In recent years I have been baffled by Evangelical Friends who claim Quaker founder George Fox was a born again, biblically sound man of God. For example, in the Evangelical Friends textbook The Rich Heritage of Quakerism, Walter R. Williams touts George Fox as a godly man, omitting his heretical teachings.
Yet many writers outside of Quakerdom have exposed George Fox for what he truly was – a heretic. After researching George Fox and the early Quaker movement, I can only conclude that Fox was not only unregenerate (unsaved), but a Gnostic, a “Christian” mystic, and a “Christian” universalist. There were many born again, biblically sound Christians and churches nearby in Fox’s day. Yet he chose to reject them, teaching instead “the Inward (or Inner) Light”, “the light of Christ in every man.” No truly born again Christian would accept this teaching as biblical.
Early Quakers did not view themselves as a Protestant movement, but as “primitive Christianity revived.” Conversely, many biblically sound Christian historians do not even view the Quaker movement as a Protestant movement, it is so heretical. I would even go so far as to use the phrase “the Quaker cult”.
So it should come as no surprise that recent info has been uncovered, exposing George Fox as even more heretical/occultic than previously thought. I have provided the most pertinent excerpt below. Click here for the original source of this excerpt – a blog by Steven Davison. (Ironically, this shocking info has been revealed by Davison, a liberal Quaker, not an Evangelical Friend.) I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]:
“… I had always believed that Fox would never have countenanced the vaguely neo-Gnostic meaning for ‘that of God’ that is so common among us nowadays—namely, that there is some aspect of the divine in the human, a divine spark, as the neo-Platonists put it. Now it seems that George Fox was some kind of ‘Gnostic’, after all. That he did believe—or rather, that he had experienced in his visions of 1647 (“There is one, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition”) and 1648 (“I was brought up in the spirit through the flaming sword into the paradise of God”)—that he had experienced his own nature to be the “flesh and blood” of Christ, not separate or distinct from the substance of God, that “the light”, the “seed”, which all humans possessed, was “of God”, that is, the very substance of Christ’s heavenly body. That “the light” was not just a teacher or revealer or convincer/convictor, but that it was ‘metaphysical’ in its effect, raising up “the first body”, the paradisiacal body that was before the fall. That this was the nature of salvation in Christ: to shed the inner, ‘carnal’ body that could sin, and to be inhabited instead, body and spirit, by the immaterial, heavenly body of Christ himself, so as to partake of his power and authority and even perfection. That this indeed was the original foundation for Quaker ‘perfectionism’, the belief that one could live without sin. The authors and the works that make these assertions (Glen D. Reynolds, Richard Bailey, Rosemary Moore) are listed at the end of this post.
I could feel a little better about my ignorance of Fox’s understanding of the light because these authors and a couple of others [I wish this writer had named the additional authors] seem to have uncovered a deliberate effort on the part of early Friends to excise this aspect of Fox’s and early Friends’ theology from public record. They name, especially, Thomas Ellwood, the first editor of Fox’s journal, and William Penn, but even including Fox himself, to some degree. Soon after the Naylor affair in 1656, but especially after the Restoration, these editors did what they could to hide, deny, recast or otherwise explain away this Gnostic bent in order to avoid charges of blasphemy and tone down Quaker rhetoric in the face of the persecutions.”
Richard Bailey, New Light on George Fox and Early Quakerism: The Making and Unmaking of a God.
– Amazon description: “This study is a 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, especially toward Fox; and the blasphemy trials and the Nayler incident. These belong at the very centre 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 2nd and 3rd 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.”
Rosemary Moore, The Light in Their Consciences: Early Quakers in Britain 1646-1666.
Glen D. Reynolds, “George Fox and Christian Gnosis”, readable online, Chapter 7 [starts on p. 99] in The Creation of Quaker Theory: New Perspectives, Pink Dandelion, editor. [Other chapters also provide clues regarding Fox’s Gnostic views, and may be viewable online via this link.] [Note – I corrected this bibliographic info; the original blog listed the incorrect chapter title.]
Glen D. Reynolds, Was George Fox a Gnostic? An Examination of Foxian Theology from a Valentinian Gnostic Perspective
– Amazon description: “The combined effect of observations made by John Owen (Puritan Vice-chancellor of Oxford University) in tracts published in 1655 and 1679 was that Quaker theology renewed aspects of Gnosticism, a theology interpreted by patristic commentators as Christian heresy. This monograph argues that George Fox’s theological message (and in particular, his interpretation of the concept of revelatory Light) incorporated a remarkably similar soteriology and realised eschatology to that found in Valentinian Christian Gnosticism.
FOR FURTHER READING
Online version of George Fox’s autobiography – read this using discernment – nonevangelical (nonchristian) Quakers including George Fox himself were/are adept at using “Christianese” language. Note that the Introduction is by Rufus M. Jones. Jones was a liberal “Christian universalist” Quaker – yet many Evangelical Friends have fallen for Jones’ statements that George Fox was a born again Christian.