Walt whitman who was raised by parents inspired by Quaker thought, later wrote: "George Fox stands for something —a thought—the thought that wakes in silent hours—perhaps the deepest, most eternal thought latent in the human soul. This is the thought of God, merged in the thoughts of moral right and the immortality of identity. Great, great is this thought—aye, greater than all else."
compiled from several sources
The son of a Leichestershire weaver, Fox lived in a time of great social upheaval and war. He rebelled against the religious and political authorities of the day by proposing an unusual and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith,. While working as a shoemakers apprentice, He felt called to travel in search of enlightenment
After years of internal struggle he found peace when he surrendered to what he described as the "inner light of the living Christ". Preaching from this inner light He traveled throughout Britain as a dissenting preacher, for which he was often persecuted by the authorities who disapproved of his beliefs.
In prayer and meditation he came to a greater understanding of the nature of his faith and what it required from him; this process he called "opening". He also came to what he deemed a deep inner understanding of standard Christian beliefs.This lead to his establishing the society of friends (the Quakers )
Among his ideas were:
- Rituals can be safely ignored, as long as one experiences a true spiritual conversion.
- The qualification for ministry is given by the Holy Spirit not by ecclesiastical study. This implies that anyone has the right to minister, assuming the Spirit guides them, including women and children.
- God "dwelleth in the hearts of his obedient people": religious experience is not confined to a church building. Fox refused to apply the word "church" to a building. Fox would just as soon worship in fields and orchards, believing that God's presence could be felt anywhere.
- Though Fox used the Bible to support his views, Fox reasoned that, because God was within the faithful, believers could follow their own inner guide rather than rely on a strict reading of Scripture or the word of clerics.
- Fox made no clear distinction between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Fox married Margret Fell, the widow of one of his wealthier supporters; she was among one of many woman leaders among the Friends. His ministry expanded and he undertook tours of North America, the West Indies and the Low countries. In the middle of those trips he was imprisoned for over a year. He spent the final decade of his life working in London to organize the expanding Quaker movement.
Fox's charisma, selflessness, tireless commitment, deep spirituality and organizational abilities made him a remarkably charismatic personality. His greates legacy to the society of friends became the movements profound dedication to the work of peace, reconciliation and non-violence.
compiled from several sources