New Light on George Fox and Early Quakerism
|Author: ||Bailey, Richard|
This study is a departure point for new discussion about Fox's meaning of the inner light. It argues that Fox's inner light was the celestial Christ who inhabited and divinized the believer. Fox argued for a celestial inhabitation of the believer that was almost corporeal. This helps explain Fox's thaumaturgical powers, the exalted language used among early Quakers and, especially toward Fox, the blasphemy trials and the Nayler incident. These belong at the very center of early Quakerism, and are the logical result of the core elements of Fox's teaching. His notion of celestial flesh was one of the greatest challenges to Christian orthodoxy to appear in Christian history and it may be compared to Jesus' own challenge to Orthodox Judaism or the appearance of the high heresies of the second and third centuries after Jesus. Early Quakerism, as a result, was the most charismatic sect to appear since the days of the early Church, or at least since the era of Montanism.
". . . the book is valuable as a study of aspects of early Quakerism which have often been obscured and ignored. . . . It is to be hoped that this book will provoke further debate on what Quakers and others in the mid-seventeenth century really meant when they spoke of their unity with God. In opening up the subject, Bailey has done Quaker studies a service." - The Mennonite Quarterly Review