Five Friends gathered on the morning of First month, the 9th, to read and discuss pages 372-377 in volume 1 of The Works of George Fox (1831). These journal entries from 1658 record two situations to which Fox responded: (1) a Jesuit’s holding forth an erroneous ecclesiology, and (2) an acquaintance’s troubled inward condition.
In the first piece of writing, Fox challenges the Jesuit to defend the church of Rome from the Quaker charge that it was “degenerated from the true church which was in the primitive times, from the life and doctrine, and from the power and spirit [the apostles] were in” (372). Our discussion begins at 19:30 in the recording by contrasting some Catholic ideas and practices with those of Quakers. The discussion moves to a comparison of the Quaker’s and Jesuit’s use of logic, and how the presence of Truth affects their argument’s outcome (26:55). From there, we share thoughts on the right relationship between reason and the spirit of Christ (36:00).
In the second part of our discussion, we look at Fox’s advice to lady Claypool who had made known to others her troubled state of mind. In this letter to Claypool, Fox advises her to still her mind and “be stayed in the principle of God,” which had been transgressed within. Among ourselves, we agreed that Fox’s direction for overcoming sin and transgression was a principle we had individually found to be valid, whether the troubling transgression was observed to be within ourselves, or whether it was seen to be manifested in others. References to the insurrection that had occurred at our nation’s Capitol a few days earlier filtered into our discussion. Having broadened our conversation to include transgression witnessed in others, we were led to consider the nature and meaning of the doctrine Christ takes away the sin of the world, as stated in John 1:29:
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
The recording has been lightly edited to remove pauses between speakers.
I cannot find the exact phrase that Jesus “took on our sins at the cross” although there is plenty of reference throughout the New Testament (in through types in the Old) that his death plays a role in our salvation. Most passages Jesus takes away our sin doesn’t take it on. The one exception — and the phrasing isn’t “took on” but the concept is there:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (I Peter 2:24 AV1611).
I want to distinguish three kinds of sacrifice. The Passover sacrifice — and I think the overwhelming evidence is a Jesus’s death is to be associated with this one. The Passover sacrifice is not administered by priests under the rules in Leviticus but by the household’s where people live. What saves is the act of obedience and performing it in the public marking of the household to demonstrate it. The next to the sin sacrifice. This is the sacrifice emphasized by most evangelicals. And finally the scapegoat. The scapegoat isn’t actually sacrificed. The sins of the people (the whole people) are put on the goat and the goat is driven into the wilderness.
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At the end of Barclay’s Fifth Proposition is a sentence that seems to me to encapsulate Friends’ understanding of Calvary: “nor is [the Light] less universal than the seed of sin, being the purchase of his death, who “tasted death for every man” [Heb. 2:9]; “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” [1 Cor. 15:22]. These verses that Barclay chose speak to me of the “straddling” nature of the crucifixion event, i.e., “straddling” in the sense that a particular temporal event connotes a movement forward for all mankind, something akin to Neil Armstrong’s statement when he stepped onto the moon’s surface. Only the crucifixion was not technical achievement, of course, but the step toward humanity’s full realization of being. The same dynamic is at play when Christ is referred to as the second Adam: the particular encapsulating the whole.