Christ as Savior
There has been some discussion lately about Jon Watt's video of "Friends Speaks My Mind", especially around the lines:
I'm not a Christian,
But I'm a Quaker,
I've got Christ's Inner Light
But he's not my savior
I was a little uneasy when I first heard this song, and a little more concerned when a couple of young Friends missed the distinction and thought it was saying "I'm not a Christian, I'm a Quaker". Even so, I enjoyed Jon's concert very much (he came to perform for the Southern Appalachian Young Friends in Asheville), and enjoyed meeting him.
As I mentioned in a comment on Jon's blog, my reaction to questions like "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" is often to ask what the person means by that question. One could very well ask about the meaning when someone who declares "I've got Christ's Inner Light but he's not my savior".
Since Jon's song also contains the phrase "but don't blame Elias Hicks for all our problems", I thought it would be interesting to see if Elias Hicks wrote about Christ as Savior. I found a good description on page 304 of Elias Hicks' Journal. I think it illustrates the way the idea of a savior was internalized, and fits well with George Fox's description of how the Light helps you to resist temptation. Hicks wrote:
First day, the 6th of 7th month. Soon after I took my seat in our meeting to-day, my mind was opened into a view of the great need man stands in of a Saviour, and that nothing can give him so full and lively a sense thereof, as a true sight and sense of his own real condition; by which he is not only brought to see the real want of a Saviour, but is also shown thereby, what kind of a Saviour he needs. For it must not only be one, who is continually present, but who is possessed of a prescience sufficient to see, at all times, all man's enemies, and every temptation that may or can await him; and have power sufficient to defend him from all, and at all times. Therefore, such a Saviour as man wants, cannot be one without him, but must be one that is always present, just in the very place man's enemies assault him, which is within, in the very temple of the heart: as no other Saviour but such an one, who takes his residence in the very centre of the soul of man, can possibly produce salvation to him: hence, for man to look for a Saviour or salvation any where else, than in the very centre of his own soul, is a fatal mistake, and must consequently land him in disappointment and errour.
I realize that the above paragraph does not mention Christ, but elsewhere in Hick's journal (p. 330) he does make it clear that he considers Christ in this role. That's not what I wanted to emphasize, though. As I have written before, Friends experienced a transformation from the Light, in which their sins were shown to them, and the desire to do those things was driven out. I believe that is what Hicks is saying here - the Light is saving you from your sin by removing the desire to sin.
I acknowledge that there are other meanings ascribed to "Savior", in terms of atonement and such, but, it seems to me like the transformative meaning is very powerful, and something that can be readily experienced. Shouldn't this be something we desire instead of deny?