[Rector]

Quietism

 

There are lots of opposites in the Christian faith. Opposites are not necessarily wrong, but they are obviously different. Like a brilliant cut diamond, truth is often many-facetted. Two opposites, rarely examined, are "activism" and "quietism". For myself, I lean toward the "quietist" bent. Qietism was a 17th Century reform movement that grew out of the Lutheran Church, so this way of thinking has been around for a long time.

The issue concerns discipleship; it concerns the gaining of holiness, of Christ likeness; it concerns the process of sanctification. I suppose the dominant form of discipleship in evangelical circles is activism. Becoming like Christ is something you have to work at. You have to work at being loving. You have to work at being obedient to the law of God. By this struggle we are shaped into the likeness of Christ. The Christian life certainly begins by grace through faith, but there are many who believe it progresses by obedience, by effort applied to the law of God.

Against this view, the Quietist sees improvement as a generous gift from a gracious God. The only way I can become like Christ, is if he makes me like him. The only way I can love like Christ, is if he gives me the gift of love. So becoming like Christ, becoming holy, being sanctified, is not so much a matter of effort, but more the acceptance of a gift. Faith is the crucial element, not effort. Waiting for Jesus, looking to him for my renewal, is the way I become like him. This is why I will often use the phrase, "let go, and let Jesus." This phrase sums up the Quietist approach to the Christian life.

I'm not sure where this journey began for me. Like so many believers of my generation, I had been brought up on a book titled "The Way" by Robinson and Winward. Most of my Christian life has been spent in guilt and failure. The more I tried to be faithful to my Lord, the more I failed. No matter whether it was prayer, Bible reading, witnessing, or just plain morality, I never seemed to come up to the discipleship described in "The Way." Thankfully, a Bible study on Galatians, led by a friend, moved me away from the path of law-effort to the way of grace through faith. I thank my Lord that I finally discovered that God the Father does not take note of my paltry Christian life. The Father is too blinded by the perfection of Christ, which perfection is mine as a gift of grace. As for this feeble self becoming like Jesus, this too is a work of grace. I can only but "let go and let Jesus".