liberal quaker questions


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I have been researching religions to see where I fit in for months. I finally came across liberal quakers and am very interested in learning more.

I am confused on how Jesus is viewed. Whether he is considered the messiah or not. I have heard some quakers fall under christianity and I was under the impression you couldn't be considered christian unless you did believe he was the messiah. ????
I think liberal quakers fall into the same nebulous category that unitarian universalists do. Origins in Christianity, some members clearly Christian (in terms of agreeing with the mainstream doctrine of Jesus as messiah, trinity, etc.), some fuzzily so, some even atheist or agnostic. Since their purpose in getting together is more to be inspired and to encourage one another in a path of right action, and especially social and environmental justice, and because they tend to be very tolerant, the internal lack of doctrine doesn't much matter for them. So as a group they're generally perceived by "mainstream" Christians as sort of fuzzy but probably Christian and by fundamental Christians as not Christians. At least, this has been my experience.My own best fit in Christianity is liberal Quaker and liberal Celtic Christian, and I do believe in Jesus as the messiah, but many Christians wouldn't classify me as such, because I don't believe that you have to be Christian or agree with a certain doctrine to be "saved" and be embraced by God and I have various other non-mainstream beliefs based on my own experiences. It sometimes hurts for others to shove me outside the fold like that, but it has lessened in time as I became more used to it and learned to simply love and forgive back.
Quakers (the Friends) believe in the "inner light" or Christ, the continuation of the light that was present in Jesus himself. They believe this light can be found in every person and you don't need a priest to get in touch with Jesus. The sacred text is the New Testament, but they do not believe in its strict literal interpretation. "[w]e are all thieves; we are all thieves; we have taken the Scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves." (Margaret Fell) They oppose to racism, sexism, religious intolerance, war, death penalty. They don't give much on flateries and titles as to be honest all the time is more important for them, than to be honest in special occasions.

I agree with path of one about the perception of quakers.
I am a former Catholic who now considers herself to be a Quaker. I have attended meetings but have not been made a member. I like the Quakers because of a lack of hierarchy (among other things)...Is applying for membership as a Quaker necessary to be one ?
I'd guess you could be Quaker even if you don't attend meetings. If you consider yourself Quaker, they'd probably be unlikely to say you aren't. They have always struck me as a pretty inclusive bunch.
There's another group that as far as I know isn't strict on doctrine either: the Freemasons. The minimum requirement is belief in some supreme being and a sense of morality.:)
I also am interested in exploring the liberal Quaker faith.
I live in San Jose, Ca, where the oldest meeting house in California is located.
It was built by Joel and Hannah Bean in the 1800's, and is still in use - (liberal meeting).

I became interested in the Society of Friends, when I read Hannah Whithall Smith's autobiography.
After years and years of culling through most of the "mainstream" Christian denominations, with their plethora of dogmas and doctrines, I recently, finally became completely fed up with the whole mess.
My answers were never answered, and I've grown more and more confused about Christianity.

I had finally decided that I knew that Jesus knew my innermost heart and longing for Him - (I'm still afraid of, and I'm sorry to admit, resentful of God, although I know that They are one and the same).

Since Jesus knew how hard I had striven to know Him, I would have to rely on a purely personal relationship between the two of us, and I have been praying that He would show me the inner light and have the Holy Spirit guide me.
When I began reading about Quakerism and their beliefs along these same lines, I began to want to learn more about their faith.

I'm sorry to hear that there have been so many schisms in the Society's history, but it seems to be inevitable with all faiths, that these divisions occur.

I would like to communicate with other Friends, and learn more about this faith that has such a unique belief system and such a rich history.
Thanks so much..
There is quite a well known John Wayne movie: "Angel and the Bad Man" which I watched the other night and it is about Quakers. It is actually quite a good film and illustrates the practical side of the Quakers. I strongly recommend it if you can locate a copy.
I have watched that movie on several occasions - and also "Friendly Persuasion", both which I liked enormously - Thanks for bringinging that up..

I've read some Quaker fiction, and am now interested in reading Quaker women's biographies, especially those around the 19th century - hence my enjoyment of Hannah Whitall Smith's.

I seem to notice that notable Quaker women of that time period (?), ended up embracing Universalism or the Unitarian faith, as in the case of H. W. Smith and Susan B. Anthony.

I also read last night that liberal Quakers may also be Universalists - and am confused on that point.
Can anyone explain that to me?
Thanks so much..

I'm not a quaker but did some checking on them a while back. Quakers can have differences in opinion and still be members. The meeting is set up to prevent one person having the say about what doctrines are to be believed, and it is accepted that different people will have a different point of view. A quaker believes the inner light is in the other quakers as well as themselves, and this implies one's inner light is not the outer light for everyone else. That is why a quaker can embrace a universalist revelation of life and of heaven, even though others do not. You could think of it as doubting one's own perception of the world enough to accept that someone else's perception is equal to one's own. Sometimes quakers approach this argument from a Christian vantage point using scripture verses and believe in preaching about Jesus, and sometimes they come from some other distinct vantage point and do not even mention Jesus at all. Some feel the inner light is just common sense. They all talk about the inner light, however.
Indeed there are. The US has Quaker Pastors and some Friends services there are indistinguishable from Baptist ones. Some Quakers consider themselves Orthodox (actually they seem to mostly be those Quakers with programmed meetings.)