Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
The scriptures proclaims that:
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech,
they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."
- Psalm 19:1-4
God is speaking to his people at all times and in all places. George Fox realized this and made it his life's work to share what the living Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was saying to those who would listen.
Before I was a Quaker I had sought truth in many other places - believing it to be outside of me; needing to be explained by one other than I. What I found to be true in all other religions and spiritual traditions was that the Lord Jesus Christ was the universal example of the truth - the absolute model for holiness in every tradition. To the Buddhist he is the ultimate Bodhisattva; giving his life for the salvation of the world. To the Hindu he is a great Avatar - the descent of God to restore purity to the human race. To the Muslim and Baha'i Christ is the Spirit of God - the full manifestation of God's grace in human form.
But, my the great mercies and grace of the Lord; in the same spirit as that which awakened the heart and mind of George Fox, I was opened to the truth that what I had found to be true in other religions was the pervasive work of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of Christ as the very Word of God, the ultimate truth of reality that is embodied in all forms of the truth because he is the very source of truth. All truth that is known points to him.
The joy of this awakening has caused an unquenchable thirst to know and hear God intimately. When I walk in nature and observe the beauty of the creation I see the Lord within and hear his affirming voice that "all is well!" I understand what it means to be born from within and the scriptures are alive in a new and different way than ever before.
To me, Quakerism is not a branch or denomination of Christianity - it is the pure, primal Way of Christ. It is to follow the footsteps of the Apostles and Disciples in declaring that the "Kingdom of God has come near."
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Martin, you may be interested in the following paragraph from Lewis Benson's What Did George Fox Teach About Christ:
Amazing, your quote from the 1858 essay! How do we move from viewing the way early Friends understood their faith as exclusivism, as not seeing the value in other religions? There is a real push-back against this way of understanding Fox's message. To many, it feels like We are Right and Everyone Elise is Wrong.
I don't know if you have read Lewis Benson's What Did George Fox Teach About Christ. If you have not, I highly recommend it. There is a gospel that is right and true for all mankind, which gospel was given to Fox and early Friends to proclaim to all. There is a gospel, made by man, which does nothing to remediate man's problem, endlessly occupying our attention and diverting us from hearing and following the voice of Christ. This is the case in our day as much as it was in Fox's day. I am often taken with Edward Burrough's description:
So, what is the gospel we have? Imitation of the words of ancients or have we gone through the process described by Burrough above?