I find myself working with a George Fox tract, "To All That Would Know the Way to the Kingdom" (p 15 GF Works, volume 4).

Parked in the very first paragraph we find three (3) direct citations of scripture:  John 3:3-8, Revelation 1:9 & Colossians 1:13. Here's something that jumps out at me: he introduces the gospel passage with "Christ saith" but Revelation with "John the divine said" and Colossians with "the apostle said". "Said" is universal past tense of "to say" but "saith" is third-person present tense singular. In other words, what Paul spoke we said into a particular place and time. What Jesus said he speaks today - he speaks into time eternally from eternity. 

Now while the Christology of that (and the implications for our understanding of the Light/Inner Guide) may be fascinating, I think I would be doing GF a disservice by running off in that direction. He is pretty clear that salvation comes from faithfulness to that voice (he would actually be comfy with the word "obedience" here I should think) and not in speculative enquiry into doctrines about it. Better to savour a meal with a friend than to argue about its contents.

Look at how his convictions about Christ embed himself in his very syntax. His behaviour is an expression of his conviction and his experiences. This tract itself is an expression of this life shaped by conviction. This is not an attempt to justify Quaker doctrine in the theological marketplace. In this tract Fox basically says, you disagree with me. Good! Now turn within, listen to the voice of God in your own conscience -- then we can compare doctrines. How often do we do that when we are in the heat of verbal battle?

Views: 439

Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 8th mo. 15, 2016 at 8:15am

It is in reading Fox's writings that false notions about him and about Friends faith are dispelled. Your coming to the conclusion that Fox's "behavior is an expression of his conviction and experiences" and "not an attempt to justify Quaker doctrine in the theological marketplace" is proof that informing oneself is worthwhile.

The final thought in that powerful last paragraph in the post is perhaps the most difficult one for contemporary liberal Quakers to tolerate: that Christ is the truth, not the individual's philosophy about this or that religious ideal. People having the mind of Christ (where all are in unity) is an entirely different consciousness from people having many autonomous intellectual perspectives.   I hope that more people follow your example of reading Fox's writings.  

Comment by David McKay on 8th mo. 21, 2016 at 5:27pm

Thank you Patricia.

I have  a question. And you seem well acquainted with early Quaker writings. Here is a quotation from the same GF tract I mentioned above: 

Thou that lovest that light, which Christ hath enlightened thee withal, thou bringest thy works to the light, that thy deeds may be proved that they are wrought in God;

My question is around the word "proved". When I do a search for "proved" in the Authorized Version (KJV) the word "proved" appears to more often mean "tested" than it does "confirmed" -- i.e., the 17th century colloquial speech tended to use the word slightly differently. Do you think Fox is using "proved" in the sense of "tested" here?

The tract is in George Fox Works, volume 4 on page 15 if you're looking for context. 1990 New Foundation Fellowship reprint of the 1831 edition.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 22, 2016 at 2:48am
Hello David. George Fox uses saith when quoting John and Paul too. Examples can be found throughout his writings:

Here is an example of him using saith in connection Chist, Paul, James and even scripture itself:

It may be they may talk of him with the lips, and bow the knee, put off the hat, &c. But that is not the honour; for they that live not in the fear of God, do not honour the king. Drunkards, and swearers, and cursers, you fear not God, therefore you honour not the king ; for the scriptures saith, "ye shall not swear nor curse," as Paul saith, to the Galatians, and as Christ saith, Matt. 5. and James saith, James 5. And all ye who live in adultery, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, whoredom, lasciviousness, effeminateness, pleasures, gaming, sporting, pastime, which stirs up vain and idle words, (for which you must give an account) and vain actions, and taking God's name in vain, ye fear not God that do so; therefore ye honour not the king, but do dishonour him, and this nation, and his government, and his kingdom; "for righteousness exalt a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people," saith Solomon; and, saith the apostle, this know ye, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, or covetous man, who is an idolator hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, or of God." 5 Gal. 5.
Source: The Works of George Fox Vol. 4 page 210, Philidelphia/New York 1831, reprinted from the 1706 edition. From the tract entitled 'A word in the behalf of the King'

Also of note, Fox also often quotes Christ, Paul, and John using 'said' too. It is noteworthy, however, that I am not able to find and example of him writing "scripture said." He seems always to write: "scripture saith" which is interesting. Generally speaking, even today we do not often quote scripture saying "scripture said" we say "scripture says." After all, scripture is always present to us. As you seem to suggest, the same would be the case for those who know Christ's inward presence in all things.
Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 8th mo. 22, 2016 at 8:04am

Thanks for this question, David. I think that Fox is using the word "proved" in the sense of "tested," but there's more that needs to be said.

Fox had found that the spirit of Christ that had been inwardly revealed to him was the same spirit by which the prophets had written the scriptures, and so, not surprisingly, when he speaks and writes, scriptures' words come immediately to mind, as they are words from the same spirit that he loves and wishes to communicate. In the lines you've  quoted, Fox is referencing Jn. 3: 19-21, especially the last verse, which I've put in italics:

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Jesus is here explaining the deciding factor that determines whether or not a person is open to the light: does he love the truth and attend to it, or is his life determined by what he loves instead of the truth (an idol). Is he willing to be seen and judged by the light for what he is, or does he refuse to see himself, preferring darkness in which he cannot see. The first function of the light is to show where we've fallen short; it judges us perfectly. Are we open to hearing the light's judgment?

So, why am I bringing this all up? Prior to the second birth which Fox describes in the opening paragraphs of the tract you're reading (To All That Would Know the Way to the Kingdom), no one's deeds are, nor can they be, "wrought in God." We need to go through the inward crucifixion of seeing ourselves as we are (a dying to the natural self) before we are enabled to be in unity with the light (resurrected into the spiritual body), and it is only in that unity with the light that our deeds are manifestly apparent to ourselves that we are now operating from the power of God. This was the state of the prophets who wrote the scriptures, of Jesus who knew them and himself was "in the Father, and the Father in him," and in George Fox who knew Christ in himself and operated from the same spirit as the prophets and apostles, and is today possible for any human being, who is willing to endure coming into the searching, judging, and then empowering perfection that God in his love provides to us, his creatures.

So, your quotation from Fox encapsulates is one elegant, powerful sentence what I've attempted to explain of the process of being open to God's judgment, and seeing what needs to be set aside that is out of the light and hinders our unity with it, and then having done so, to receive glorious unity with the light, where ourselves and our activity (deeds) are informed through a partaking of the divine nature and thus lifted up to perfection.

The "testing" that is done by the light of the natural state (first birth state) can never reveal deeds wrought in God; it reveals what needs to be set aside in order for God's will; wisdom; righteousness; in short, perfection, to be wrought in us, which is Christ within. Our part in this process is to love the truth, so as to humbly see ourselves as we are, where we fall short of the glory of God. 

Comment by David McKay on 8th mo. 22, 2016 at 9:13pm

George Fox uses saith when quoting John and Paul too. Examples can be found throughout his writings

Thank you Keith, for the counterexamples. I need now to adjust my hypotheses.

I'm now confronted with the question: why is there an inconsistency in the use of the verb "to say" not only in this tract but in the same paragraph? I suspect the answer lies in non-theological considerations as much as theological ones. That is to say, education and/or dialect and/or shifting speech patterns of the period.

Comment by David McKay on 8th mo. 22, 2016 at 9:21pm

Hello Patricia.

Thank you for locating the Gospel of John reference. I had been so focused on locating instances of the word "proved" in Scripture that I neglected other forms (i.e., "reproved").

His fascinating how saturated with scriptural language Fox`s writing is. Even when not quoting directly there is a richness of indirect references.

It's also interesting that he is changed "reprove" to "proved". He reworks a passage warning what happens to those of us who reject light into an affirmation about those who love the light.


You need to be a member of QuakerQuaker to add comments!

Join QuakerQuaker

Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.

You can also make a one-time donation.

Latest Activity

Keith Saylor posted a blog post

Drawn outside the reflective nature to guide human relations.

There are people who testify to the witness of how the Holy Spirit leads them to minister (guide…See More
10th month 5
Ginny left a comment for William F Rushby
"Thanks William. Unfortunately, I don't live in Western Australia but it is good to know there…"
9th month 28
William F Rushby left a comment for Ginny
"There are some Conservative and Conservative-leaning Friends in the Perth area."
9th month 28
Robert Ketron updated their profile
9th month 28
Ginny updated their profile
9th month 28
John Michael Wine liked Kirby Urner's discussion Thumbnail History
9th month 27
John Michael Wine liked Kirby Urner's discussion Thumbnail History
9th month 27
John Michael Wine liked William F Rushby's blog post Wisdom from an Old German Bpitst Brethren website
9th month 27

© 2021   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service