Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
The following is a summary of a discussion of the first few pages of Fox's Journal that occurred a couple of weeks ago in a New Foundation Fellowship conference call set up for that purpose. The summary is followed by two comments: the first coming from another participant in the discussion, and the second from one who was unable to join in that day.
(1) A small number of us gathered by conference call to read and discuss the Works of Fox, beginning with volume one. So this time we began with Fox's account of his early years of how the Lord prepared and fitted him for the work to which he was called. We read as far as Fox's account of the deep trouble and despair he had to undergo before coming to that opening of "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition...."
Our discussion centered on the universality of the human condition of realizing that we have an essential lack. Some people do everything in their power to run from that realization; some do everything they can to fill that void with human invented religion or materialism; some realize that this is something that must be grappled with or gone through. It was a mark of faith or the beginning of faith in Fox to seek for answers to those problems. He sought among those accounted reputable in the established church as well as in the separatists, but found them all equally worthless. Sing songs; take tobacco; join the army; get married would not reach to his condition. By persevering and enduring the uncertainty, Fox was brought through all his troubles to find that which alone answers the essential lack. We noted that those who run from this encounter and try to fill the void with all manner of other things experience much discomfort in the presence of those who have gone through the ordeal of searching and finding the voice of Christ that can speak to our condition, enough discomfort in many instances to be the cause of persecutions. A later comment via email likened Fox's perseverance with Peter's statement in John 6 "Lord, where else can we go? You have the words of life."
(2)Thanks for the recap. I'd add only that in our discussion it was brought up that some of Jesus's parables refer to that necessary awareness of something lacking, something missing that must be located: the parable of the lost coin and also the treasure buried in the field. Also mentioned were the parallel stories of Jesus's healings. He healed those who were aware of their need for wholeness, and once they were healed, he told them that their faith had made them whole. Both these parables and the healing stories point to the profound, painful consciousness that one is in need of that which one cannot find. Enduring with that discomfort is essential and faith in the truth; the only alternative is idolatry.
The good news is that God has shortened those days for the elect seed in all human beings:
"For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days" (Mk. 13:19-20).
That is to say, we are dependent upon God to send his Christ into our hearts, and it is his "good pleasure to give [us] the kingdom" (Lk.12:32).
(3)Thank you for the recap. I'm sorry I couldn't participate this time. I had a previously scheduled event, which escaped my memory when I signed up. I have read the first chapters of the Journal Of George Fox so many times the cover's writing is nearly erased. George Fox's telling of his trials and troubles were of great help to me in that he wasn't specific as to what they were. So when I had trials and troubles as a new believer, I was comforted that he experienced them, too. In reading George Fox, the truth just leaped off the page--if that makes sense.