Are Quakers Christian?

When George Fox, the first Quaker, had his spiritual awakening in the 1640s, he rejected much of what he saw as institutional corruption within the Church of England and other Christian denominations, but he did not reject Christianity entirely, nor did his fellow Friends. They saw what they were doing as taking Christianity back to its source. (Another famous early Quaker, William Penn, even called one of his books Primitive Christianity.)

This made perfect sense for a religious movement arising in 17th-century England. Over the centuries, however, the Quakers’ rejection of firm religious dogma has resulted in a diversity of thought on the subject. To be sure, you will find many Quaker meetings that hew to Christian tradition; some even incorporate readings from Scripture into the meeting for worship.

Other meetings have shifted to a more universalist perspective. From the days of George Fox, Quakers have believed there is “that of God in everyone,” whether they’ve taken that to mean the capacity to connect with God, a recognition of our status of part of God’s creation, or even an actual spark of divinity within each of us—including people from non-Christian cultures. Thus, some Quakers believe that Spirit reveals itself to all people, within their cultural contexts, in ways they will understand.

Fox was a Christian, despite his rejection of the Church and the priestly class, and so the nature of his initial revelation was that “there is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.” If you’re put off by Christian rhetoric, Spirit will likely frame its message to you in a different vocabulary…or perhaps even without words at all.

Next: Can I be a Quaker and still follow my previous religious traditions?

Learn more at Friends Journal

God, Jesus, Christianity and Quakers,” Jim Cain

Are Quakers Christian, Non-Christian, or Both?” Anthony Manousos

Are We Really Christian?” Margaret Namubuya Amudavi

Expectant Visions of a Christian Anarchist,” Zae Asa Illo

“What we as Quakers are offering is a space in which to explore our spirituality. We do have boundaries around it, we have particular ways of doing things… but we offer a huge amount of space to allow people to explore their journey.”