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that of God... confounding the deceit

Last week I quoted the full text of a frequently cited letter of George Fox, often quoted as:

be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your life and conduct may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one; whereby in them ye may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you: then to the Lord God you shall be a sweet savour, and a blessing.

There are actually two other uses of "answer[ing] that of God" in the same letter, both in contexts which raise some challenges that aren't prompted by the use above:

In the power of life and wisdom, and dread of the Lord God of life, and heaven and earth, dwell; that in the wisdom of God over all ye may be preserved, and be a terror to all the adversaries of God, and a dread, answering that of God in them all, spreading the truth abroad, awakening the witness, confounding the deceit, gathering up out of transgression into the life, the covenant of light and peace with God....

Now will I arise, saith the Lord God Almighty, to trample and thunder down deceit, which hath long reigned and stained the earth. Now will I have my glory out of every one. The Lord God Almighty over all in his strength and power keep you to his glory, that you may come to answer that of God in every one in the world. Proclaim the mighty day of the Lord of fire and sword, who will be worshipped in spirit and in truth; and keep in the life and power of the Lord God, that the inhabitants of the earth may tremble before you: that God's power and majesty may be admired among hypocrites and heathen, and ye in the wisdom, dread, life, terror, and dominion preserved to his glory; that nothing may rule or reign but power and life itself, and in the wisdom of God ye may be preserved in it.

While the first quote shown above reflects the positive message I think most Quakers would prefer to discuss today, these last two (which actually surround the top quote in the letter) present a darker - but still compelling - picture.

"Be a terror to all the adversaries of God, and a dread, answering that of God in them all, spreading the truth abroad." I don't think Fox is calling for Quaker terrorism, but rather points to something powerful that Quakerism suggests about the "adversaries of God": the truth is within them as well. "Love your enemies" indeed. Quakers were known for praying for their persecutors and jailers, and this call shows their further motivation.

The last of these quotes emphasizes that God's glory is in everyone, with a millenarian-sounding call of His return. Here we see "answer that of God in every one in the world," followed immediately by "Proclaim the mighty day of the Lord of fire and sword" - this answering isn't remotely a simple recognition of the potential for good in people. Rather, it calls them to a witness which will force them to challenge themselves and their world, joining a powerful force that may carry them places for God's glory, not their glory.