An Outreach of Stillwater Monthly Meeting of Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends
What Do We Believe?
Creeds and other memorized statements of belief have always been
regarded as imperfect by traditional Friends. We believe that
because Christ has come to teach us Himself, it is important to listen
and respond to the messages that He provides to us personally and
corporately, rather than substituting the discoveries of others for our
own experience. Nonetheless, because we believe that God is
singular, we believe that worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth will
ultimately lead to similar revelations among us all.
Acknowledging that all of us are at different stages of what we regard
as the same journey, we can identify the main components of our
Christian faith. The following is a description, not a mantra to
God is love, and all else follows from that.
God Himself is the true foundation of knowledge, and the purpose of
earthly existence is to serve and glorify Him. God speaks to
human beings in this age as he has to the patriarchs, prophets, and
peasants of old, and the testimony of His Spirit is the only true
source of this highest knowledge.
The Scriptures are very useful, but are a subordinate source whose
validity springs from the Spirit. They contain the minimum
necessary information for salvation, if assisted by the Holy Spirit,
but alone are not an adequate primary rule of faith, practice, or
individual Christian faithfulness. Original sin is not transmuted
to infants as a predestined flaw. As men and women, we are born
innocent, but inevitably tend to sin by our own natures. God
extends His grace to give men and women the power to overcome sin and
become genuinely holy and obedient.
Jesus teaches and guides us by means of the Inward Light, and this
Light illuminates our conscience, convicts us of our sins, and is the
agency by which we are given strength to overcome it. The Inward
Light of Jesus Christ is the means of our salvation. Salvation
comes from the free gift of Godís grace, received in faith,
demonstrated in our lives by our works.
This universal saving Light is extended to all people, everywhere, and
at all times. There is no predestined failure of any man or
woman. The Light can bring salvation even if the Scriptures are
absent. Outward knowledge of the historic Jesus is not a criterion
for salvation by Him.
Receiving and accepting the Light transforms the individual,
sanctifying and justifying him or her. Good works are an
inevitable indicator that this has taken place. Fully accepting
the Light and becoming fully sanctified will result in a sinless earthly
existence, immune from temptation, if that is Godís will. But
rejecting the Light is always possible, and even after we accept Godís
grace, we can through our own will turn from it and be lost.
Unpaid and spontaneous ministry is how we worship in Spirit and in
Truth, and its responsibility may fall to anyone at any time.
Religious education and a professional clergy are not required to
minister Godís word. All true and acceptable worship to God is
offered in the inward and immediate moving of the Holy Spirit--not
limited to times or places. God through his love and tolerance
may condescend to accept other forms if offered in a sincere spirit.
Outward physical sacraments are mere symbols of the real,
inwardly-experienced sacraments, whose true nature is only spiritual,
and do not in themselves
provide the participant with grace. Genuine baptism occurs with
the Holy Spirit, and continues throughout the worshipperís life.
Water baptism is an ineffectual shadow of truth, but may accompany a
true baptism of the Holy Spirit and of Fire. Water baptism of
infants confers nothing and is unmentioned in Scripture. Genuine
communion is inward and spiritual, and the use of bread, wine, or juice
is a shadow that adds nothing to the truth.