Quietism: A Dangerous Heresy – John Boruff

I have to repent for something. In my studies of the prophetic and Christian mysticism, I have made references to the Quietists Madame Guyon, Francois Fenelon, and Miguel de Molinos as if they were spiritual. But they are not. I have a friend who has fallen into their Quietist teachings, and am beginning to understand now how bad this teaching is. I am going to systematically start to extract any favorable references to these mystics out of my writings.

 

 

 

 

My two main problems with Quietist theology are:

1. Hyper-Prophetism – That’s my own word to describe this phenomenon with some Charismatics that think they have to hear a word from God for literally everything they do (like turn a doorknob). There are various mystical sects that were heretics that held to this in church history (Alumbrados, Quietists, Jansenists), and I am growing more and more hateful of it, because a loved one’s mental illness has been worsened by it at times. I seriously do not think that Madame Guyon interpreted Christian spirituality correctly. Teresa of Avila would be a better person to look to for spiritual guidance. Quietism is really unhealthy for the brain. You don’t need to hear a rhema word for every little thing you do! The Bible says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

2. Anti-Pleasure – Quietism has this asceticism stuff too. I fell into this for a while in college, but eventually came out of it. I pray that Jesus will show all Quietists that it is not spiritual. Here is the best advice I ever received on this subject: “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2:20-23).

Augustin Poulain is my probably my favorite Catholic mystical theologian. In The Graces of Interior Prayer, he heavily critiques Quietism. There is a link here, “On Quietism,” and I would ask that you please read it. I agree with Poulain 100% – starting at page 487: click link.

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is the founder of WesleyGospel.com, a husband, father, and sometimes an open air preacher. He graduated from UNC Pembroke in 2008 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and views himself as a Baptistic Pentecostal. As a Christian, he feels connected with all members of the body of Christ, but can identify the most with churches like the Assemblies of God and the Vineyard. In 2015, he released "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," which is meant to be a Bible study for open air preaching. For his other writings, search articles on this site or see the E-Books section.
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4 Responses to Quietism: A Dangerous Heresy – John Boruff

  1. Zuri says:

    This reminds me of a post by Pyromaniacs: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2011/09/non-sola-scriptura-blackaby-view-of.html

    I didn’t know the name for it was Quietism though. Actually I just read his blog yesterday and found y’all blog today by happenstance lol

  2. I will point out that Madame Guyon did not see herself as a Quietist. I am yet to know much about Quietism, but from John Wesley’s Journal, he separated himself from them, because of they had the ideology of depending “wholly on God” thereby disregarding the need for reading the Scriptures, and seeing themselves always as “poor sinners”. Here is Wesley’s Journal entry on it: “The unjustified, say they, are to be still: that is, not to search the Scriptures, not to pray, not to communicate, not to do good, not to endeavor, not to desire for it is impossible to use means without trusting in them.”

    The reason why I am making this humble comment is to regard the mention of Madame Guyon and asceticism. Christ first, others non-existent is my belief. So I am not here to give hearty eulogy to an individual. I have gone through the ” simple prayer” by Madame Guyon and honestly, it has greatly helped me in my Christian race, especially the area of resting all on God. She never admitted to being a Quietist (I am yet to fully research on Quietism) and her work shows Scriptural backings.

    As per asceticism. It is personal. Great men of God choose this path and even early church fathers like Augustine, encourage it in a way in his writings. I crave a Spirit-led ascetic life, so as to be all rooted in my Lord Jesus and have less, or no care of the things of this world.

    I will wrap up with what our Savior Jesus Christ said to the young rich man that wanted to follow him: “The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matt. 19:20-21).

    The rich young man kept all the commandments from his youthful age and wanted to follow Christ. But Christ instructed him to sell what he had and give all to the poor and follow him. I don’t know what is more ascetic than this.

    I wish I remember where I read about John Wesley giving virtually all he had and keeping little for himself. And how he rode on a horse back for thousands of miles evangelizing. He could have taken a comfortable chariot for his trips (like today “ministers” on private jets), but he choose to ride on a horseback.

    May God give us more wisdom to understand and apply his words through the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  3. Lynn says:

    myworkforchrist, I hope to make a helpful comment here. You quote Matt. 19:20-21, “The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me,” followed by your comments, “The rich young man kept all the commandments from his youthful age and wanted to follow Christ. But Christ instructed him to sell what he had and give all to the poor and follow him. I don’t know what is more ascetic than this.”

    I fear you have gravely misinterpreted this Scripture, at root, confusing God’s Word of Law and God’s Word of Gospel. First, the rich young man claims to have kept all of the commandments, but this is impossible. There is only one who is sinless and this , of course, is Christ. The young man is oblivious to his sin, in fact counting on his own righteousness, therefore blind to his need for a Savior. Christ “ups the ante” by adding another layer of law requirements upon this young man — give away all you have … In doing this, he used the Law as a mirror to show this sinful young man that the reflection he sees is that of sinner, not perfect law keeper, so that he might be starkly confronted with his sin of idolatry (evidenced in his downheartedness at the thought of selling all of his goods). Jesus does not tell the man to sell all of his goods as a call to asceticism, on the contrary, He calls the man away from looking to His own good deeds so that he might look to the the Jesus, the Savior he needs.

    • John Boruff says:

      I disagree. The context of the passage is in favor of the ascetic view. This why Jesus later says, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” And why James says similar things about rich people having an unhealthy attachment to their money; and how they should not be high-minded, but generous and give to the poor. I think your view of keeping the law is stretched by an overemphasis of Romans 3:20, “The law makes us conscious of sin,” true. But Romans 8:4 says, “That the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who live after the Spirit.” I fear that too much of Reformed Calvinism downplays obedience to God’s Word. Better to take the Bible at face value than through any antinomian teacher; because God will judge your life! And you will have nothing to plead but your own rebellion to His Word, couched in a rebellious theology!

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