First and foremost, Friends believe that there is that of God, or the Divine, or Truth, or the governing Principle of the universe, in each and every person. Of almost equal significance is the experience that this inward aspect of the Divine (historically referred to as the Seed, Inner Teacher, Inner Christ, etc) can lead and guide us in our daily lives, in matters which seem trivial to major life choices. Most all of our testimonies, faith and practice stem from theses core experiences.
Because there is that of God within each of us, we are all equal (thus the testimony of equality). And because there is that of God in each of us, it is not acceptable to kill another (thus the peace testimony). Because being guided by this inner aspect of the Divine is central to our faith and practice, we limit the complexity of our lives in order to be able to hear its leadings (thus the testimony of simplicity). And because we are seeking to lead our lives in accordance with this primary principle, there is no separation between our secular or religious lives, in our dealings with each other or in our prayer life, in our speech and in small matters and in large (thus the testimony of integrity).
Implicit in all of this is the common strand we call continuing revelation, which George Fox, one of the founders of Quakerism, expressed as “Christ has come to teach His people today.” This was a radical, even heretical belief in Fox’s day, when it was thought that revelation ended with the ultimate bodily revelation of Jesus. Our experience of continuing revelation is central to our understanding of our worship, vocal ministry, and business practice. We know ourselves to be led, and we seek to speak from this leading in worship, and to discern this leading in our practice of business.
That we can discern the will of God is a weighty assertion, which most are hesitant to name so directly, yet it is a core assumption behind most of our faith and practice. We also affirm that individual discernment can be distorted by our personal desires and issues, so we entrust this discernment to the body of the community. This is the reason behind our corporate discernment in business, and the basis of our clearness committees for membership, marriage, etc.
Finally, it is our experience that our corporate worship enhances our access to that of God within. That is why we worship together, and not at home alone or just with our families. It is our experience that something happens in the corporate body gathered for Meeting for Worship or Meeting for Worship for Business that radically improves our capacity to hear the inner promptings that might lead us to speak in Meeting for Worship, to act, and to discern the will of God in decisions for our business.