Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
A common phrase you may see describing a particular denomination or church is, “Bible based.” But the Biblical basis of Fox’s message was not a surface adherence to certain passages, but a comprehensive alignment with God’s purpose throughout history.
Fox lived in a period that was Biblically literate and highly religious. Since Fox rejected all the various forms of Christianity of his day, an appropriate question might be, “Was Fox a Christian?” Lewis Benson’s lecture no. 3, The Relation of Fox’s message to the Bible, answers that question with a resounding “yes.” Further, if you understand what Benson is saying about Fox’s Christianity, you begin to wonder how people rejecting the message of Fox can claim the title, “Christian.”
The early Quaker’s Christianity is based upon the experience of Jesus Christ in and among them performing the functions of His offices. They experienced Christ fulfilling all the prophecies, types, figures, and shadows of the old covenant by becoming the New Covenant between them and God. The Christianity of their day, as well as much of that of ours, is built upon something else: a doctrine, a theology, a culture, a tradition. This is not the same as being a people gathered by the revelation of Jesus among us, whom we are to hear in all things. Lewis Benson stated:
There are several distinctive features of this apostolic gospel that Fox preached, and what I have to say about the biblical basis of the message will be related to them. One of these distinctive features is what might properly be called Fox’s functional Christology. He called people to a personal encounter with a Christ who is alive and who manifests himself to us as the teacher, prophet, priest, and king of God’s people. These “offices” are not just honorary titles nor mere attributes. We are being called in this gospel to know and experience Jesus Christ as our king, our priest, our prophet, and we are called to know him as the king, priest, prophet, head, and orderer of God’s new covenant people, and to know ourselves as being gathered by the power of this gospel into this new covenant community.
I have seen many denominations who claim to be calling people to a personal encounter with Jesus as their savior. But I have never encountered any other group than the early Quakers who calls people to an encounter with Jesus who is present in the midst of his people in a functional way, performing the duties of his offices in a way that we can all experience. And by these functions, we are made into the people of God.
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