The genesis of quietism seems to be very easily explained because it is a paradox any Christian of good faith will butt up against in the course of living out a vocation.

If one accepts that there is no good action that does not begin with grace, continue sustained by grace, and end in grace, one is presented immediately with a problem--How do I know that I have the grace to proceed? If proceeding without grace is presumptuous and fruitless, how can one tell precisely when to begin? Telephone calls, post cards, and billet-doux (of a personal nature) from God are rare. How does one know when one is following God's will in a matter as subtle as moving on in prayer?

To this question, there does not appear to be a ready answer. One cannot assume that one has the grace and the go-ahead to proceed, but the desire to move on could probably be taken as a strong indicator that that is the direction one is called.

So what if one starts out on this road and fails? Or what if other things interfere? How do we sort out our presumption from interference by infernal agents?

Again, there seems to be no ready answer. However, this is one reason a person to discuss the spiritual life with is so important. Such a person should have broad knowledge and experience of the life he or she is trying to guide others to; he or she should be aware of the barriers to progress and the nature of these barriers. Is the barrier such that one should return to discursive meditation or vocal prayer, or is it one that requires persistence in the realm of mental prayer.

Quietism is one danger of an extreme interpretation of the doctrine of grace. It is one that is hard to avoid and very easy to give way to; however, we have as one indicator our own knowledge of the possibility. It would be relatively easy to identify extremes of behavior or attitude that suggest quietism--it's just the earlier stages that might present the pray-er with some difficulty.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 4, 2006 12:52 PM.

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