Monday, April 28, 2008

What are the Quaker testimonies?

The Quaker testimonies are in many ways the result of a lengthy distillation process. While early Quakers did not hold to a list of specific "testimonies" as such, they did seek to enact their faith in their lives in particular ways that Friends continue to find wisdom and vitality in today.

In his book A Living Faith: An Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Beliefs, Wilmer Cooper offers some some helpful discussion of the testimonies:

"A testimony is an outward expression of an inward leading of the Spirit or an outward sign of what Friends believe to be an inward revelation of truth.

"The testimonies provide the moral and ethical fruits of one’s inward life of the Spirit. To quote Worth Hartman, 'They arise more out of concern for purity, holiness, consistency with divine order than from a passion for social justice.'"

Cooper identifies four core testimonies central to Quaker belief: peace, integrity, simplicity and equality. Others have been suggested or adopted by various groups of Friends, but these are arguably the most universally acknowledged and accepted, and so I will focus on them for the purposes of applying Quaker principles to SRI. In future posts, I will delve into the meaning of each of the four more deeply.

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