In this passage from his Journal, George Fox explains why he feels that direct experience of the Holy Spirit is more important than the Bible. He claims that he has experienced the "Word of life" which empowered the apostle and prophets. This spirit "giveth life" while the letter (Biblical literalism) killeth, in Fox's view. I agree with Fox, but like him, "I have no slight esteem for the holy Scriptures" and have started numerous Bible studies. I have experienced how reading the Bible in a group can be a deeply spiritual practice as we share our questions, insights, and personal experiences. For those who would like to know more about contemporary Quaker attitudes towards the Bible, I recommend this book edited by Paul Buckley and Stephen Angell.
Here is what Fox says about the Bible in his Journal:
On a certain time, as I was walking in the fields, the Lord said unto me, "Thy name is written in the Lamb's book of life, which was before the foundation of the world": and as the Lord spoke it, I believed, and saw in it the new birth. Some time 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, 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.
I was sent to turn people from darkness to the Light, that they might receive Christ Jesus; for to as many as should receive Him in His light, I saw He would give power to become the sons of God; which power I had obtained by receiving Christ. I was to direct people to the Spirit that gave forth the Scriptures, by which they might be led into all truth, and up to Christ and God, as those had been who gave them forth.
Yet I had no slight esteem of the holy Scriptures. They were very precious to me; for I was in that Spirit by which they were given forth; and what the Lord opened in me I afterwards found was agreeable to them. I could speak much of these things, and many volumes might be written upon them; but all would prove too short to set forth the infinite love, wisdom, and power of God, in preparing, fitting, and furnishing me for the service to which He had appointed me; letting me see the depths of Satan on the one hand, and opening to me, on the other hand, the divine mysteries of His own everlasting kingdom.
· Fox clearly felt he had found the Truth and led to share his truth with others. How do you feel about doing sharing your understanding of truth?
· How do you respond when you hear lies being spread by those in power?
· How do you feel about the Bible? Do you find wisdom and truth in it? If not, where do you find wisdom and truth?