Sunday, 22 November 2015

Truth's Triumph In The Eternal Power Over The Dark Inventions Of Fallen Man.



George Fox advocated religious toleration in his tract Truth’s Triumph of 1661.  Gwyn (1995 p 244 ff) makes a most interesting analysis of this work, contrasting Fox’s argument for religious toleration with the liberal argument advanced by John Locke.  Locke, who encountered the Quakers and had a poor opinion of them, believed, according to Gwyn, that truth would triumph through the free market exchange of ideas, in the intellectual equivalent of the free exchange of goods in a market economy.  Fox, by contrast, ‘insists upon truth’s triumph in a gospel of sacrificial love’ so that truth is not established by the exchange of ideas, it is merely given.  Truth is not objective or value-free but is value-ladened with God’s concern for justice and mercy.  Gwyn finds in Truth’s Triumph further confirmation of his thesis that early Quakers represented the difference between the covenant and the contract, between the revolutionary and the capitalist.  As elsewhere in his book, Gwyn lets his insistent Marxist interpretation of Quaker history get in the way of the importance to us today of the early Quakers.  Gwyn’s account of Truth’s Triumph, stripped of the Marxist jargon, presents Fox’s admirable work as the recognition of truth as a process, rather than a fixed position.  The Quakers recognised then, as now, that truth is not a set of dogmas or even of propositions which may be subject to revision, but a matter of integrity, sincerity and open-mindedness – a process in which people work together humbly but with commitment to discern the love and truth in their hearts.

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