I often read Johan Mauer’s fifth day commentaries on CanYouBelieve.me. Recently his writing included an excerpt listing “Quaker Testimonies” taken from the developing Faith and Practice of Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting. I found it refreshingly…. er, Quaker?

I mean that in contrast to the drift of many Friends groups toward generic American evangelicalism, abandoning testimonies historically valued by Friends. I’m not advocating a stance that ignores the times in which we live in favor of some idealized past. (Frankly, our past has never been ideal!)

However, these are testimonies that faithfully represent Jesus’ character and teachings that Friends have tried to seriously pursue and embody. They remain Jesus’ teaching and character; they are not obsolete! If we are to follow Him, we try to live these testimonies in an age of 21st technology and often violent global society where they remain relevant and necessary as the life to which Jesus calls.

But let me get to the testimonies! You can read the whole commentary by Johan here. The testimony portion that I want to highlight (by quoting) follows.

We understand the Quaker testimonies as a call:

  • to live simply and sustainably;
  • to seek nonviolent responses to conflict, and refuse participation in war and preparation for war;
  • to speak the truth and keep our promises;
  • to make common decisions based on our community’s practice of prayer and discernment rather than majority rule or force of personality;
  • to regard each other—and all people—with a commitment to equality and equity, rejecting all false distinctions based on social, cultural, or economic status;
  • in the wider world, to support, advocate, and initiate efforts toward peace, justice, care of Creation, and relief of suffering in ways that are consistent with these testimonies;
  • in all things, to put Love first.

As we set forth these values and commitments, we acknowledge that they are to some extent aspirational, not an inventory of our successes as of today.