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The Society of Friends owes its being to the personality of George Fox, who was born in 1624 in a Puritan home. Gradually he came to three 'truths':
The fundamental principle for which Quakers stood is usually today called the Inner Light, which is God in man. This direct experience of the Inner Light precluded any theological formulations, so Quakers did not have a Creed; neither did they make the Bible the primary source of their faith. Quaker services had no fixed form: they waited silently for the Spirit to move them. There were no ministers or priests or formal sacraments, since all life was deemed to be sacramental.
The experience of the Inner Light found its expression in social crusades, in philanthropy and reform, in the repudiation of war and the commitment to peace as a positive way of life. Perhaps the most famous Quaker of this period was Elizabeth Fry, who expressed her beliefs by visiting prisons and becoming involved in prison reform.
Again, there were laws which penalised these people for not belonging to the Anglican Church, including the Test and Corporation Acts which were finally repealed in 1828. Dissenters were not so severely punished as Catholicsbecause at least Dissenters were Protestants, and did not acknowledge the authority of the Pope.
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Last modified 4 March, 2016
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