Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
In this age of toleration there are two questions that are not tolerated. The first question is, "Can you be a Quaker without being a Christian?" One's first impulse, on hearing such a question, is to look about at various groups claiming the name of Christian and to wonder, "Does he think I have to be like that?" This brings us to the realm of the second question. "Can you be a Christian without being a Quaker?"
It is time to define our terms. Christian is much the older word and therefore perhaps the most familiar to people. It could be defined many ways. But for my purposes, I will begin its definition with, "A Christian is one who hears and follows the voice of Christ." In other words, a Christ-ian. We will leave the definition there for the moment.
George Fox wrote in his Journal that in the year of 1648, "…the Lord God opened to me by his invisible power, how that every man was enlightened by the divine light of Christ. I saw it shine through all; and that they that believe in it came out of condemnation to the light of life and became the children of it; but they that hated it and did not believe in it were condemned by it, though they made a profession of Christ." (Works, Vol. 1, p. 89) "Then sometime after, the Lord commanded me to go abroad into the world which was like a briery, thorny wilderness. When I came, in the Lord's mighty power, with the word of life into the world, the world swelled and made a noise, like the great raging waves of the sea. Priests and professors [i.e. those professing faith in Christ], magistrates and people were all like a sea, when I came to proclaim the day of the Lord amongst them, and to preach repentance to them." (Ibid., pp. 89-90)
Fox's commission for the work he did was as follows:
For a complete statement of Fox's commission, see his Journal or the Works of Fox, Vol. 1, pp. 90-92.
The definition of Quaker is seen in the people of God, in scorn called Quaker, gathered by this work which Fox and others undertook and who were made alive by the appearance of Jesus in their midst.
The work which Fox and others were sent by God to accomplish could be summed up as follows. They were sent to call people away from being man-ians or serpent-ians that they might become true Christ-ians.
That is a big claim to make about the message and work of the early Quakers. Many think it preposterous, deluded, or Quixotic to claim that there is as much need today for the gospel preached by Fox and for the life of obedience lived by the early Quakers. When we claim that this same gospel must be preached again today, when we say we are called to re-proclaim the everlasting gospel preached by Fox and the early Quakers, we are stepping into an unequivocal commission to be clear and to draw distinct lines between truth and falsehood, between what brings life and what brings death, who is the author of each, and how man is to be restored to the image of God--a living being.
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