"There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what nation soever, they become brethren in the best sense of the expression."
Our Quaker Testimonies
"It is time that Christians were judged more by their likeness to Christ than their notions of Christ." - Lucretia Mott,1849
Quaker testimonies are the traditional statements of Quaker belief. Testimonies are not formal static documents, but rather a shared collection or view of how Quakers relate to God and the world. Testimonies cannot easily be taken one at a time, as they are interrelated. As a philosophical system, they can be seen as coherent even outside of Christian theology. Individually (and sometimes corporately) Friends have not always been consistent with their stated values, but these statements of belief have provided strong guidance to Friends through much of their history.
While the list of testimonies is evolving, like all aspects of Friends theology, the following is a generally accepted list.
Some Friends also include Unity and/or Community in this list, and others include Stewardship.
The Peace Testimony
The Peace Testimony is the most steadfast testimony; it is also the best known testimony of Friends. The belief that violence is always wrong has persisted to this day, and many conscientious objectors, advocates of non-violence and anti-war activists are Friends. Because of the peace testimony, Friends are often considered as one of the historic peace churches. In 1947 Quakerism was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the prize was accepted by the American Friends Service Committee and Friends Service Council of Great Britain.
NEW: Read the St. Louis Friends' Declaration of Peace (February 2006). Many translations are available here: Amharic, Arabic, Bahasa Malay, Bosnian, Chinese, Dutch, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Norwegian, Pashto, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Turkish, Vietnamese, and also audio in English.
The Testimony of Equality
Friends believe that all people are created equal in the eyes of God. Friends view all people as equally loved by God,equally precious to God, and equally capable of communion with God. Thus, Friends find no justification for distinctions of rank, gender, race, wealth, or any of the other markers that human history has used to separate people and ascribe more worth to some than to others. Friends were some of the first to value women as important ministers and to campaign for women's rights, they became leaders in the anti-slavery movement, and were among the first to pioneer humane treatment for the mentally ill and for prisoners.
The Testimony of Integrity
Also known as the Testimony of Truth, or Truth Testimony, the essence of the Testimony of Integrity is placing God at the center of one's life and refusing to place things other than God there—whether it be oneself, possessions, the regard of others, belief in principles or something else. To Friends integrity is in choosing to follow the leading of the Spirit despite the challenges and urges to do otherwise. This testimony has led to Friends having a reputation for being honest and fair in their dealings with others. It has led them to give proper credit to others for their contributions and to accept responsibility for their own actions. Friends have historically rejected oath-taking for its implication that integrity does not extend to the rest of one's life.
The Testimony of Simplicity
Simplicity to Friends has generally been a reference to material possessions and is often referred to as plainness. Friends traditionally limited their possessions to what they needed to live their lives, rather than pursuing luxuries. Recently this testimony is often taken to have an ecological dimension: that Friends should not use more than their fair share of the Earth's resources. Additionally, simplicity refers to one's manner of living, in choosing to center attention and energy around what God asks of us, letting go of what may be mere conformity with social norms and styles. The Testimony of Simplicity is also related to the Testimony of Integrity in that simple, plain speaking of the truth is preferred over clever persuasion.
St. Louis Friends Meeting