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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Meetings, Swine, and a Moldy Communion

By Roberts Liardon

It seemed that the people of every independent group that had broken from established religion were coming out in droves to see and hear George Fox. By 1652, Fox had perfectly blended his spiritual message, appealing to the social conditions and aspirations of his audiences as well. Fox appealed to them all-Baptists, Independents, Presbyterians, Puritans, and those who had no special group to which they belonged. He continued to interrupt church meetings, and each time the entire building seemed to thunder with his voice of conviction.

Fox spared no one's feelings in his attack on religion. He called the church of his day, "the false church ruled upon the beast and dragon's power." He didn't hesitate to declare that his followers were members of the true church. He thoroughly welcomed the opposition, loving the "wonderful confusion it brought among all professors and priests." Many times, those who heard him blast a church service would be convicted, leave that church, and become his followers.

Meanwhile, in his own camp, Fox refused to call the gathering of his followers a church service, so he simply called them meetings.

Prayer was a very vital part of the meetings, and intercessory entreaty was common. Fox and the early Quakers believed in being filled with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. An early Quaker by the last name of Burrough wrote several times in his book, Preface to the Great Mystery, these words: "Our tongues [were] loosed and our mouths opened, and we spake with new tongues as the Lord gave us utterance." This outpouring of the Holy Spirit came often as the Quakers waited in silence.

In these meetings, a witness stated that the presence of the Holy Spirit would be so intense that it felt like the soul was in desperate agony, so painful that it had an external effect. Frequently, the people in the meetings would be shaken with "groans, sighs, and tears" much like a "woman in labor." Some would swoon as "with epilepsy," and while lips quivered and hands shook, the worshipers might lie on the ground in this condition for hours at a time.

Some who attended these meetings would erupt in violent opposition when the presence of God would manifest itself like that. Once, when the Holy Spirit fell on a meeting, a man ran toward Fox to challenge him-to which Fox bluntly commanded, "Repent you swine and beast."

One of my favorite stories has to do with Fox crudely challenging the Communion tradition-the belief of transubstantiation. Transubstantiation is the idea that the bread and wine are actually transformed into the actual body of Jesus during Communion. Fox encountered a Jesuit priest who believed it to be that way. He dramatically challenged the Jesuit to divide the bread and the wine, to bless or consecrate only half, and to allow the people to see if the portions that were the body and blood of Jesus resisted molding. Of course when the Jesuit priest refused, Fox was vindicated.

About Roberts Liardon

Roberts Liardon Recognized as a leading prophetic voice, Roberts Liardon is a best-selling author, founder of Roberts Liardon Ministries, and an internationally known speaker. He began preaching and teaching when he was fourteen years old and has spoken in over 100 nations.