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Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel

Fox and Holy Spirit Christianity, Part 2 of 3

Even though Fox spoke and wrote about the spirit of God, at times calling it the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, what he has to say and how it relates to the gospel is all Hebrew, there is not a shred of similarity with Holy Spirit Christianity. For example: "For though I read the scriptures that spake of Christ and of God, yet I knew Him not but by revelation as he who hath the key did open and as the Father of life drew me to his son by his spirit." (Works, Vol. I, p. 75) Fox asserts that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one; not that they have unity and accord, but that they are one (See Works, Vol. III, p. 180)

Holy Spirit Christians ascribe all Godly gains to the Holy Spirit, whether in understanding, in behavior, or in righteousness. For Fox, the purpose of the spirit of God is to bring you to that birth wherein we can know Christ who is the truth, the life, and the way to the Father. Fox credits all righteousness, all power to overcome evil, and all obedience to the work of Christ. Take for example this excerpt from "An Epistle To All People on Earth; Shewing the ignorance of all the World, both Professors and Teachers, of the Birth that is to be Silent, and of the birth that is to Speak..." "...there is none upon the earth that come to have their spirits quieted, but who come to the light, that Jesus Christ hath enlightened them withal, and so comes every spirit here to have a particular satisfaction and quietness in his own mind, and here comes the weary to have rest in Christ, who hath enlightened them; and there is no one but holds the truth in unrighteousness, until he comes to that of God manifest in him; and so that of God manifested in him leads his mind up to God, he comes to the quiet and peaceable life and comes to retain God in his knowledge and his spirit is quieted and he comes to hold the truth in righteousness, and his mind is not reprobated; and such shall find mercy of God when their minds are guided up unto God, and their spirits and minds are quieted in silent waiting upon God, and in one half hour have more peace and satisfaction, than they have had from all other teachers of the world all their life time; and here they come to feel that which quiets their minds to God, and they find and feel the way of peace, and come to grow up in that life the scriptures were given forth from, and the life the saints lived in, and spirit which guided their minds up to God the Father of spirits, whereby every particular comes to a particular satisfaction; and all this bustling and teaching in the world for earthly things, men and people shall turn from it; for that is in the earth, it is that which went in Cora's way, and Cain's way, and Balaam's way, which is now standing in the way, which the apostles saw coming in before their decease." (Works, Vol. IV, p. 125)

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Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 4thMo. 22, 2015 at 14:02

I don't have any first-hand knowledge of Holy Spirit Christians, but I do know what Fox refers to here in this passage. From your description, Ellis, it appears to me that the difference between Holy Spirit Christians and Quakers is that the Quakers know and refer to a radical shift in experiential knowledge, whereas the Holy Spirit Christians refer to incremental change in understanding that remains grounded in the "earthly" or the natural/carnal/intellectual/emotional way that we refer to as the first birth. It is that first "Birth that is to be Silent," as Fox says, for that birth can but hold the truth in unrighteousness. Fox well describes here the advantage to be encountered, in having silenced the first birth and in waiting upon God.

Comment by Ellis Hein on 4thMo. 23, 2015 at 13:09

Pat, I don't know that I can really speak to what you are saying about the difference between Holy Spirit Christianity and the early Friends. But it may be helpful to describe my experience of these things, both as growing up among Evangelicals and some association with groups tending toward Pentacostalism.

It was the normal expectation that first one became "saved" by accepting Jesus' substitutionary death on the cross. It was further expected that one would undergo "sanctification" by receiving the Holy Spirit, a second work of grace.  This would fix all the issues remaining undone after the first work of grace.

There was no concept of gathering to hear Christ speak to us as a corporate body. There was no concept that my salvation depended as much upon Christ's teaching and other offices, inwardly and corporately, as his suffering on the cross. There was little or no mention of His resurrection connected to salvation. Jesus' work was finished. We now have the Holy Spirit and the Bible to carry us forward until Jesus' return. There was no concept of becoming the people of God of whom Christ was the head, among whom he appeared in all his offices. There was no concept that we could or should discern the mind of Christ and be led into unity on moral and social issues--a unity grounded in the power of Christ within and among us rather than the force of some ego.

No matter what the words they proclaimed as their statements of belief, these were the outcomes of their actions.

Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 4thMo. 24, 2015 at 13:26

It would be most frustrating to live within a culture of that type. The structural errors of the becoming "saved" through accepting the substitutionary death on the cross and the "sanctification" by receiving the Holy Spirit could be seen as an institutional attempt to get people aware, engaged, and moving toward the second birth, but at the high price of suspending critical thought. It seems to me to be a process that carries within it a defeat of its stated intention. Before one experienced Christ, how could one know what the cross signifies? How could one believe in resurrection unless one had undergone it inwardly? Keeping integrity of both reason and of conscience, I've found to be unequivocally necessary in bringing me to the point where I felt deep need for God. Though I couldn't have identified it as such at the time, that feeling is the inward crucifixion.  But perhaps all suffering does that eventually if one doesn't abscond into some form of deceit to avoid it. Thanks for describing your experience of the Holy Spirit Christian culture; I think I have a better idea of what it is and how it approaches the tradition we've received from the Scriptures and western culture. I'm deeply grateful that the 17th c. Quakers saw their way through to the actual intent of the tradition - one of the most powerful breakthroughs in history.

Comment by Ellis Hein on 4thMo. 25, 2015 at 12:05

My experience of God was at variance with the theological constructs I grew up in. It was this experience of God that called me out from among them, for He spoke to me saying, "Ellis, it is enough! Come out from among them." There is a passage in Vol. IV of the Works, pp. 148-149 which I quote below:

And now is the time come of Isaiah's prophecy, that the teacher shall be no more removed into a corner, though they have bread of adversity, and water of affliction, but thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, say- ing, this is the way, walk ye in it ; now all people being strangers from the covenant of light, their faces toward Egypt, which is darkness, the word calls behind, and all people are walking toward the first priesthood that is changeable, and the first covenant that is changeable, and doth decay, and to the synagogue and temple, and the ordinances that Christ blotted out, and maintaining the priesthood with tythes, which were of the first priesthood, but the covenant is changed that made them, and the command disannulled ; now this word is behind all these, for that is not the way, and the word saith this is the way from all those ways, the word saith Christ is the way, who saith learn of me, and saith God, this is my beloved Son, hear ye him, him that Moses said God would raise up, this is the word, here is the voice behind, and who heareth this voice, and hath heard this word, hears the Son ; in these last days God hath spoken to us by his Son, who is heir of all things, whose name is called the word of God. Rev. 19. Now they that are of the Jews, are for holding up synagogues, and temple, and priesthood, that hold up the first covenant as the Jews did ; the priests that take tythes, they will nothear this word, nor this voice behind them, they will have none of Christ, will not suffer him to reign over them, and so will not hear the prophet that Moses said God would raise up, and said people should hear, and so disobey Moses's command, and God's command, who saith, this is my beloved Son, hear ye him, and Christ's command, who saith, learn of me, whose name is the word of God.

The text goes on and I encourage all to read the whole article on the Second Covenant beginning on page 144 of Vol. IV

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