Truth for Friends was known both through the revelation of scripture, which they insisted was interpreted through the aid of the Spirit that gave it forth, and the direct experience of God’s continuing revelation in the individual and the faith community. They did not adopt the creeds of past generations. Rather, Quakers testified to the truths discerned through their own individual and corporate experience of God’s leading. These “testimonies” grew and changed over the centuries as Friends wrestled with their own leadings into truth, the changing culture around them and fresh insights into scripture.
As the testimonies developed, they were compiled in books of faith and practice that were used by Friends for guidance. Advice was offered about what others had found helpful in their spiritual journey; questions (also known as “queries”) based on the testimonies were asked of Friends as a means of enabling deeper reflection on one’s growth in faith.
We have given a brief explanation of each of the five normative testimonies. Each section begins with a query related to that particular testimony from the Quaker Faith & Practice of Britain Yearly Meeting, the Religious Society of Friends in Britain. A sampling of ways that each testimony is expressed in campus culture is also provided.