There are two women that I feel very close to that have been shaken by Quakers. (Pun intended!) Neither one of them has felt her faith affirmed by a Society that believes that all people are saved.
A few years ago, I hired a young woman as a student employee at the library who was taking courses to become a licensed counselor. She was a charming person and a very good worker. She understood libraries. Libraries are not that well understood by the vast majority of people, mainly because they don’t give them a second thought.
I had an opening for a regular employee. She decided not to proceed to practice counseling straight away but to give herself a gap year to get herself settled into life away from her program. She applied for the job but was denied because she was a Unitarian. Or, in the words of HR, “not a Christian.” She described herself as a non-theist Christian; one that believed in the humanity of Jesus but not in the divinity. She believed that God is One and that everyone is “saved;” hence Unitarian Universalists.
So, too, the Quakers I know. They believe, as they do from the writings of George Fox, there is “that of God” in every person. Sometimes they call this the Inner Light. Oddly enough, the leaders of this Yearly Meeting refer to themselves as “Evangelical Quakers.” Somehow they mix “decision theology” together with their strong, unwavering belief in the presence of the Spirit of God in every soul. If God, via the Spirit, is in every one, then what “decision” is there to be made? Every one is, by definition, “saved.”
I have a dear friend that refers to herself as a “hallway Quaker.” I presume that means she believes in the social aspects of Quakerism but does not feel at home in the actual meeting, that is, awaiting in silence for the movement of the Spirit in some person to inspire or instruct the others at that particular meeting. She cannot find the strength inside to refer to herself as a Quaker. She is led to believe that she is not a Christian because she cannot in good conscience attend the meeting.
It is too bad that both women feel alienated by the Society of Friends, a religious group that fervently believes both women are saved by the Spirit of God that abides in them. I desperately want both of these women to be affirmed by the faith-group known as the Friends of God.