Most Friends would call themselves “Christians”…for we follow Christ and seek to live by his teachings. Some Friends would not call themselves “Christian” but “Friends” or “Quakers.”
Quakerism as a movement began through the ministry of George Fox. He considered himself “Christian” and used definitive “Christian language” and theology to spread the message of Truth. Those first Friends were called “Children of the Light”, “Seekers”, Publishers of Truth" and as one important Englishman called for some Friends to “Quake in the fear of God”…they adopted the name of Quaker…they embraced a name meant to be an insult and gave it nobility.
Quakerism has it’s roots in the Christian message and the Bible…but Truth cannot be contained and where the Light exists in any culture or teaching can be utiliized.
Some Friends cannot identify with the Christian mythos…and may use pagan or Wiccan teminology to seek to explain that which is beyond words and creeds…but can only be experienced.
Friends believe in the Universal Light that is given to all people…“The Light that enlighens every man was coming into the world.” as the first chapter of John states it.
Friends find “Christian terminology” best suited to teach about the love of God as revealed in Jesus of Nazareth…the embodiment of the Light in our midst.
Many Christians do not believe Friends are “Christian” because Friends do not practice water baptism or “communion”…but believe that these are images and symbols that point to the “Inward and true reality” of the experience which water baptism and the eucharist point to.
Friends believe in One Baptism…that of the Spirit…the True Baptism which inwardly changes us into new creations.
Friends believe in True Communion…that Christ is Truly Present in our midst…teaching us…cleansing us…loving us when we gather in his name…He is Present Teacher…He is our Priest…each of us share in his priesthood and minister to one another in meeting vocally as the Spirit leads us to share. He is the Living Word of which scripture points to. If other religious writings teach Truth…if other religious writings embody the Light…they too are seen as vehicles of teaching the Truth to humanity.
Since Friends have no written creed there is not an established requirement of belief to be a Friend. Quakerism is experiential in nature. We seek direct and immediate communion with the Eternal as we corporately gather for worship.
Friends use the term “Meeting” instead of “Church” because it is Friend’s belief the the Church meets for worship…the Church meets for business. One does not “go to church”…the “Church goes to Meeting”…“where two or three of you gather in my name…there am I in your midst.”
Quakerism seeks to live Truth…not necessarily write creeds that expound about it…what good are creeds if those that embrace those creeds do not live the teachings out in their daily lives? Friends seek to Live their Creed…not only speak about it. Unless the Truth is incarnated into our daily lives…the creeds are just empty words…“tinkling brass…” without love displayed …the Kingdom of God is realized in the here and now…it must impact our world now to have any value…the “next life” will take care of itself…