This is the great work of the Scriptures, and their service to us, that we may witness them fulfilled in us, and so discern the state of God’s spirit and ways upon them, by the inward acquaintance we have with the same Spirit and work in our hearts.

– Robert Barclay,
Apology, 1676

From the beginnings of the Society, Friends have turned to the Bible, and especially to the life and teachings of Jesus, to deepen our spiritual understanding, to seek guidance in our lives, and to gain inspiration and courage to put our testimonies into practice. Scriptures record some of the workings of God’s spirit among men and women and their attempts to understand God’s purpose for the world. These writings link us to those in the past who bore witness to truth, justice, and love, and their messages can awaken a yearning for these same values in our own lives as we increase our understanding of the Scriptures.

Because the Bible expresses the work of the Spirit, its authority is dependent on the Spirit itself. The same Light that inspired the prophets and apostles can illumine anyone who seeks to understand the truth. Such illumination is itself the highest authority. It unites us in the gospel of forgiveness, love, and community taught and lived by Jesus, and draws us into his struggle to realize the Kingdom of God, a world brought into unity with God’s will.

We acknowledge differences among ourselves about the nature and degree of authority we ascribe to the Bible and its parts. Many of us bring to its study the results of research and interpretation that have helped us to discover that which can truly speak to us. We believe that the spirit of God continually reveals itself to all peoples, and the writings of inspired men and women of all ages can speak to everyone today.