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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Sanctification Pitfalls.... Episode I: Quietism and Activism
Quietism: (defined)  The belief that sanctification is so entirely monergistic (performed by God alone upon the believer) that the believer can be sanctified in a vacuum.

That's kind of a wooden and quick definition, but it suits this discussion well enough.

Statement: All "true believers" are convicted both of sin and of righteousness by the Holy Spirit

We want to be careful even starting off that way - because, frankly, the Holy Spirit may well convict a non-believer of sin in their life, conviction of sin does not prove that one is a believer - though a lack of that conviction would certainly suggest that one is not a believer. For all true believers receive the Spirit of Christ the very instant they are justified, and this indwelling presence cannot indwell a person without consequence.

That is to say, we who are justified find that regardless of how much pleasure sin brings us, we hate it, and we hate ourselves for giving into it. We truly wish we were already in possession of our glorified bodies - that is, we wish that there was nothing in us (that is in our flesh) that desired sin - we wish that all we would ever desire to do would be please God. In fact, this is typically how we would describe the greatest difference between our pre-saved, and post-saved experience: Where once we couldn't care less about God, now we wish our lives were pleasing to him, and we hate it that our lives are not pleasing to him.

That what well meaning believers are responding to when they try to "sanctify" themselves. They are trying to experience in the here and now, that assured feeling that everything they do will warrant a "well done my good and faithful servant" from God, everything that fails to warrant such a decree - they feel condemns them as hypocrites, pretenders, fakes, and frauds. Their failure to be perfect causes them to secretly doubt that their salvation was successful. The weight of their guilt can and often does, make havoc of their faith.

Quietism, as I understand it, (like most of the errors I am going to discuss) misinterprets the role of faith in our sanctification. In particular the Quietist reasons that because the flesh cannot produce anything righteous (that which is flesh is flesh, and that which is spirit: spirit), then the path to sanctification must be entirely spiritual - and our "faith" therefore must be that God is going to zap us either all at once, or in little bits, regardless of anything we do.

It is from theology like this that some adhere to the, "Let Go, Let God!" approach to sanctification.

It is, of course, an erroneous teaching.

Those who avoid this pitfall sometimes fall off the other side of the horse, and succumb to:

Activism: (defined)  The belief that sanctification is apprehended by the doing of "sanctified" things.

Again - a wooden definition, but it suits my purpose here. Activism is like the opposite of Quietism. Where the Quietist believes that God does everything, the Activist believes that man does everything in his own strength, but (because he or she is humble) then says that everything was actually done in God's strength. That is, they do all the work, regard the work itself as the process of sanctification, and credit God for the "ability" to do the work.

To be sure, most world religions follow a form of Activism. Moral standards are set, and individuals, in the strength of their own conviction and desire for conformity and or assurance, perform in a manner that is (externally at least) consistent with their profession. One need not be a confused Christian to fall into this sort of self-sanctification.

The earmark of Activism is that no matter how much you "do", your inner man is not strengthened - it is entirely an external exercise because as spiritual as it is dressed up as, it isn't founded on trusting God, it is usually founded upon the hope that by maintaining a meritorious faith one can be assured of salvation.

This sort of pursuit is no more joyful than being successful in any self effort. If one is inclined to feel joy (pride) at having done a "good" or "difficult" job, one may well continue in this particular manner indefinitely.

Neither Quietism nor Activism understand the nature of sanctification, which I hope to elaborate in another post.


posted by Daniel @ 11:00 AM  
  • At 12:31 PM, June 04, 2008, Blogger Fred Butler said…

    Any specific sources for your research here?

    Good stuff, by the way.

  • At 12:39 PM, June 04, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Fred - nah, nothing specific. I think I got the labels (quietism/activism) from a lecture given by R.C. Sproul on antinomianism or predestination or something. I think the labels are less important than the ideas they pitch.

    Most of us start off as activists, then when we begin to understand that God plays a role in our sanctification, we start to dip into quietism - though usually we attempt to make God sanctify us by "doing the right thing" - even if "the right thing" in Quietism is to do nothing at all.

    I didn't really spend a lot of time researching, as I tend to post off the cuff.

  • At 1:43 PM, June 04, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…


    "Go and get God"


    "Let go and let God"

    Riotism ©

    "Don't go, forget God"


    "Don't let go of God"

  • At 4:26 PM, June 04, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…


    "God's not gonna take it"

  • At 4:41 PM, June 04, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    However, if it were quiet-riot-ism, it would be another song, not its "twitsted sister"...

  • At 4:49 PM, June 04, 2008, Blogger jazzycat said…

    O.K. Sounds good to me.

  • At 5:41 PM, June 04, 2008, Blogger Jim said…

    Oh boy, you guys go and spoil a perfectly good post with corny humour. :)

    Daniel, those were great definitions and descibed very well two views of sanctification I have also seen.

    I wait expectantly for your view of the true nature of sanctification.

  • At 4:14 PM, June 05, 2008, Blogger Marcian said…

    Ah, Daniel, you hit the nail on the head yet again!!

  • At 11:00 AM, June 06, 2008, Blogger Jim said…

    Would it be too great of a stretch to say that I find most Calvinist's falling into the Quietism camp, while most Arminian's seem to gravitate towards Activism?

  • At 1:55 PM, June 06, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim - I think that if a person is saved through a Calvinistic soteriology, they are more likely to err on the side of Quietism as they attempt to make heads or tails of how to go about being a believer, likewise, if one is brought to faith through an Arminian presentation of the gospel, the new convert is more likely to err on the side of Activism.

    To be sure, if the believer matures in his or her faith, regardless of which camp they start in, I should expect that they will be drawn away from whatever pole they happen to be inclined towards.

    Which is to say that I don't think it is much of a stretch at all, as long as we are talking about immature believers (and when I say immature I know that there are believers in both camps who never seem to grow out of their slant). :-)

  • At 10:48 AM, June 07, 2008, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, if that is the case it would seem to me that both presentations of the gospel fail to be balanced enough. IOW, they are producing converts that are not thinking and acting completely Biblical.

    So then most controversy amongst believers is not over true Biblical doctrine but rather is pitting one theology against another, neither which are a true scriptural representation.

    Thus, the teaching of man is once again elevated to that of equal or above God's word. Now that is probably bound to happen whenever the gospel is preached but where you have such a large sampling of the exact same system, abnormalites tend to become more exaggerated.

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