Gayle Beebe

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As a definitive work of the Society of Friends, the Journal of George Fox has set the tone and tenor for the Society's understanding of one's experience of God or the ultimately Real. Various interpretations of Fox have been offered, but a consistent theme in all interpretations has been Fox's emphasis on the necessity of an experimental or experiential understanding of one's encounter with God. A result of this consistent emphasis has been a trend Fox started himself: since one's experience of God is the touchstone of religious faith, the role or importance of religious texts, religious communities and religious doctrines must play a secondary role in one's apprehension of the ultimately Real. Because Fox emphasized the primacy of the Spirit, or the "light of Christ within," over any other religious authority the interpretive tendency has often treated his work as a call for radical individualism in religious experience. But this is simply not the case.