This time, we’re talking about George Fox’s moment of revelation, when he heard a voice. In his journal he wrote:
When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I 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.
Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been; that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence who enlightens, and gives grace, and faith, and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall hinder it? and this I knew experimentally.
Fox had been seeking for a while, going from priest to priest looking for answers. It was only after he gave up that he got a message directly from God telling him to look to Jesus instead of men. Here, Fox is very much in the vein of “giving testimony” like we mentioned when talking about the spiritual search. Quakers had a serious Pentecostal vibe going in the early days, and the quieting down might have been what left a vacuum in which Pentecostalism formed from ex-Quakers.
The most important thing is first-hand experience, not recitation of second-hand knowledge.
Some people experience an explosive “come to Jesus” moment (literally!), but others have a gradual spiritual awakening or spiritual deepening. Different groups have completely different expectations about how this works. For some Evangelical Christians, you are expected to name the date you were saved. Liberal Quakers might find that odd. And in groups where it’s normal to be born into the faith (such as Catholics), it just isn’t really spoken of.
In seeker-friendly churches (including at least liberal Quakers—let us know in the comments your experiences with other branches!), showing up and attending for a while before a conversion experience can be a pretty common thing. Mackenzie did this gradually. Micah, on the other hand, started going to a liberal Quaker meeting, had an explosive conversion experience, and still wasn’t a Christian for a while after.
Light versus Conscience
Finally, we talked about distinguishing between the guiding of the Light within and the conscience. Micah’s explanation of the difference between the Light and the conscience almost seems like he’s been memorizing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Faith & Practice:
For Friends, the Light Within is not the same as the conscience or moral faculty. The conscience is a human faculty, which is conditioned by education and the cultural environment; it is not, therefore, an infallible guide to moral practice.
So how about you: explosive or gradual? Christian endpoint or not? Have you ever heard a voice or had a vision?
- the movie Saved!