This is part of a series called “answers for a small-f friend.” These articles are deliberately simple, informal, and under 200 words…the kinds of answers that I might give casually over a cup of lemonade.
If you’re wanting to go deeper, I recommend Faith and Practice (any yearly meeting’s version) or Quaker Process for Friends on the Benches by Mathilda Navias. If you’re a video person more than a text person, try the QuakerSpeak series, available online.
Do you have a question I should add? Let me know in the comments.
Are non-Christian Friends really Quaker?
“Are ________ really Quaker” is such a common question. The blank gets filled in differently depending on who I’m talking to.
Worldwide, I’d estimate at least 95% of Friends are Christians, although they wouldn’t have a shared definition of the word. I count myself in the other 5%. To me, the word Christian implies belief in the particular divinity of Jesus Christ, and that’s not me. I value the Bible as an historical record of my spiritual ancestors, but I’m not specifically Christian.
I do think that what others call the Inner Christ is the same as what I call the Holy Spirit or God. I doubt that the Divine Being is all that fussy about exact names. To me, if we are prepared to acknowledge a Being beyond ourselves that is wiser than we and that guides us, and if we are ready to commit (even imperfectly!) to corporate discernment in our faith community, then we can be Quaker.
I definitely run into Christian Quakers who find me dangerous or just think I’m wrong. We tend to co-exist more peacefully when I demonstrate that I don’t want to challenge their Christianity. And I don’t. They are being faithful.