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George Fox: A Christian Mystic by George Fox

George Fox: A Christian Mystic

by George Fox, Hugh McGregor Ross (Selected, edited and introduction)

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I'm not actually big on the Quakers as a whole, but I think George Fox was sincere in his faith and probably had a genuine revelation and conversion experience. That being said, Quakerism had a tendency to go in the direction of what I would call "spiritual nihilism." I define "spiritual nihilism" as any ideology that puts all spiritual matters purely in the realm of subjective experience. In other words, everything that one experiences that is of a purely subjective nature (i.e. personal and unverifiable), and that could be construed as "revelation", is given the stamp of approval no matter how fanciful, delusional and stupid it truly is. This kind of pop spirituality is very common today with the notion of the "relativity of truth" and common among the "spiritual, not religious" class of people. In Fox's day it had not yet reached the kind of ridiculous extremes that we see in the modern world, but Quakerism does have some of this in seed form at least, while still being Christian for the most part at that point in time. Faith is indeed a personal thing, but the idea that all notions that pop into one's head qualify as genuine God inspired revelation is a recipe for gullible delusion at best and mental psychosis at worst. The asylums are full of people that talk to saints and believe that they are chosen for this, that and the other. St. Paul exhorted Christians to test the spirits and all revelations. Quakerism is an example of what happens when discernment takes a backseat to fantasy and objective truth is diminished. I say all of the above because the editor of this selection is an example of the kind of "spirituality" that Quakerism was to a degree the harbinger of. His opinions and introductions I could have done without.
George Fox was not to blame for all of the things that later became of the Quakers; his heart was in the right place and his was a mostly understandable reaction to the kind of statute based scholastic legalism that plagued England in the mid 17th century. The pendulum always swings the opposite way. Christian experience has always needed to balance subjective experience with objective checks and balances using the bible, other believers, learned common sense etc.
This book, as the title suggests, collects portions of Fox's writings that are of a more mystical variety, but even these, surprisingly enough, are fairly sober and not wholly unorthodox ideas. They do show the kind of rich inner experience of George Fox's faith and it comes across as genuine. Fox's writings I give 5 stars because they are all sincere and Christian for the most part. I also give 5 stars to the choice of texts the editor selected. I give 2 stars for his introductions that give plenty of evidence of the kind of purely subjective spirituality that holds that truth is subject to belief, rather than belief is subject to truth. We have way too much of the former in the world today. And that form of spirituality is simply nihilism in fancy dress. ( )
  Erick_M | Jun 4, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Foxprimary authorall editionscalculated
McGregor Ross, HughSelected, edited and introductionmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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