Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Then the priest of Drayton, the town of my birth whose name was Nathaniel Stevens, came often to me, and I went often to him; and another priest sometimes came with him; and they would give place to me, to hear me; and I would ask them questions and reason with them. This priest Stevens asked me, why Christ cried out upon the cross, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ And why he said, ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not my will, but thine be done?’ I told him, at that time the sins of all mankind were upon him, and their iniquities and transgressions, with which he was wounded; which he was to bear and to be an offering for, as he was man, but died not as he was God; so, in that he died for all men, tasting death for every man, he was an offering for the sins of the whole world. This I spoke, being at that time in a measure sensible of Christ’s sufferings, and what he went through.
This account from George Fox’s Journal dates from a period early in the Journal and from a time before he started to have his "openings" and a time when he was deeply troubled in his conscience both regarding what he called "temptations" (which she attributed to Satan) and also by the lack of integrity he saw around him. By integrity I mean a lack of coherence between professed religion and lived faith.
This is a short excerpt and yet there is a lots that fascinates me about it. And most of the Quakers I have encountered would find what I find fascinating rather dull and unimportant to them. Most of the Quakers I know are from what is commonly referred to as the liberal branch of Friends. And so even if these Friends are sympathetic to more conservative religious stances they are immersed in that liberalism.
For example, our friend George seems to take for granted what is currently being referred to as a penal substitution theory of atonement. He accepts the theology of the Calvinists that the sins of the world were placed on Jesus' shoulders and then nailed with him to the cross. I'm not sure I buy that model of salvation any longer. It is at best woefully incomplete and at worst partially responsible for much that is wrong with the Christian faith today.
The other thing I find fascinating here is the implicit doctrine of Incarnation that we find here. God abandoned Jesus on the cross. Jesus died as a human being and not as God. That was necessary for the sacrifice to be fully enacted. When Jesus cried out on the cross he did so as a human being. Again, not my theology. I think when Jesus cried out on the cross did so as God. Any other understanding of the events of Holy Friday leaves me with an unintelligible faith and a God unworthy of human worship.
But then again, I am a bear of very small brain, and more than a little aware that I could have gotten something wrong.