This column deals with peace and justice issues from a variety of faith perspectives. As a Quaker, I want to share my reasons for working for peace, which are rooted in our Quaker peace testimony.

The Quaker peace testimony was first proclaimed in 1660 by the early Quakers in England when they declared that:

“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons for any end or under any pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world . . . .
". . . The Spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing of evil and again to move us into it; and we certainly know and testify to the world that the spirit of Christ which leads us into all truth will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons…”

(excerpts from a “Statement by the Quakers to King Charles II”)

These early Quakers believed, as we believe today, that war is not the answer. They believed, as we believe today, that living in the Spirit takes away the need for war.

A key to understanding Quakerism is in knowing that everything flows from our personal experience of the spiritual dimension in our lives. Quakerism isn’t based on belief. It is based on experience — a personal encounter with the power within. 
The Quaker peace testimony is a "testimony," in that we are "testifying" to a larger truth. We are acknowledging something — that there is a power that takes away the need for war. Quakers believe that there is that of God in everyone and that it is the spirit of God within us all that makes peace possible. We believe that this spirit has already acted and continues to act in us and our world. We believe that non-violence is the only spirit-led response to violence.
Obviously, war isn't over. People must still want it. And they do. War is rooted in greed. Our greed for material things leads us to war. We drive our big cars and then fight for oil supplies in the Persian Gulf. We worry that we won't be popular or “with it” if we don't wear the latest fashions or don't have the latest technological gadget. We fear our enemies and spend huge sums of money on military weapons. When this happens, we stop living in the power and the worldly powers convince us that having more is the way to happiness and that war is the way to peace.
But the power is always there. We can live in that power and it will take away more than the occasions for war, for it will take away the greed and insecurities that lead to war. When you've acknowledged the power, what does faith become? It becomes a testimony to the world that the spirit of Christ is among us right now and that we can have peace when we accept and truly trust the spirit within.
Quaker peacemaking is not a passive waiting. We listen to the spirit, we test, we work hard and we use those gifts our creator has given us. There are problems in the world, huge ones that need addressing, and we address them as the spirit moves us. But we do so out of a joy. And through our work, we ask others to join us in our joy in witnessing to the presence of the spirit within and following the way of peace.
When you work with the spirit, you don't get attached to results. Often we'll do things and have no idea how they've affected others. It's not our job to know, for it's not our job to be successful as defined by the world. We strive to be gracious and grounded even when the world rejects our testimony. We will be known to the world by how we witness to our trust in the spirit. 
The Quaker peace testimony is based on an unquestioning trust in the power within. We do not differentiate between "just" and "unjust" wars. We believe that all wars are fundamentally wrong because they put our faith in weapons instead of God. People sometimes criticize us as being utopian and not recognizing that there are those who would attack us. We do recognize this, but we trust in God and refuse to attack in return. We believe that God is present in both our friends and our enemies. We believe that the spirit of Christ tells us without question that war is not the way to peace.

To learn more about our Quaker Meeting in Crossville, visit our Web site at www.crossvillefriends.org.

This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice, an organization composed of representatives from various churches in the area, and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Emerson Abts, editor, at 277-5101.

                                          

 





Trending Video