Discussing Quietism

I was recently listening to Cameron McAllister’s podcast discussing Why Christians are Cultural Misfits, and he mentioned an idea called quietism in it. Although he didn’t go into detail about the idea in particular it did make me curious enough to begin researching it. I would like to introduce the idea in one of our small group lessons, and discuss what the Bible actually says about times we are meant to remain quiet and accept what is coming, and when we are meant to stand up and speak out.

To me the obvious exception to staying quiet is when it comes to proclaiming the gospel. However, I have ran across many Christians who have decided to fold their hands and let society just become what it may. Their thoughts in this is that, “the Bible says it’s going to get worse before it ever gets better so why should I try to change it?”

This mindset doesn’t sit well with me, and would just like to see what other insight is out there concerning this.




Well if you look at Jesus’ ministry, he was perhaps the most radical, outspoken orator and reformer in history. He’s a perfect biblical example of how to approach change.

As to being cultural misfits, that’s probably true. The gospel, as you allude to, is our opportunity to be ‘loud’ (for lack of word), and this is designed to offend, but it also brings peace to those who are not so corrupted by the lies of society: the ones with open hearts. God does call us out of the world.

If we were trying to intermingle the gospel with 21st century culture, we might end up saying things like Pope Francis did yesterday. And this is no doubt dangerous to the truth within us, and the truth in general.

To be extra controversial we could look at figures like Donald Trump or Jordan Peterson. Now they verbally oppose man made revolution structures or ideas with force. I am not to judge if they are heaven-bound or not, but both clearly sympathise with Judeo/Christian values and even acknowledge God in some of their speech (see Peterson’s most recent upload on YT). The same goes for the classical conservatives. For example, Ben Sharpio, Amy Barret, Mike Pence, our Prime Minister ScoMo etc. Notice one clear trend with the above-mentioned people: they are hated by most culturally minded people. especially those who reject the gospel.

I think it comes down to defending what is right, both biblically and morally. In the end, the bible instructs us to do all things for God’s glory, and work not for man but God, and that often looks like defying societies trends: go ahead speak out the truth, albeit prayerfully and with God honour. The Holy Spirit will assist as to if we are crossing the line.

Again, I think using Jesus as your threshold would make the group lessons engaging. You could perhaps focus on the Beatitudes and the scenario with Pilate for quietism, or otherwise look at the Woes of Pharisees, and Jesus’ other confrontations. And then analyse and compare. This should stimulate healthy discussion.


Martin, do you recall which episode of Vital Signs mentioned quietism? Was it Part 1, 2 or 3 of “Why Christians Are Cultural Misfits”? I’d like to listen to the whole series, but if I run out of time, I’ll make sure I at least listen to the episode that addresses quietism.

I believe it’s episode 3 where it is mentioned. Again, it is mentioned only in passing. Episode 1 deals with “Seeing the Culture”, Episode 2 deals with “Knowing the Culture”, and Episode 3 deals with the “What do we as Christians do in the world.”

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To me the obvious exception to staying quiet is when it comes to proclaiming the gospel…
Their thoughts in this is that, “the Bible says it’s going to get worse before it ever gets better so why should I try to change it?”

This mindset doesn’t sit well with me…

This is a timely discussion, @mpitts92 , and I agree with you! This is kind of a hot button for me, so please bear with me.

As I have watched the world in recent months, I do believe our enemy, the devil, is reckoning his remaining time to destroy and devour what he can of the God’s beloved creation that is mankind.

While I agree the Bible tells us it will get worse before the end, I disagree that we should not consider our part in making an impact. We can, as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, hold out the gospel to those who are lost, and participate in His goal to increase the number in the kingdom. I think the work we have to do is even more urgent now. Christians, including myself, have been snoozing too long.

Does this mean facing trolls, impostors, massive obstacles, hate, false accusations, rejection and maybe even violence? Yes. I have considered these things as I’ve evaluated what I am doing to share the gospel. The obstacles can be quite tremendous actually. But we trust God with our work more than we trust what we can see.

It is not biblical to want anyone to perish in what the Lord describes as hell, and Christians have a great privilege to have a direct line to truth, value, worth, salvation, purpose, shelter and assurance in the One True God.

If I accept the basic definition of quietism as:

calm acceptance of things as they are without attempts to resist or change them.

and I operate in a way that furthers that philosophy, I do believe I will face the Lord with regret.

Does that definition match what you are finding in your research? How would you define it?

Christians have, throughout time, been resisters (there’s that word “Protestant” :slightly_smiling_face:) of things that are evil, that oppress, that destroy life, that devalue, deceive, etc.

Jesus was a trouble maker. He tossed tables in the temple, cracked a whip, called the Pharisee “white washed tombs”, and exposed manipulative attempts to discredit His Person. But He still gave all at the cross for those people. That is Christianity.

When my kids were in early high school we read D. James Kennedy’s book What if Jesus had Never Been Born?

It’s an easy to read, nifty overview of the impact of counter culture Christianity in history.

If I truly love my fellow man, I will take guidance from the Holy Spirit to bring truth and love to the places that are difficult.

Love does not stand by while another self destructs.

A big example I’ve seen lately are the street preachers. There is some very effective work going on there, but not without physical, spiritual and emotional stamina. And sometimes preachers endure violence. It’s easy to ignore Jesus if He’s never shared in the public square, but if we don’t take Jesus to them and they don’t want to cross the doorway of the church, who will tell them?

As long as we are here, we have work to do.

At the end of things what really matters is the eternal soul of every person.

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Sounds like you’ve found a great topic to discuss in your small group, especially as you dig into what the bible all has to say about our states of mind… and possibly compare and contrast those mindsets against the main stream Spirituality practices of “the age” and maybe even with mindsets used by sports coaching and business strategists. (Could be a fascinating bible study…)

As I see it, the word “quietism” however might potentially introduce somewhat of a muddy subject to deal with, because it seems to have meant different things to different people groups through different periods of time. And so, today It might be possible that two different people referring to the same word (“quietism”) could easily find themselves thinking 2 completely different ideas without even realizing it. (could lead to some disagreements today just like it did back when the word was initially coined)

If the idea of quietism leads Christians to assume general passivity in expressing their faith, then clearly it’s a problem. If the definition of “quietism” is taken to mean that we should be discouraged from getting into the fray and confronting falsehood with the power of God that is within us then quietism is a philosophy to avoid.

But on the other hand… if quietism is referring to a dedicated mindfulness which reflects upon the word of God and the considerations of God’s thoughts beyond our own, then “quietism” is actually the thing that serves to equip and assist our readiness for action, for answers, and our ability to make decisions.

If the principle of quietism” is that which we would use to reinforce our minds with truth and to ponder and to give place to meaningful things within our uncluttered mind-space… If it’s what we do when we quiet the noise of everything else while we come to places of rest and resolve with these things, then quietism (of that sort) is both good and essential.

On the other hand… If quietism is taken to mean a vain state of mental openness where we would “empty our mind” to circumvent our rational mind and be led by trance into a spiritual underground of fantasy and imagination, then that practice of presumptuous quietism would be misleading; and would guide us into rabbit holes where we don’t belong.

… An interesting topic for sure; Worth looking at it from a few different angles to see that different folks might seem to presume “quietism” to mean different things.

As to when we should speak up and when we should remain silent… I would say that’s a tough “tiger” to tame: As I see it that is a matter of wisdom, experience, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. (James 3:8)


On your question about the definition of quietism, I’ve actually found two definitions. It reminds me somewhat of Buddhism where there’s two different branches of thought.

The first is the “calm acceptance of things as they are without attempts to resist or change them.”

The second is from way back with the Catholic church where people actually tried to use Quietism as a means of attaining salvation through quieting the soul and coming closer in communion with God. It was obviously labeled as a heresy, but thought you would find that interesting.

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It really was. It was awesome too to show them how to balance what is said in Scripture, and not count it as contradictory. It seems a lot of people view it in the latter sense instead of taking the time to realize that “there is a season for everything.”

I agree and shared with them the different definitions I found. I took the time to show how certain aspects of it were biblically sound with the spending quiet time with God and looking to grow that relationship through reflection and introspection, but to temper that with the knowledge that this in no way would bring about salvation or “oneness with God”.

Ultimately I led them to James 1:5, that this is a matter of wisdom and discernment to know what to say and when to say it, and to never compromise the gospel for the sake of a comfortable and quiet life.