friends gathered at one worshipful session held during the 2003 session of Ohio Yearly Meeting for the purpose of articulating the common faith and beliefs of Friends in OYM. Friends who participated felt the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ move among them as they outlined their faith. However, this is not a comprehensive statement of OYM beliefs, nor is it to be taken as a creedal statement.
Jesus Christ lives and acts now within you and me. He is our hope of glory. Jesus, the living Word of God, will talk to us. He is the One who can speak to our condition. We experience Jesus Christ directly, drinking from the Living water and being refreshed as that spiritual stream flows over us. We can address God in prayer. When He speaks to us, we must listen and then obey.
Jesus’ outward work allowed us salvation from sin. His inner work transforms us. By God’s almighty power and grace we can be lifted out of sin into righteousness. God can break into our lives at any time, unexpectedly, to change what we do and even who we are.
We can pursue our own salvation by hanging our greed, lusts, anger, and other sins on the cross. By accepting the cross into our lives, we yield to and follow Christ.
Conversion, convincement, and transformation happen in different ways to different people. Some people experience an immediate, dramatic event; some people know steady spiritual growth; some people have both.
Truth does exist, and we can know it both individually and corporately. We know Truth through the immediate presence of Christ within us. The Scriptures, which were given by God, cannot contradict Truth. They contribute to our understanding of Truth, and they stand as a second authority to check our understanding of God’s Word within us.
When two or three are gathered together in Jesus’ name, He is in the midst of them. When we allow Him to work in and among us, He can bring us into corporate one-mindedness. We enter into corporate worship and business with the confident expectation that Christ, our pastor and shepherd, will direct us in both general practice and specific detail. God calls all believers into the priesthood, bestowing gifts and appointing members for the accomplishment of His will within the community. God calls us to faithfulness in using His gifts and to obedience in following His direction. An inward baptism is the only essential baptism, and spiritual communion with God is the only required communion.
We teach the importance of the commandments to trust in the Lord with all your heart, to acknowledge Him in all your ways, and to love one another. It is our desire that the words we have used here not be stumbling blocks in the communication of our faith but rather that our words reflect the Truth that we know.