Merging Activism and Quietism

The two great heresies that have plagued the church on the issue of sanctification for centuries are the heresies of activism and quietism. The twin distortions are guilty of eliminating one or the other pole of the paradox. In activism, God’s working is swallowed up by human self-righteousness. In quietism, the human struggle is swallowed up by an automatic divine process.

Activism is the creed of the self-righteous person. He has no need of divine assistance to achieve perfection. Grace is held in contempt, a remedy needed only by weak people. The activist can lift himself up by his own bootstraps. His confidence is in himself and his moral ability. Perhaps the most arrogant statement a person can make is this: “I don’t need Christ.”

The quietist insults the Holy Spirit by insisting that God is totally responsible for his progress or lack of it. If the quietist still sins, the unspoken assumption is that God has been lacking in His work. The creed of the quietist is, “Let go and let God.” No struggle is necessary; no resistance to temptation is required. Sanctification is God’s job, from beginning to end.

God calls us to the pursuit of holiness. The pursuit is to be undertaken with strength and resolution. We are to resist unto blood, to wrestle with powers, to pummel our bodies, rejoicing in the certainty that the Holy Spirit is within us helping, disposing, convicting, and encouraging.

Coram Deo

Are you an activist, rejecting God’s assistance—or a quietist, insisting that He is totally responsible for your spiritual progress or lack of it?

Passages for Further Study

Ephesians 3:20–21
Hebrews 13:20–21
Galatians 6:4

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