CHAPTER 18
QUAKER QUIETISM

MYSTICISM is the religion of direct personal relations between man and God inwardly revealed and known. In the history of Christianity there have been many types of mystical experience and worship, varying according to the ways in which the direct relationship with God was sought and in which its character and consequences were expressed. Quietism is a form of mysticism which starts with the assumption of the essential moral ruin and religious incapacity of human nature. This means more than the sinful disposition and impulses of human nature, which Paul calls "the flesh." It is something other than the selfishness and willfulness of personal human desires set over against the will of God. It implies that all of the "human creature," as distinct from the divine manifestations in the form of super- natural "motions," "breathings" or inspiration, is wholly and unworthily "other" than the divine. Quietism believes, therefore, that God can work within and through the human spirit only when the usual activities of the "creature" are "quiet"; that only in the "silence of all flesh" can God make himself heard; that only when all "creaturely activities" of reason, forethought, planning and organization are suspended can God work in and direct the soul through some invasion, a "breaking in" or "prevailing" of the Divine. To quote Rufus Jones:

It must be understood at the outset that Quietism does not spell lethargy and inaction; it does not mean folded hands

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