Religious Society of Friends - Practical Theology

Practical Theology

Quakers bear witness or testify to their religious beliefs in their spiritual lives, drawing on the James advice that faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. This religious witness is rooted in their immediate experience of God and verified by the Bible, especially in Jesus Christ's life and teachings. They may bear witness in many ways, according to how they believe God is leading them. Although Quakers share how they relate to God and the world, mirroring Christian ethical codes, e.g. the Sermon on the Mount or the Sermon on the Plain, Friends argue that they feel personally moved by God rather than following an ethical code.

Some theologians classify Friends' religious witness into categories—known by some Friends as testimonies. These Friends believe these principles and practices testify to, witness to, or provide evidence for God's truth. No categorization is universally accepted.

In East Africa, Friends teach peace and non-violence, simplicity, honesty, equality, humility, marriage and sexual ethics (defining marriage as lifelong between one man and one woman), sanctity of life (opposition to abortion), cultural conflicts and Christian life.

In the USA, the acronym SPICES is often used (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship). Rocky Mountain Yearly Meeting Friends put their faith in action through living their lives by the following principles: prayer, personal integrity, stewardship (which includes giving away minimum of 10% income and refraining from lotteries), marriage and family (lifelong commitment), regard for mind and body (refraining from certain amusements, propriety and modesty of dress, abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and drugs), peace and non-violence (including refusing to participate in war), abortion (opposition to abortion, practical ministry to women with unwanted pregnancy and promotion of adoption), human sexuality, the Christian and state (look to God for authority, not the government), capital punishment (find alternatives), human equality, women in ministry (recognising women and men have an equal part to play in ministry).

In the UK, the acronym STEP or PEST is used (peace, equality, simplicity and truth). In his book Quaker Speak, British Friend Alastair Heron, lists the following ways in which British Friends testify to God: Opposition to betting and gambling, capital punishment, conscription, hat honor (the largely historical practice of dipping one's hat toward social superiors), oaths, slavery, times and seasons, tithing and promotion of integrity (or truth), peace, penal reform, plain language, relief of suffering, simplicity, social order, Sunday observance, sustainability, temperance and moderation.

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