Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I'm interested in starting a group here at QuakerQuaker on quietism. The focus would be on the quietist insights of the Quaker tradition and recovering that focus. I'm personally interested in a more contemplative, less political, approach to the Quaker tradition and have found the Quietist heritage to be a rich resource for such an approach.
Are any others interested in such a Group? Also, it is not clear to me how to start a Group at QuakerQuaker. So a little 'how to' would be appreciated.
Thanks, Michael, for your response. I wonder if you could be more specific regarding what you mean by 'implementation'? I'm not really very clear about how the view worked out in practice. Like you, I'm very attracted to quietist theology.
During the Quietist period, Quakers turned in on themselves and imploded. Not only did they stop expanding, but they also started kicking everyone out who was not respectable enough... You could be disowned for not attending meeting, visiting another church, getting married outside of meeting, attending a marriage outside of meeting, associating with undesirable characters, being undesirable characters. Seems almost everyone we run across has ancestors who used to be quakers but were kicked out.
I like the idea of waiting on God, and relying of God instead of on human strength... but, I would not want to go back to the 18th or 19th century.
We have heard that many early Friends communities went to great extents to separate themselves from the world. This included a lot of disownments. We are right to recoil from this practice. It suggests an authority to separate goats from sheep. This sort of authority does not belong to anyone on earth.
But it is not clear to me that this tendency grew from Quietist theology. Howard Brinton defines Quietism this way: "Quietism is the doctrine that every self-centered trait or activity must be suppressed or quieted in order that the divine may find unopposed entrance to the soul" (Page 66 Friends for 300 years). If he is right, then I would not want to place disownments at the door of Quietist theology.
However, I must admit that when I did a little research before posting this reply, I found that no one defined Quaker Quietism as concisely as Howard Brinton did. Many authors assumed that I knew what Quietism was and assigned a negative connotation to it. My suspicion is that Quietism is blamed for more than it is responsible for.
@Chip -- I make the same assumption. I am attracted to Quietism -- I love the idea of waiting on God, praying, and obeying... giving God all the glory. I don't want to work on my own. I do not want to get ahead of God -- No matter how active I become, I want my activity steeped in Quietism. if I am called to preach -- I want to preach what God gives me -- and not for myself... I don't want to get in God's way.
Unfortunately -- whenever we say Quietism, people start remembering when the overseers came to people and found them "not in a state of mind to give satisfaction." and when they came again to "inform them of the testification against them and the right to appeal." I agree -- this enforced conformity... this resistance to any change -- even if it was God breathed life was not true quietism but pride (which is a self centered trait)... but, when we talk about quietist quakers we think of the actions of the meetings -- not of the extraordinary saints (such as John Woolman -- who I admire).
Thanks for posting so succinctly a point that has been growing in importance for me. I have noticed that when Quakers today refer to Quietism they often seem to associate Quietism with a stance of exclusivism and the practices which Michael Jay referred to in his post. Personally, I do not see any connection between Quietist works and that kind of behavior. When I read 'A Guide to True Peace' there is nothing in it that would lead to these kinds of manifestations. Unless someone can show me that the Quakers who were busy excluding people who had 'gone astray' were directly inspired by Quietist philosophy or views, I would tend to regard this association as a misguided one.
I like Brinton's definition and I think it is a really good start. I wasn't aware of it so thanks for posting it.