George Fox's Epiphany and Vision
…when all my hopes in [Christian ministers and professors] and in all men was gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, Oh! then, I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,” and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy…My desires after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing.
In 1647 England, as a 23-year-old, Fox was already a discerning critic of his culture. When human counselors could not fill his spiritual void, he turned to Bible reading and prayer, often in the sanctuary of "hollow trees and lonesome places." On some of these occasions he received "openings," e.g., that attending a university does not make a minister, that "the people, not the steeple, is the church," and that the same Spirit that inspired the Scriptures is their true interpreter.
in 1652, while traveling through the northern Dales making contact with and preaching to fellow Friends and Seekers, Fox arrived at Pendle Hill in Lancashire:
"As we traveled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in which places he had a great people to be gathered."
In a local inn that night Fox wrote a ‘paper to the priests and professors’ declaring ‘the day of the Lord…’. later writing, ‘that the Lord opened unto me, and let me see a great people in white raiment by a river side, coming to the Lord,'
1. There is a living, dynamic, spiritual presence at work in the world which is both within us and outside of us.
Quakers use many names to describe this spiritual presence. Among the names we use are God, spirit, the light, the inward light, the inner light, Christ, truth, love.
2. There is that of God in everyone.
This statement of belief is similar to the first statement, and Quakers will talk
about there being that of God in everyone, and it is the belief that the creator
has endowed each person with a measure of the divine essence, and that as a
consequence, all of life is sacred and interconnected.
3. Each person is capable of the direct and unmediated experience of God.
Our belief leads us into a form of worship that does not rely on clergy or liturgy or creed. Rather, we come together in the silence. We sometimes refer to our worship as “waiting worship.” Waiting to hear—listen for—the still, small voice within, and listening for that of God—the still, small voice—speaking to us.
4. Our understanding and experience of God is nurtured and enlarged in community.
When we come together in community, each of us brings our own manifestation of the divine energy. When we come together in community, we experience and embrace our diversity; we experience a much larger understanding and vision of God.
5. The Bible is an important spiritual resource, and the life and teachings of Jesus are relevant for us today.
For many of us, the Bible is an inspired record of humankind’s interaction with God through the ages. Quakers find that the truth and the teachings found in the Bible are an inspiration for daily living and also an inspiration for our worship together.
6. The revelation of God’s truth is continuing and ongoing.
Quakers are very clear that the revelation of God’s truth did not end with the writing of the Bible. We believe that God has continued to reveal God’s truth and make God’s will and energy, truth—known to humankind down through the ages, down to the present day.
7. We welcome truth from whatever source it may come.
We find that our experience of worship and our experience of the Divine is enriched by welcoming truth from different sources. We welcome spiritual truth from different sources.
8. Our inward experience of God transforms us and leads us into outward expressions of faithful living, witness, and action.
Individually and collectively, we witness to God’s presence in our lives by the way we live our lives and the way we model God’s truth in the world. One of the consequences of listening for the inward voice and being led into outward expressions of faithful living and witness and action are Quaker testimonies. Testimonies that are well known today are testimonies of simplicity and peace and integrity, community, equality and stewardship.
9. Modeling God’s presence in our lives is more important than espousing beliefs.
Quakers believe that the way we live our lives is of much more importance than what we say. There’s an old Quaker expression, “Let your life speak” and that’s very much a part of Quakerism: the understanding that the way we model God’s truth in our lives is to let our lives speak it.