The Paradox of Quaker Belief

Most Quakers agree there is an Inner Light in every person. But is the Light Christian or is it universal?

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Jon Watts

Jon Watts launched and directed the QuakerSpeak project for its first 6 seasons. Keep up to date with Jon’s work at his website.

21 thoughts on “The Paradox of Quaker Belief

  1. very well written for persons not familiar with Quakers. And this is good . Many explanations that exist lack this clarity…..Thank you

  2. wow. This is sounds totally different than what I’ve believed for the past 40 years. My belief has been, and continues to be that “The Light Within” is “that of God in everyone”. Not just a “conscience” as this gentleman says, because even evil people contain the Light, albeit they may be unaware of, or ignoring it.
    The “Light” is bit of God within each of us. This belief that God is within every human being is the foundation of the Quaker beliefs that every person is of value, that all are equal, the foundation of the strong Peace, and anti slavery leadings, the urge to help the injured and downtrodden whatever country they’re from, no matter what they believe, even the enemy. “The Light Within” is God. It may be Christ for those who believe Christ is God, but it may also not be. The same Light is within Jews, and Muslims, and those with no faith at all.

  3. Yes, the question matters as does this healing response.
    Thank you for your words and your own personal openness to grow into the fullness of Friends.

  4. I found this commentary very interesting and helpful. As a Catholic who attends Sunday Meeting with a local DE Worship Group, I was brought up to believe in the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) of Christendom and still believe. However, over the years, I have read a fair amount about historical events, other cultures and their religious beliefs and have come to believe that contemporary religions are a reflection of when each of our ancestors originally migrated from Africa, which route they took by choice or by force, and which wars’ outcomes affected them and which communities assimilated them and what the spiritual/religious beliefs of each of those cultures and communities were along the journey.

    I have come to believe that there is a “spark of the Divine” in each of us and that there are many similarities among many religions’ beliefs. I believe that Christ’s teaching about love of God and others is the foundation of all true spiritual belief, but for the reasons outlined above, such beliefs are not the exclusive province of any particular religion. I realize that this is a broad generalization, but I hope I’ve effectively communicated the need for tolerance, respect and understanding of different ways various cultures have developed to honor and worship the Almighty Creator. Others’ devoutly held loving beliefs should not threaten our own.

    1. I believe there was Jesus!. And since we are all are part of the creator/creation, there Jesus was as well, and a model for the rest of us.

  5. so beautifully articulated…for those of us who have drifted towards many “lamps”…I’m fully convinced there is no one path, that’s why I love my newly discovered Quaker experience…

  6. One does not have to be a Christian to be a Quaker. There was “spirituality” before Christianity. That of the Spirit or God is in everyone.

  7. Thank you Robert Campbell….
    It would seem that the highest spiritual power manifested to us in the flesh is known as The Christ…
    this entity is known by many names …Abraham, Moses, The Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed and yes of course, Jesus the Christ.
    The Divine sends us these messengers when we need them most…actually it looks like every 500 years or so.
    Perhaps the latest manifestation was given to us in the 20th century, amid the turmoil of World Wars and Nuclear oblivion…that being Dr. Dahesh of Lebanon.
    Love the Quaker (all in compassing) view of spirituality.

  8. For me as a Quaker, it is self evident that the light is neither denominational, nor gendered, nor raced, because it is not anthropomorphized. The moment we attach it to one particular person as its source, it loses its mystery and its pwer, while prioritizing one kind of person over others. The light is at once ubiquitous, ordinary, and mysterious.

  9. Hi! I’m pretty new to Quaker though, though I have been leaning into this path for at least ten years. I harmonize with the light being universal and benevolent. In my experience Christianity is neither universal nor benevolent. I am hopeful that as I listen to the light more, I will have less fear of Christians.

  10. Thanks, Ellen Andrews, Patricia Preuss and Jules and other who express the universality of the Divine, in all ages and places. The Divine, or the Spiritual in the Universe is not limited by time or place. We learn from what speaks to our condition, and for many, Christianity (do unto others as you would they do unto you) speaks to their condition while to others Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or other faiths speak to their condition.
    To me, Jesus is the great teacher, who preached mercy and charity, and spoke to the spirituality in many. Let us honour the Light in each of us, whatever we name it. Quaker beliefs allow us to welcome the spirituality of other faiths.

  11. Thanx Maida..indeed the revelation and appreciation of other and all faiths is something that the Quakers are known for.
    The Unity of Faiths is paramount in Daheshism, as well.

    What is Daheshism?
    It is a new Spiritual Message of Guidance that embodies the essence of all religions, yet goes beyond any of them in order to quench the thirst of truth seekers by providing them with a unique perspective on the Universe, our existence, and purpose in life. It is a new garment for the body of traditional thought and belief. The aim of Daheshism is to provide a universal belief that encompasses all other beliefs. It accomplishes synthesis rather than fragmentation of religious beliefs and expansion rather than contraction of philosophical thought.

    Who is Dahesh?
    The Divine Spiritual Power known as “Christ” is the highest Spiritual Power before God. On Earth, this Power manifested itself to us in various forms, at different times, for different people, and on different missions. The most notable manifestations of Christ are the Prophets and Guides who descended to Earth in order to provide humanity with salvation and guidance. Viewed in this context, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, David, Solomon, Jesus, Muhammad, and many others were manifestations of Christ. Dahesh is the latest manifestation.

  12. What? I see that I come from a different place, but I see “the light” as coming from what I call God, and what others might call Spirit or the Divine. That doesn’t exclude a sense of Christ, but neither does it require it, or limit vision to it. Honestly, this is the first Quaker Speak video from which I have felt excluded and, even, dismissed. It hurts.

  13. It is difficult to find a church which honors the spirit within rather than a set creed one must adhere to. While I believe there is a need to commune with others, at times it feels false to be with others who think so differently, or who do not seem to think at all, but just go through the motions.

  14. I think that one way to express what Doug Gwynn is getting at is to say that the Light of Christ that shines inwardly on everyone has always existed. It is universal. Even before Jesus walked the earth the Light of Christ shone. It leads toward God and our right relationship to all creation. Some do think of this inward light as conscious, but the inner light is not exactly that. I don’t think you have to be a Christian to be Quaker, but then I define Christianity so broadly that many Friends would say I am not one. As a Friend, I think we are healthiest when they consider this paradox in a “both and” way rather than either or.

  15. It is very humbling to be reminded that all beings have the Light. With the cultural and political conflict we are experiencing, it is far too easy to “demonize” someone with whom I disagree than to see that spark. I will work to be mindful of this.

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