The Puritan View of Quaker Prophecy in the 1600s – John Boruff

A reading and charismatic evaluation of John Brown of Wamphray’s Quakerisme: The Path-Way to Paganisme, chapter 3: “Of Inward and Immediat Revelations” – here Brown is refuting Robert Barclay’s Apology who was a Quaker universalist, and sadly not a good representative of George Fox’s teaching. John Brown was a Covenanter (not a Puritan per se); and was to a degree open to miraculous gifts, as is evident in John Howies’ The Scots Worthies, in the lives of George Wishart (d. 1546), John Knox (d. 1572), John Welsh (d. 1622), Robert Bruce (d. 1631), and Brown’s personal friend Alexander Peden (d. 1686), also called “prophet Peden” and who was a seer of visions. In Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Voice of God, p. 77 he refers to the murder of John Brown; at which time Peden saw a vision of a falling star, (or a real falling star), and interpreted it as a sign that John Brown, a bright and shining star for the Covenanters, had fallen on this day. Although Brown was an anti-Arminian, for which I will have to forgive him; he was also against the universalism found in Barclay’s Apology, which I have to agree with him about. But the sort of logic that he uses in this chapter against the dreams, visions, and voices of the Quakers does not seem very compelling. Rather, it seems to be more of a rambling about doctrines; and might I add, an inconsistency: because he seems to speak against the whole experience of visions, all the while he has a prophetic friend in the background (Alexander Peden). In the 1600s, it seems the real battle over charismatic Christianity was over Calvinist charismatics (Covenanters) and Arminian or universalist charismatics (among the Quakers).


George Fox, the Founder of the Quakers, Was Not a Universalist

If it can be proven that not only the early Quakers, but their founder George Fox, believed in universalism–then the Quakers should NOT be included in any history of the miraculous gifts. When it comes to George Fox, we seem to find conflicting statements. In his “Letter to the Governor of Barbados” (1671) we find a plain denial of universalism. In Margery Abbott’s Historical Dictionary of the Friends (Quakers), p. 351, she states that Fox encouraged the Muslim king of Algiers to remain faithful to the Koran, as it appeared to be a holy book to him. But when you actually look at Fox’s letter “To the Great Turk and King at Algiers” (1680), we find that Fox is merely using his acquired knowledge of the Koran in an apologetic sense. The circumstance was that there were Muslim terrorists under this king’s rule who were torturing, imprisoning, kidnapping and placing ransoms, enslaving, and sodomizing various Quakers; and that Fox was arguing from the Bible and the Koran to persuade the king that such abominable behavior was contradictory to the principles of the Bible and Koran, as Fox was pleading that his Quakers be set free. Nowhere in the letter does Fox say that he personally believes the Koran is inspired by God, in fact he repeatedly refers to such things as “your Koran” and “your own Mahomet,” implying that Fox personally does not take the Koran for his own faith: this instance is apparently a misrepresentation by Quaker universalists to lend credence to their belief. (Similarly, universalists in the United Methodist Church try to do the same thing with John Wesley’s writings.) Far from being friendly with Islam, the letter carries an angry tone, in which Fox is forcefully calling the Great Turk to repentance: “Now, have not you Turks forgotten Lot’s preaching, and degenerated from your own Koran, and are become robbers, and to follow that unknown filthiness, with which you defile yourselves, (namely), the lust of men?…Now, are not you Turks degenerated, not only from the law of God, but from Mahomet’s teaching in his Koran? Do not you devour the poor orphans, whom you take captive, and injure them when you beat them, because they will not give you more money than they have, and because they will not lie with your men, which is abominable?” Pleading, he said, they are “not only under the judgment of the law of God, but under the judgment of your Mahomet, who live there by spoiling and robbing your neighbors, that think you no hurt…therefore, you Turks that do such things, are judged by the great God, and all his holy prophets, and Jesus Christ, and his apostles, to act contrary to God’s pure, just, holy, righteous law, and they are witnesses against you, as is also your own Koran.” Fox, knowing that the Muslims acknowledge the virgin birth of Christ, but deny that Jesus is the Son of God, reasons with them from their own Koran: “And you do confess, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the will of man, who was conceived of Mary, and that she should conceive and bring forth without the touching of man; and He being conceived by the Holy Spirit, then whose Son can He be but God’s?”

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is the founder of WesleyGospel.com, a husband, father, and sometimes an open air preacher. He graduated from UNC Pembroke in 2008 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and views himself as a Wesleyan Pentecostal. As a Christian, he feels connected with all members of the body of Christ, but can identify the most with churches like the Assemblies of God and the Vineyard. In 2015, he released "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," which is meant to be a Bible study for open air preaching. For his other writings, search articles on this site or see the E-Books section.
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