Fox, Christ and the Bible
In Fox's letter to the Governor of Barbados, he writes:
Now concerning the Holy Scriptures, we do believe that they were given forth by the Holy Spirit of God through the holy men of God, who spoke, as the Scriptures of Truth saith, "As they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21); and they are to be read, and believed, and fulfilled and he that fulfills them is Christ; and they are profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
- Journal, "Letters to the Governor of Barbados," p. 604
But early on, in Fox's life, he had not yet received the true revelation that there is one, Christ Jesus that could speak to his condition. Therefore, the Bible was a mystery to the young Fox until God revealed Christ Jesus. Then Christ opened up the Scriptures to Fox and enabled him to discern the Truth in Scriptures. Small wonder Fox realized that
Christ was and still is king of kings and lord of lords.
God was concerned about possible misinterpretations of His rulings for humankind. Therefore, He first sent the Hebrew prophets to declare that we need to turn our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. In other words, He was instructing His people not to resort to the violence in their adherence to God's commands.
God felt his people did not listen and seemed to be in rebellion and therefore, He sent Jesus to correct the misconceptions about God's relationship to His people. Our Heavenly King and Prophet came and declared God's Truth to His People:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says 'You fool!' Shall be in danger of hell fire. . . You have heard that it was said of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart. . . Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord'. . .You have heard that it was said 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist evil. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
- Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 33, 38-39 (NKJV)
No wonder Fox discerned what was important in the Bible. He listened and obeyed Christ who admonished his disciples to love each other as He loved them.
Small wonder Fox alluded to the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews often in his ministry.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made worlds. . .
-Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV)
Yes, Fox and other early Friends because they understood the role and power of Jesus recognized that we need Jesus' enlightenment to understand Scripture entirely. Our own minds are too finite for us to interpret God's words and Fox and his followers understood our limitations. Therefore, in their reading the Bible, they relied on God's intrusion to bring them to an understanding of what God required of them.
Early Friends never discarded the biblical writings. They relied on the Holy Spirit to delineate God's writings. In that way, we can be a true people of God. To put it simply, we need to become conversant with biblical writings but we must rely on Jesus to understand the commands of God for His people.
- Arthur Berk