Most Quakers think that religion is primarily about the way you live your life, not about a set of beliefs. We have no creed, but do have a set of principles, or lived-out "testimonies". collected in the latest edition of our "Quaker Faith and Practice".
“For a Quaker, religion is not an external activity, concerning a special “holy” part of the self. It is an openness to the world in the here and now and with the whole of the self. If this is not simply a pious commonplace, it must take into account the whole of our humanity: our attitude to other human beings in our most intimate as well as social and political relationships. It must also take account of our life in the world around us, the way we live, the way we treat animals and the environment. In short, to put it in traditional language, there is no part of ourselves and of our relationships where God is not present.”
Harvey Gillman, 1988, in Quaker Faith and Practice 1995
Quakers principles are based on the insights of individuals about the human condition and the world in which we live, shared within our community and developed down the centuries.
Our principles are collected in “Quaker faith and practice”*, a book which in Britain for two centuries has been thoroughly revised about every thirty years. This has allowed us to face problems which were not imagined by our predecessors, and develop insights about "the will of God" in these matters.
A part of "Quaker Faith and Practice" is "Advices and Queries", a set of challenges and questions which can serve as a way of reviewing your own behaviour. For example:
"Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. ... Think it possible that you may be mistaken."
At the core of Quakerism is our "Meeting for Worship", in which we gather in silence and "wait in the light”. Anyone present may feel drawn to offer spoken “ministry”, which is recieved in silence, and given time to reach us all. In Meeting for Worship we are all open to the truth. In our "Meetings for Worship for Business" we test our individual leadings against the insights of the community.
Quakerism is rooted in the Christian tradition. Most of us find the Bible a valuable source of truth, but to be read critically as with any other text. We are also open to the insights of other faiths.